She has lived through two world wars, four monarchs and almost 20 different prime ministers.
Now Mary Needham, who lives at Threeways Nursing Home in Beacon Road, Seaford, has celebrated her 100th birthday.
The Lord Lieutenant Peter Field presented the Queen’s telegram to her last Monday afternoon (February 23).
There was a cake and around 15 family members and friends turned out to celebrate - some even travelled from overseas to be with her.
Mary was born in 1915 in Derbyshire. She emigrated to New Zealand in 1972 but returned to England in 1998 after her husband died.
But Mary said at the age of 90 she found love again.
She said: “On reaching the age of 90, I surprised myself by making an acquaintance with a gentleman friend, Roy. He was a squadron leader in the Battle of Britain and as that was the year of the centenary celebrations we went to Clarence House to have tea in the garden with Prince Charles. He was often asked to sign photographs of the Battle of Britain and we spent many happy weekends away visiting fundraising events. We were together for five years before he passed away. We always referred to him as Toy Boy Roy.
“He bought me a lovely diamond ring which we called a commitment ring.”
Mary left school at 16 and went to Derby Commercial School to train as a shorthand typist and after six months she was called into the manager’s office and asked if she would like to take a job at Derbyshire County Council.
She said: “As I had been one of the top pupils I was set on for six months. This is when the registering of cars started in 1931. When the six months was up, the boss asked me if I would like to start as a shorthand typist at the Trent Bus company and I stayed there for 13 years.”
Mary has travelled extensively over the years visiting Vancouver, Los Angeles, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, Rhodes, Tenerife, Menorca, San Tropez, Cannes, Monaco, Australia, Jersey and Guensey. She said her favourite place is Hawaii.
Mary had three sisters and five brothers. She said: “We had a very happy family life. We all had children and I had 11 nieces and nine nephews. Unfortunately none of my brothers or sisters are still living.”