When asked the secret to getting to 100, Lilian said: “Anything I did, I put my heart and soul into it.” She was due to have a big party with more than 80 guests at Highdown Vineyard but due to Covid, this has obviously had to be cancelled. Instead, a number of surprises were arranged at the home, which is owned by Littlehampton & Rustington Housing Society, and it was turned into a day of celebration for all residents and staff.
Born in Arundel on February 15, 1921, Lilian May Lawrence was part of a Mullet family, meaning they had all been born within the parish. She married Victor Clarence Charman in 1939 and they had two daughters, Carol and Barbara. She became involved with Girlguiding when Barbara was 11 and Lilian said her Trefoil Guild group that started with six now has more than 40 members. Victor sadly passed away in 1969 and Lilian has remained on her own ever since. She is much loved by all her family, which includes four grandsons, two granddaughters, five great grandsons and two great granddaughters, and they all enjoyed a Zoom call the day before her birthday.
Sammy Hydes, customer relations manager, said: “Being 100 does not stop Lilian, she loves the activities and on her birthday, was even up dancing with her favourite teddy bear Rusty, Rustington Hall’s mascot. As she was unable to see all her family, Rustington Hall made sure she would get the day she deserved, with many surprises for her along the way. Lilian was showered with cards, gifts, flowers and, of course, a card from the Queen.”
Lilian thanked Rustington Hall for the dinner date with one of her favourite carers, the visit from Rusty and all the singing and dancing. She said: “Thank you so much to everyone for making today special, we are all a little happy family.”
Sally Morris, Rustington Hall chief executive and manager, said things had not been easy, including an outbreak of Covid-19 at the home, but Monday was a day of celebration. She said: “Not only was it Lilian’s 100th birthday but it was also celebration day at Rustington Hall, where all the staff and residents received a personalised ‘thank you’ gift bag in recognition of all the help and support they had given each other during the whole of the pandemic and in particular the recent outbreak in the home. I have to say that the beginning of January was very challenging and stressful and I really feel for any care home currently dealing with an outbreak. However, with everyone working together as a team and giving each other such incredible support, we pulled through and are now stronger than ever.”