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A remarkable life: Edie Wilkinson from Hethersett celebrates her 109th birthday

Edie Wilkinson celebrates her 109th birthday at her home at Hethersett. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Edie Wilkinson celebrates her 109th birthday at her home at Hethersett. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2017

When Edie Wilkinson was young she remembers seeing King George V on horseback as she ambled through London’s Hyde Park on her way to work at Harrods.

Edie Wilkinson at 90-years-old when she married Leslie Wilkinson. Picture: Courtesy of Edith Wilkinson's familyEdie Wilkinson at 90-years-old when she married Leslie Wilkinson. Picture: Courtesy of Edith Wilkinson's family

Mrs Wilkinson, who lives in Hethersett, said: “He was lovely.

“He would wave to the people when they were walking to work, and if any men were there they would raise their caps to him.”

The fascinating encounter is just one of many from a rich and remarkable life - Mrs Wilkinson has just marked her 109th birthday.

She said the secret to longevity was hard work - Mrs Wilkinson spent her working days making chair covers for Debenhams - and a daily glass of Guinness with her dinner.

Edie Wilkinson when she was Edie Lawrence, with her daughter Ann, around 1941. Picture: Courtesy of Edith Wilkinson's familyEdie Wilkinson when she was Edie Lawrence, with her daughter Ann, around 1941. Picture: Courtesy of Edith Wilkinson's family

Mrs Wilkinson celebrated the April 13 milestone with family - including one brother who she had not seen for 71 years.

Her two children were there and she also received several bouquets - including one from the team of Wiltshire Farm Foods, which has delivered food to her for six years.

Mrs Wilkinson can also remember growing up in London during the First World War, when her mother would tell her and her eight siblings to hide under the table during bombing raids by German Zeppelins.

She said: “There were plenty of bombs about but I never got hurt.”

Edie Wilkinson when she was Edie Lawrence, on her honeymoon in 1929. Picture: Courtesy of Edith Wilkinson's familyEdie Wilkinson when she was Edie Lawrence, on her honeymoon in 1929. Picture: Courtesy of Edith Wilkinson's family

She first married when she was 21 to a bricklayer called Wally Lawrence - a partnership which lasted 50 years.

Her second husband was Leslie Wilkinson, who she married when she was 90.

She said of their first meeting: “He wanted to sit at my table. I said: ‘this is my table, but you can sit down’, and I married him!”

Mrs Wilkinson moved up to Norfolk after she retired at 73, and has lived in both Wymondham and Hethersett.

Edith Wilkinson on her 109th birthday. Picture: Courtesy of Tami LloydEdith Wilkinson on her 109th birthday. Picture: Courtesy of Tami Lloyd

She said she used to love reading - but now cannot see as well as she used to - and also used to enjoy going dancing with her first husband, which is how they met.

The mantelpiece of her home is crowded with birthday cards, including some from the Queen - Mrs Wilkinson has received a message from the monarch each year since turning 100.

She has seven grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.

Some members of her family emigrated to Australia, and she had a famous aunt - Edna Best - an actress from cinema’s golden age of the 1930s and 1940s, who was her mother’s sister.

Tami Lloyd from Wiltshire Farm Foods delivers flowers to Edith Wilkinson on her 109th birthday. Picture: Courtesy of Tami LloydTami Lloyd from Wiltshire Farm Foods delivers flowers to Edith Wilkinson on her 109th birthday. Picture: Courtesy of Tami Lloyd

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