A remarkable lady who has celebrated her 106th birthday at her Sanctuary Care home is believed to be the most mature person in Coventry.
Edith Smith lived independently until she was 104, when she moved into Lammas House Residential Care Home, which provides residential care in Lammas Road, where she celebrated her birthday on Easter Sunday.
Born in Bradford in 1909, during the reign of King Edward VII to parents Louisa and Harry Laycock, Edith moved to Southbank Road in Coundon, Coventry with her first husband Harold and has lived in the city for most of her life.
Talking about how she has reached such a fantastic age Edith said: “My secret is to love life and be happy. Working hard and looking after my family – and a few gin and tonics along the way!”
Talking about how she felt to potentially be the oldest person in Coventry she added: “I feel proud to reach this age.”
After losing her father at an early age, Edith and her mother spent the First World War with Belgian refugees, who paid rent to shelter in their home and taught Edith French.
Edith’s daughter-in-law Pat Smith recalls: “She vividly remembers soldiers marching past the window.”
During the Second World War Harold was responsible for looking out for fires started in the city when bombs were dropped by enemy aircraft, leaving Edith at home looking after their son Roger, who just a baby at the time of the outbreak.
Edith didn’t have an air raid shelter in her garden so rather than use the communal shelter in the street, which was filthy and infested with rats; she would shield Roger during the bomb blasts by hiding under the dining room table.
Following the severe bombing of Coventry in November 1940, when the city was annihilated by German Luftwaffe, Edith and thousands of others escaped from the city.
Pat’s husband Bill said: “She lived about a mile outside of Coventry up on a hill, so was able to look down and see the city burning following two days of bombing.
“Many people camped in the woods to get away from the houses to safety.”
Edith and Roger moved to a farm in Leicestershire to get away from the danger of the raids, where they lived for several years.
After the war Edith lost her husband, who died of lung cancer at the age of 55. With a pension of just 50 pence per week she had to work as a bookkeeper for a company in Coventry to make ends meet. She sadly lost her son when he had a brain hemorrhage at the age of 35.
Edith found love again when she met her second husband Harry, at a dance hall. Sadly Harry passed away in 1986.
Throughout her life the birthday girl’s passion has been dancing and this was a hobby which she enjoyed until she was well into her 90s. She used to dance with lifelong friend Irene, who was there to celebrate her milestone birthday, with a family party at the home on Good Friday. Edith was also joined by her grandsons James and John and great grandchild Freya.
Rukmi Silva, manager at Lammas House said: “Edith is a real lady – she has so much grace and elegance and is always immaculately presented, taking great pride in her appearance. She is inspirational and we are enormously proud to have Edith here with us here at Lammas House.