A former hat designer who turned her hands to radio electronics during the war has celebrated her 100th birthday at a Sanctuary Care home in Chigwell.
Eva Slapper became a centenarian yesterday (Thursday 25 June) and marked her milestone birthday surrounded by loved ones, the team and fellow residents at Pinewood Residential Care Home, where she has lived for nearly 18 months.
Secret to reaching 100
The birthday girl, Eva, has always put her secret to reaching a great age down to “breaking most of today’s rules”. Son Jack Slapper explained: “Mum is living proof you can live long and prosper without gruelling exercise and cutting down on food.
“Mum has always enjoyed eating well and has never over-exerted herself – in fact, she’s always walked the pace of a tortoise but here she is going strong at 100!”
Pinpointing what her secret could be Jack continued: “Her biggest secret must be the fact she has never seen the point in worrying. She has always lived life by going with the flow!”
London born and bred
Born on a Friday in East End of London, Eva was the first child to Philip and Annie Fisher and eldest sister to Lily, Manny and Beatrice.
Growing up in London, Eva left her local school at the age of 14 to form an early career in hat making – starting off as a milliner apprentice and blossoming into a top hat designer in the country’s capital.
Ten years after leaving school, in 1939 – the start of the Second World War, Eva had no choice but to put down her sewing tools to work in an electronics factory, where she made two-way radios to support the military, and at night she took turns on ‘fire watch’.
It was after her wartime duties that Eva found time to marry her long-term boyfriend and former next door neighbour, Joseph Slapper.
While Eva was busy making radios during the war, Joseph was in the RAF and stationed in Canada and only returned back to England after D-Day where he was stationed in Ely, Cambridgeshire – devotedly Eva visited the love of her life most weekends.
Children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren
After many happy years together, Eva and Joseph went onto have two children. Their eldest is daughter Hetty – who now lives in Canada and their youngest Jack.
Eva’s family of four has blossomed to four generations which includes five grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren, with the twelfth on its way.
Jack concluded: “It’s fantastic to celebrate mum’s 100th birthday – as a family we’ve done a lot together, so it’s wonderful to be able to do this together too and I hope we enjoy many more!
“I am so proud of mum – it’s hard to put it into words but in a nutshell she’s always been family focused throughout all her years and it will be something I will always be grateful for. She’s one in a million and I’m so pleased that my grandchildren got to meet my fantastic mother.”
Tea party celebrations at Pinewood
Denise Brown, the home’s manager, added: “Eva is such a lovely and warm character and we are so happy to be celebrating her special day with her and her family.”
For Eva’s special day, an afternoon of celebrations took place with traditional tea party festivities complete with a tasty birthday cake for everyone to enjoy.