Staying active and hardly ever sitting down are a great grandmother’s secrets to reaching the age of 104.
Doris Emily Elsden, one of 10, has celebrated her 104th birthday last weekend (Sunday 20 December) with a big family party, which was joined by Deputy Mayor of Redbridge Cllr Thavathuray Jeyaranjan, at Sanctuary Care’s Chadwell House Residential Care Home in Chadwell Heath Lane.
Secrets to reaching 104!
When asked her secret to reaching such an incredible age the birthday girl, who has four grandchildren and two great grandchildren said: “I’ve always been active and have always kept myself busy!”
Doris’ daughter Sandra Farinha, who lives in Ilford, added: “You would hardly ever see mum just sitting down, even after she retired at 60 she was always in her garden – it was that immaculate you would never find a weed in it.”
Where it all began…
Born in Lambeth to parents George and Emily Jessup, Doris, who was their fifth child and their eldest daughter, grew up with her nine siblings – George, Ernest, Fredrick, Leonard, Rose, Harry, Ivy, Albert and Reginald.
While her mother Emily stayed at home with her impressive brood, Doris’ father George, who originally worked as a barman, was a bus conductor and in the First World War was a driver while serving in France.
Doris attended Surrey Square Primary School in Walworth and after her studies she embarked on a full-time career as a seamstress where she worked in the rag trade in East London, following her own grandmother’s influence.
Doris recalls: “When I was in Lambeth I remember staying at my grandmother’s home which was around the corner from where I lived and while I stayed there she would teach me needlework when I was a child.”
Making her Grandmother proud, Doris became extremely skilled with her needlework and was promoted to the ‘sample hand’ role, where she would make the first garment of a long garment run and the other workers would follow suit.
Finding love and having children
In the early 1930s Doris met husband-to-be Alfred, who was from Woodford and working as a printer, at a dance, which was held on top of a pub in Ilford. The pair instantly hit it off and married in 1938, when they brought their first home in Woodford Avenue, Ilford.
The pair went onto on to have two children, Colin, who now lives in St Albans and Sandra.
During the Second World War, Doris continued her work in the rag trade and Alfred was called to serve in the army in 1942 and did not return home until 1946. On his return, Alfred became a keen gardener and would spend all his spare time there. Alfred sadly passed away when he was 57, leaving Doris widowed in 1967.
Proud of mum
Speaking about how proud they are of their mother, both Colin and Sandra added: “We feel very proud of mum. She has always done her best for us.”
The Sanctuary Care home’s deputy manager Nasreen Akhtar: “Doris has lived at Chadwell House for over two years and she is a huge character in our home. She is such a remarkable lady and we are honoured to be celebrating this special birthday with her and her family.”