Norma Blacker, a former wartime Wren, has celebrated turning 100 surrounded by her family and friends at Water Mill House care home.
Norma’s daughter Dianne flew in from America and her son Cedric travelled from Spain, and cousins and friends came from all over the UK to join her on her milestone birthday.
Norma said: “I had the most wonderful day, everyone worked so hard to make it special for me. You should see my bedroom, it’s covered with flowers, cards and balloons – fabulous!”
When asked about the secret to a long and happy life, Norma said: “I eat well and sleep well and join in with all the activities at the home. I’ve always enjoyed the company of others and I think it’s important not to isolate yourself as you get older. My husband and I used to host lots of parties in our home when we were younger and I don’t intend to stop socialising now! You need to get out and enjoy life!”
Norma, who has lived at the award-winning 65-bed Water Mill House care home for almost four years, was thrilled to receive a birthday card from King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla. She also received personally delivered hand-made cards and a cake from primary school children from Abbot’s Hill School. The home has a strong community partnership with the school and the children were keen to help Norma celebrate her special day.
To mark the occasion, team members at the home treated Norma to three days of celebrations to cater for all her family and friends, some of whom travelled thousands of miles to be with her.
Norma was born in Rushden, Northamptonshire and had two brothers. During the Second World War, Norma joined the Navy and worked as a Wren, handling sailors’ pay. Initially she was stationed near Liverpool and then in Windsor.
Norma remembers: “It was an interesting job and I was proud to contribute to the war effort. Sometimes the horse races would be on at Windsor and people would travel to them in their taxis and cars, in all their finery and big hats. And we would boo them in their fancy carriages, as they were off to the races while we were busy working!”
Dianne Adams, Norma’s daughter, said: “Mum’s 100th was certainly a day to remember! She is the first member of our family to reach such a milestone. Everyone at Water Mill House was simply wonderful. I live in Michigan and my brother in Spain, so arranging three days of birthday celebrations could have been tricky.
“We had two beautiful lunches for old friends in the private dining room, and an afternoon tea party for family on her actual birthday. When you reach 100 you definitely need more than one day of celebration! The quality of the food and the service were extremely high.
“The home went out of their way to make these days special for Mum and the rest of us. Mum shows us how 100 looks good – and maybe gives other younger residents a kick in their step!”
Victoria Forsythe, Water Mill House’s manager, said: “Norma is an inspiration to us all, her zest for life is amazing. Her wide circle of family and friends visit regularly and we love getting to know them – they’re all part of the home’s family.
“Norma’s very active and visits our Bistro every day, which is the social hub of the home, and plays Scrabble with the other residents. She loves playing bingo, indoor French boules and watching the entertainers we have in each week. Norma also takes a real pride in her appearance and loves to go to our salon each week to have her hair done. She’s an absolute gem and it was a privilege to be part of her 100th birthday celebrations.”