Mary Snelling has celebrated her 107th birthday and swears the secret to long life is simple – just start the day by eating an apple.
The extraordinary woman was born on December 17, 1905 – nine years before the Great War broke out in August 1914.
And pictures taken on her big day this week show she is looking younger than ever.
Fighting fit: Mary Snelling has celebrated her 107th birthday with friends and with a card from the Queen – and says the secret to long life is an apple a day
And long-life clearly runs in the family as Keeny lived to the ripe old age of 102.
Mrs Snelling said the key to a long, healthy life was to have a good diet, lots of exercise and avoid smoking.
‘I don’t eat fat from meat, I always make sure I cut it off and I like to start my day with an apple.
‘I don’t drink much – just occasionally with friends and I have never smoked,’ she said.
‘I always said I work too hard for my money to see it go up in smoke.
‘We used to walk a lot with our mother so that probably helped.’
In the family: Mary, left, is seen here when she passed 100 with her older sister Keeny, who was 101 at the time
Delighted Mary celebrated her 107th birthday on Monday with a card from the Queen, a giant cake and a visit from her dearest friends.
It came as official figures showed yesterday that the number of people surviving till the age of 105 or more has almost doubled in less than a decade.
Mary was one of 640 Britons who have reached that grand old age or greater, compared with 350 in 2002, the Office for National Statistics, reveals.
The number of ‘super centenarians’ – which experts classify as aged 110 or over – were unavailable but are also said to be rising fast.
Speaking about her childhood Mary recalled: ‘I was piggy in the middle’.
‘We were very close. Neither of my sisters married or had any children.’
Historic: The front page of the Eastern Evening News on Monday 18th December 1905 – the day after Mary Snelling was born in Norfolk
They all went to a private school but had to move when the First World War erupted.
The 107-year-old worked as a secretary before becoming a clerk at Norwich magistrates’ court and working as a Sunday School teacher at St Alban’s church.
The couple got married in All Saints Church, Norwich, on August 3, 1939.
‘The war started exactly a month later and Thomas joined the Army and he worked his way up to a Major in the Ordnance Corps,’ she said.
‘He went to Burma where he caught malaria.’
They then moved to Newbury, Berkshire, but her husband was rushed into hospital in 1949 with a stomach ulcer and died the following year.
‘I think it was everything that he picked up in Burma that killed him,’ she said.
‘I loved being married.
‘When he died his mother didn’t want a post mortem so we never found out exactly what killed him.’
The couple did not have any children.
Mary moved back to Norfolk and became a secretary at Norfolk County Council before returning to her old job at the court.
Her sister Edna died of pancreatic cancer in 1981 and Mary lived with her beloved big sister Keeny in a bungalow in Brundall until she died in 2006 aged 102.
Mary moved into a home in Letheringsett for a year before she went back to live in Brundall with the help of carers.
The incredible centenarian has lived in Manor House Residential Home since April.