JUST being happy with her lot in life is what Ada Werrell and her family put down to her longevity as she celebrated her 100th birthday.
A group of 45 friends and family attended her milestone party at Hotel 20 at the Kings on Christmas Eve, while the tower at Christ Church where she is a regular worshipper was lit up partly in her honour as it signalled the start of Christmas.
Ada, who has lived in King William Street for 73 years after growing up in Bristol, was delighted to receive her message from the Queen.
“It’s very nice to get the card from the Queen after the big year she’s had,” Ada said.
“If I have a secret it is just being content and happy.
“I liked my job and worked with nice people. We had some good times.
“I like having my birthday near Christmas because it brings it all together.”
Ada married GWR worker William Mervyn Werrell, known as Merv to his friends, and the couple moved to Swindon in 1939, before war broke out and Ada pitched in the Railway Works to make shells for the war effort.
They went on to have one daughter Marcia, now 66, two granddaughters and two great-granddaughters, many of whom now live in South Africa. Ada has lived alone since William died in 1980.
She said she has seen plenty of change in the area in that time, including Princess Margaret Hospital, where she worked in the shop for many years, being turned into flats.
An active member of the Mothers’ Union for more than 50 years, Ada also used to attend the Lady Chapel at Christ church to polish the brass and clean the altar linen with three other friends.
Granddaughter Helen Bleasdale, 41, said her grandmother was an inspiration to her.
“She was always a very strong, fiesty lady – quite formidable,” she said.
“She’s an inspiration for me I think because of her contentment. Nowadays, we are always driven to want more and bigger but she is just happy with her lot in life.
“I remember when she came to south Africa with my grandfather and she used to bring us presents. “We had sanctions so we could not get all the modern things but they always brought suitcases full of Barbie, Wagon Wheels or Penguins.
“She has been alone since my grandfather died but I think she was always the one who wore the pants. She keeps her mind active and still keeps up-to-date with everything that goes on in Old Town because she listens to the talking newspaper.”
The Rev Simon Stevenette, vicar of Christ Church, said: “Ada is wonderful and I look forward to taking communion with her, although it is at her home now becuse she cannot always make it to church.”