Winifred celebrates 109th birthday

A WOMAN whose life has spanned three centuries celebrates her 109th birthday today.

Winifred Bennett, who lived in her own home in Geddington until 2005, was born during the reign of Queen Victoria and has lived through some major historic events.

Mrs Bennett, one of the oldest people in the county, is originally from Oxford and had three daughters with her husband Newland, who died in 1968.

She moved to Hastings in the 1950s and later lived in Geddington for 27 years.

Now a resident at Thornton House residential home in Churchill Way, Kettering, she remembers meeting Lawrence of Arabia in Oxford in the 1920s.

The youngest of seven children, she moved to the area 29 years ago to be closer to her younger daughter.

Mrs Bennett, a great-great-grandmother, will be celebrating her milestone birthday with family and friends today.

Her surviving daughter, Hazel Brunger, said Mrs Bennett has never attributed her long life to anything in particular.

She said: "She eats a banana every day but she doesn't put it down to anything.

"In recent years, she broke her hip and ankle, but other than that, she's never had a serious illness.

"She is quite well, although this week she's been a little bit poorly. Sometimes I can get her going and she will remember things.

"We'll talk about family and her grandchildren."

Mrs Bennett's son-in-law Bill Brunger said: "Up until when she was taken ill when she 106, she had a remarkable memory.

"She always used to talk about the sinking of the Titanic. She said she had a distant relation on board when it went down."

Mr Brunger said: "Up until last year, she was very active and she used to be able to recite all the old ditties and songs."

Lawrence of Arabia gave her a book which he signed when she was living in Oxford.

Mrs Bennett has five grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.

Beryl Lister from Thornton House said Mrs Bennett is a sociable and friendly woman.

She said: "She's a lovely lady. She's always chatting away to the other residents."

Mrs Bennett's siblings all lived into their 80s and 90s.