Born on 29th February 1920, Hilary Don-Fox turns 100 on Saturday but, as a leap year baby, only gets to see her birthday once every four years.
While she may only be 25 on paper, Hilary has witnessed some great changes, seeing four monarchs and 18 prime ministers in charge of the country.
She thanks strong family ties for her long life and has some solid advice to younger generations – encouraging them ‘not to let anything stand in their way’.
Hilary said: “While some people worry about getting older, for me it’s a privilege as I’ve always been surrounded by family and friends.
“People often ask me about my secret for a long life, and I tell them it’s that family come first.
“Get that right and you’ll have enough support to weather anything life throws at you.”
While life has taken her as far afield as Cyprus, Palestine and the West Indies, today Hilary lives at Bupa’s Mellowes care home in Dorset, where the team are throwing a party to help her celebrate.
Maureen Vickery, who manages the care home, said: “Hilary’s really popular within the home, but also hugely close to her family, so we wanted to do something to bring them all together.
“We’re going all out with a big cake and decorations.
Along with a friend, Hilary also founded the Kennedy Club for teenagers with disabilities, where her son Charles – who had Down’s Syndrome – attended to enjoy games and social activities.
The club ran for some 20 years, supporting local children and their families.
Hilary stayed in Surrey after her retirement, before moving to Dorset in 2010 to be nearer to family, whom she remains close with today.
Her daughter, Harriet Atwood, said: “She was always independent but as she got older, it just made sense to be nearer family.
“She’s in a home now, but everyone’s been very good to her.
“The party will be like celebrating with one big extended family.”
“I’ve been quite looking forward to my birthday and having everyone together. I’m not normally one for a fuss, but it’s not every day you turn 25.”