One of the oldest living residents of West Sussex has celebrated her 107th birthday this week (Thursday 4 June) with a relatively low-key, lockdown celebration at Elmcroft care home, which is run by Shaw healthcare.
Grace Lilian Biggs, born in Cambridgeshire, started out working in domestic service in London, where she met her first husband, Reginald Apted. They married in 1933 and had two sons, Basil and David.
After the outbreak of World War Two, Grace decided to complete her training to become a welder – a skill she would later take to London’s Oxford Street for demonstrations. During the war, she worked on building the fuselage for aeroplanes.
Mrs Biggs, who has six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, remained an active woman throughout her life, becoming a line dancing teacher in the 1980s, representing her county in lawn bowls, and taking up ocean swimming – a pastime she continued even after turning 100.
She was surprised by staff with a birthday celebration at the home, which included a socially-distant Neil Diamond tribute act, and culminated in a special video call with her niece, Di.
Monica Donald, home manager at Elmcroft, said: “Since moving into the home in June last year, Grace has been a joy to be around. She often tells us how daily yoga exercises and garlic pills have kept her healthy into old age, and it shows. From teaching other residents how to play bridge to providing a reassuring arm around the shoulder, Grace is a wonderful character and we’re glad we were able to celebrate this milestone with her.”