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Double celebration as Violet, 100, and Margaret, 102, celebrate big birthdays on same day

PUBLISHED: 17:00 20 August 2013

Violet Johnson: Still going strong at 100 'thanks to puzzle books'

Violet Johnson: Still going strong at 100 'thanks to puzzle books'

Archant

With a combined age of 202, Violet Johnson and Margaret Sargent show no signs of stopping – and their families reckon it’s down to puzzle books and hard work.

Violet Johnson celebrates her 100th birthday with daughter-in-law Fran Green, son Barry Johnson, daughter Valerie Holmes and son-in-law Ken HolmesViolet Johnson celebrates her 100th birthday with daughter-in-law Fran Green, son Barry Johnson, daughter Valerie Holmes and son-in-law Ken Holmes

Last week there were celebrations at opposite ends of the borough as Violet, of Harold Hill, turned 100, while Margaret, of Hornchurch, went two better and hit 102 – on the same day.

The younger of the pair marked her century at home in Oxford Road on August 13.

And Margaret, who lives in Dury Falls Care Home, spent the day with friends, family and entertainment.

For Violet it was a poignant occasion as well as a celebration. Her older sister Nelly died five weeks before reaching 100 a decade ago, and her younger sister Daisy had died eight years before that.

Margaret Sargent celebrates her 102nd birthday with her daughter Jill WylesMargaret Sargent celebrates her 102nd birthday with her daughter Jill Wyles

Violet, who used to work in the kitchens in the Guildhall in the City of London, moved to Oxford Road in 1972 – becoming the first person to live in the newly built house.

“I think the secret is keeping her brain active,” said daughter-in-law Fran Green.

“She sits doing puzzle books all day – she goes through hundreds and her mind’s constantly active.

“She likes wordsearches. We always know what to get her for birthdays and Christmas.”

Margaret and JillMargaret and Jill

Margaret, who moved to Gidea Park 20 years ago to be with her daughter Jill, is originally from Leicester.

A regular churchgoer, she was in the congregation at St Michael’s and cut a familiar figure around the area – getting her hair done and collecting her pension weekly – before moving to the home three years ago.

She celebrated her special day with daughter Jill Wyles and friends from the home, plus entertainer William Byrne, who delighted the guests with old standards from days gone by.

For Jill, her mother’s longevity is a bit of a mystery. Margaret’s young life was hit by tragedy when her mother died of cancer and her seven-year-old brother died of diphtheria in the same year.

“Her father lived to 86, but that’s average,” said Jill, 61. “So where she’s got her long life from, goodness only knows.

“Maybe it’s hard work. She doesn’t look 102 to me – I think she looks about 85 – so I honestly don’t know what her secret is.

“I wish I could have some of it!”


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