Winifred celebrates her 100th birthday

PUBLISHED: 06:38 02 November 2006 | UPDATED: 21:24 29 May 2010

Winifred Devoil celebrates her 100th birthday - Pic: Sarah Lucy Brown

Winifred Devoil celebrates her 100th birthday - Pic: Sarah Lucy Brown

Friends and family joined Winifred Devoil in Dunmow to celebrate her 100th birthday with a good old sing-song and poetry recital. Daughter, June Brown, said: Mum s always enjoyed getting up and performing in front of a crowd. She d always get a sing-a-lo

Friends and family joined Winifred Devoil in Dunmow to celebrate her 100th birthday with a good old sing-song and poetry recital.

Daughter, June Brown, said: "Mum's always enjoyed getting up and performing in front of a crowd. She'd always get a sing-a-long going when she went to the Barnston Over 65 Club and regularly read the passages during the services at Barnston church.

"Anyone who lives in the same house as her will tell you that she needs no second invite to get up and recite one of her poems, so it came as no surprise when she got up and performed some at her birthday party."

Mrs Devoil moved to Redbond Lodge Home for the Elderly, Chequers Lane, in November 2004 where she spends her enjoys singing, reciting poems and chatting with the other residents.

Her secret to a long life? Hard work and enjoying life.

Born Winifred Bayford, in Bishop's Stortford, she grew up in East Road as one of six children, five girls and one boy.

She started work when she was 13 at a house in Dunmow Road and worked her way up to be cook general.

In 1929 she married Ted Devoil and the couple came to live in Dunmow where they quickly became well known, especially as she started working at Dunmow Police station as a cleaner. Three years later the couple won the Dunmow Flitch, where couples compete to win a side of bacon.

Mrs Brown remembers that her mother's time as a cook came in very handy during the war years as families had to survive on rations: "During those years we were fed quite well. She managed to do some marvellous things with what she had."

The couple moved to Barnston in 1962 where they spent many happy years raising their family.

It was after the death of her husband in 1977 that Mrs Devoil started entertaining others.

"Mum had always kept us entertained at home with her poems, but you could see she was in her element in front of an audience. She may be small in stature, but she's big in charisma," said Mrs Brown.

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