THERE must have been more than a little sense of déjà vu for Bridport’s Kathleen Tingay as she celebrated her 105th birthday at Eypes Mouth Hotel.
For that’s where she and her family chose to celebrate her centenary five years ago.
Unknown to her a luncheon party was arranged for 25 of her fellow Vernon’s Court residents and family members.
The Bridport Town Crier, Jane Silver-Coran attended and entertained with her ukelele and singing.
She may not have known about the party but Mrs Tingay has strong views on gifts – she didn’t want any.
Son Frank said: “My mother is a supporter of Madam Curie Cancer Care and has requested no gifts for herself from anyone.
“Her preference is that a donation is made to Madam Curie and unknown to her the warden at her residence is arranging such a collection.”
Mrs Tingay attributed her long life to a diet of butter, cream cheese, jersey milk, sherry – and a love of music.
Her current favourites are The Proclaimers and she’s always listening to them, said Frank.
And her party was filled with Irish music and all the old favourites, he added.
He said: “We had a very good day, she had loads of cards and one from the Queen and the theme of the day was Marie Curie.”
Her sons also think her longevity is down to her tolerance for people and her interest in life.
She was born in Soho within the sound of Bow Bells on March 2, 1908, of an Irish mother and Swiss father.
Her father was a wine merchant but her mother died shortly after her birth and although she got a good education at the hands of French nuns she had to leave school at 14 to help support the family.
She improved herself by going to nightschool and speaking German and French meant she was much in demand as a management secretary, which she did until just before the Second World War when she met and married husband Phillip.
They honeymooned in Switzerland and she still has vivid memories of that – and more or less everything else, according to her children.
She had three boys and did not return to work, chosing to look after them fulltime.
She retired with husband Phillip to Bridport more than 30 years ago.
She remembered an idyllic summer here when she was 12 and the choice was quite deliberate to move here.
Mr Tingay died in 1988 and she carried on living alone until moving into Vernon’s Court in 2003.
She has always had a phenomenal memory, say her family and a love of books, particularly Thomas Hardy, and classical music.
Son Frank said: “She loves it at Vernons Court and is quite appreciative of everything that goes on.
“She still has a good memory about all the old days. She’s been taking an interest in the Bomber Command medals as one of our relatives flew a Lancaster and was lost and we’ll put in a request for a medal for him.”
She still enjoys family outings to Hive Beach.
She has three sons, Thomas, Robert and Frank and five grandchildren.
Son Robert now lives in Bridport after returning from America five years ago.