Life-long Leiston resident Olive Wilson celebrates 100 years

Olive and card from the queen Picture: SMYTH HOUSE

Olive and card from the queen Picture: SMYTH HOUSE - Credit: Archant

A Leiston stalwart is defying the coronavirus to celebrate her 100th birthday.

Olive Wilson loves the challenge of wordsearches Picture: SMYTH HOUSE

Olive Wilson loves the challenge of wordsearches Picture: SMYTH HOUSE - Credit: Archant

Olive Wilson has lived all her life in Leiston, having been born in Valley Terrace in 1920.

Mrs Wilson left school at the age of 15 and worked ‘in service’ for a family in the town’s high street where she was a housekeeper.

She gave up work after marrying her husband Stanley who she met in around 1939.

The couple spent virtually all their marriage living in Valley Terrace, where they raised their son.

Olive in her younger days Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Olive in her younger days Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY - Credit: Archant


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During the Second World War the couple played their part by billeting a WRAF named Beryl.

Mrs Wilson’s family said the experience had lead to a “remarkable friendship” between Mrs Wilson and Beryl until Beryl died four years ago.

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Her family said that Mr and Mrs Wilson had also enjoyed taking trips to Boston in the US after making friends with a young American serviceman who was then based at Leiston Airfield.

Contact between the families lasted long after the war and still continues to this day.

Olive and her late husband Stanley Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Olive and her late husband Stanley Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY - Credit: Archant

After their son grew up Mrs Wilson went back to work, holding a number of positions; principally at the Cupola Canning Factory and in the canteen of Leiston Works.

Mrs Wilson was also an avid walker and would often spent her afternoons on set walks around Leiston that would allow her to return home in time for tea and TV soaps.

Her son, Des, said that it was rumoured his mother’s walks were so regimented that people in the town would set their watches by the time when Olive passed their houses.

Stanley died in 2008 and Mrs Wilson continued to live in their family home until 2014 when she moved into Smyth House care home.

Olive has lived in Leiston all her life Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY

Olive has lived in Leiston all her life Picture: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY - Credit: Archant

The couple had one son, two grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

These days Mrs Wilson enjoys a good word search as well as getting her hair and nails done at Smyth House.

To mark her 100th birthday Mrs Wilson had been due to have a family gathering at a local restaurant but this was cancelled because of the coronavirus.

Instead Mrs Wilson will mark the occasion with a tea party at the home with a special cake having been made for her by one of the cooks.

The home also put out an appeal for local people to send in birthday cards or pictures to make up for the cancellation of Mrs Wilson’s birthday tea with a tremendous response having been received.

Manager at Smyth House, Marilyn Mayhew, said: “Olive is incredible,she is fitter than those half her age - she loves it at Smyth House and every day she says ‘Thank God for places like this and people like you, our mother’s never had anything like this.’

“She is so grateful for everything we do and we love her, she is such a character.”

READ MORE: Calls to share family stories to prevent social isolation during virus outbreak

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