Sybil still's going strong at 105

By Katy EdwardsLAST week Sybil Lummis said goodbye to her home help, vowing to cook and care for herself.This week she celebrated her 105th birthday in her Ipswich flat, surrounded by flowers and cards, including a special one from the Queen.

By Katy Edwards

LAST week Sybil Lummis said goodbye to her home help, vowing to cook and care for herself.

This week she celebrated her 105th birthday in her Ipswich flat, surrounded by flowers and cards, including a special one from the Queen.

Miss Lummis attributed her longevity and good health to having escaped the shackles of marriage, insisting: “There was no-one I wanted, I'm not the marrying sort. I much preferred to be a spinster”.


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Her life has spanned three centuries, two world wars, six monarchs and about 20 prime ministers.

Miss Lummis recalled buying groceries for her whole family, including five siblings, for less than two shillings (10 pence) and seeing the first moving pictures on a screen in Wembley.

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“I saw this man talking in a box telling us he was three miles away. You couldn't see much, it wasn't very good,” she said.

Miss Lummis was born in 1898 - three years before the death of Queen Victoria - and grew up at Monk House in Coddenham.

She was the daughter of master carpenter, George Lummis, a keen bellringer who died of cancer in 1912, aged 52.

Miss Lummis has lived for most of her life in Suffolk and was in charge of the dispatch office at the Blue Circle Cement Works in Ipswich for 31 years until she retired in 1958.

Her two brothers Eric and Ralph were killed in the First World War, aged 24 and 26. Her sister Maud served with the Wrens during the war in Malta.

Miss Lummis has outlived all her siblings, including two other sisters Nora and Nell, by at least 15 years. Her lifelong friend, Mary Day, who also grew up in Coddenham, died in 1996, aged 96.

She still keeps up with all the news from her nieces and nephews and their children and said of life in the 21st Century: “Some things have improved, some haven't.

“Youngsters get things much too early. They know everything by the time they are 12, instead of growing up gradually. Most of them are bored stiff.”

Miss Lummis was also opposed to a war in Iraq, insisting: “We've had enough of that. We don't want any more.”

Asked if she would like to live to be the oldest person in Britain - reaching an age of about 110 - she said: “I don't see why not, if my health holds out.”

Fellow residents at the sheltered housing complex in Silent Street, Ipswich, where Miss Lummis lives said she was still “as sharp as a tack” and kept everyone on their toes.

Betty Knowlson, a neighbour, said: “I envy her brain - she's as bright as a button.”

David Robinson, scheme manager at the complex, added: “Sybil is still very independent. She's quite a girl.”

Although Miss Lummis is hard of hearing and has some trouble walking, she still manages to get out and about in the summertime.

For her 104th birthday, she hired a taxi on the spur of the moment and took her friends to see bluebell woods in the countryside.

She celebrated her 105th birthday with a party at home with her friends and neighbours.

katy.edwards@eadt.co.uk

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