ONE of the country’s oldest people celebrated their astonishing 111th birthday yesterday.
Victoria Southam, known as Vicky, is the fourth oldest living person in the UK and amazingly is still enjoying life living in her own home in Streetly, West Midlands.
And whereby a tot of brandy or plenty of vegetables are usually attributed as some of the secrets to a long, healthy life – for Vicky it’s simply drinking lots of water.
She received a telegram from the Queen today/yesterday (TUE) to celebrate the special milestone.
The plucky pensioner enjoyed a party at Alrewych Court Day Centre in nearby Aldridge with her friends and family and toasted her birthday with champagne and a sing-song.
She has come a long way since she faced death aged 50 following complications during an operation.
Vicky, who suffers from arthritis, said: “I am having a really good day. Everybody is so friendly.”
She attends the centre twice a week and enjoys nothing more than doing her exercises and going out with her friends.
“I enjoy the exercise to keep my legs going,” she added.
But according to Vicky – who was born on Queen Victoria’s birthday – her longevity is simpy down to drinking lots of water.
Vicky, who walks using a zimmerframe, continued: “They said at the hospital if everyone drank as much water as I did they would live a lot longer.”
Hard-working Vicky left school at the tender age of 12 and went straight into work at a factory manufacturing bullets during the First World War.
After marrying and having one child, she went to work at the City Hospital in Birmingham nursing wounded soldiers.
Her husband Walter died in 1994 after his health declined through Parkinson’s disease.
Talking about her mother, daughter Jean Adams, 75, from Streetly, West Mids, said: “She is a very strong, determined lady. She has had a hard life in her early life but she is still going strong. Her blood pressure is good and her heart is good – she is fairly strong.
“It is amazing.”
Jean was told her mother’s life hung in the balance when she went into hospital for a hysterectomy when she was 50 when Jean was a schoolgirl.
“I was taking my school certificate and I was called out because they didn’t think she was going to pull through,” Jean said.
“I would like to meet the doctors and surgeons who 61-years ago thought she was not going to pull though.
“It is astonishing. I never imagined she would still be going strong at the age of 111.
“It is a great achievement still living at home at her age. She is stubbornly independent.
“Her secret is moderation in all things but she also used to drink a lot of water.”
Vicky’s granddaughter Lynn Adams, 42, who also lives in Streetly, West Mids, added: “I can’t believe it. I look at her and I think, I can’t believe she is 111.
“I love her so very much. She is my world. ”
Lynn visit’s her grandmother every week and does her hair and nails.
“I spend time with her and give her some love,” she said. “She is an inspiration but she is a worry as well.”
In 2000, Vicky was one of 15 centenarians invited to St Paul’s Cathedral to celebrate the Queen Mother’s birthday.