Wish Lily a happy 109th birthday on Facebook

Lily Strugnell, a resident of Barchester's Orchard House care home on the Isle of Wight, is celebrating her 109th birthday on Tuesday 6 August with a party for friends and family. Born on 6 August 1904, Lily heads five generations of her family.  She is the mother of four, grandmother to three, great grandmother to four and great great grandmother to three. She moved to the Orchard House Care Home in June this year at the grand age of 108 and is frequently visited by her grand daughter Debra Turner. Much loved by all around her, she has had a new lease of life since moving into Orchard House and is enjoying life as the home’s eldest resident. From a generation that saw women gain the vote, two World Wars, rations, the proliferation of car and aeroplane travel, the advent of space travel, and to top it off, the rise of the internet – it seems that Lily has truly seen all the global milestones that longevity has provided her.  And her forthcoming birthday isn’t stopping her reaching for the record books – she has her own Facebook account which her great grand daughter manages for her to update her 300 Facebook friends around the country.  A true silver surfer! Family, fresh air, a love of gardening and good genes, all continue to shape this extraordinary woman’s life. When asked about her longevity, Lily said it was down to : "Plenty of patience, hard work and plenty of will power." Karen Oliver, General Manager at Barchester's Orchard House, said: "Lilly is an absolute joy to care for and always makes the staff smile.  We are amazed by Lily's rich life stories and all of us at Orchard House feel it is a privilege to be part of her life and this very special celebration. I'm sure she will post a photo or two on Facebook to her more than 300 followers!"  This is her story: Lily Coleman was born on 6 August 1904 at 37 Rudmore Road, off North End in Portsmouth, where the Continental Ferry Port is now situated.  She was delivered by her maternal grandmother, Hannah Bell, who was also the local midwife.  The house in Rudmore Road was her grandparents house where her family were living at the time of her birth. The eldest and only surviving member of 11 children, Lily’s father was a local fisherman.  They lived in a small fisherman’s cottage down by the harbour where at high equinox tides it would flood and twice a year they would have to relocate to the first floor to stay dry! As a supplement to her father’s income, her mother would cook up the catch and young Lily, aged five years old, would push a wheelbarrow around the local pubs and sell cockles, winkles and eels. Lily recalls meeting him in the local inn where he would place her on the end of the bar and say “what do you want my Lily Button?”.  She would reply “half a crown”, which she would then take home to her mother. At the age of eight she remembers a well known maiden voyage from Southampton Dock; the sailing of the infamous Titanic.  She was taken to see it go past Portsmouth. When she was 14, Lily began working as House Parlour Maid to Captain and Mrs Cousins at a large house in Southsea.  Mrs Cousins was known to have a short fuse and after firing a succession of cooks, Lily was requested to take over the position.  Lily was no cook so she asked for her sister Vera to join her.  After six months of intensive training Vera was to cater for a special dinner party and she was instructed to make a hedgehog pudding.  As an indication of commencing the next course, Mrs Cousins would ring a bell under the table.  However, when the sisters went to get the dessert the family dog had licked off the cream!  As the almonds were still standing and the bell still ringing, Lily and Vera had no choice but to take the dessert and serve it to the unsuspecting guests. Lily married Robert Strugnell in 1927 when she was 23.  They didn’t have a lot of money but she customised a second hand dress and wanted a veil the same as Elizabeth Bowes-Lyons, the Queen Mother, so much that she replicated one out of net curtains.  Robert suffered from health problems relating to mustard gas exposure during World War Two (as her father had following World War One) and he passed away in 1954. Lily and Robert had four children; Robert, Brian, Joy and Brenda.  During World War Two, Joy and Brenda belonged to a dance troop in Fareham where Lily made the costumes for them to perform at the Kings Theatre, Southsea.  They would entertain servicemen at nearby camps including American airbases where Lily tasted her first doughnut.  She was said to have stated that “they wasted more sugar on the floor than I have rations for the week”. Lily has always had a sense of adventure which continued well into her 70s when she boarded her first flight to visit family in South Africa in the 1970s, visiting Victoria Falls and going on safari. She has been able to look after herself until June this year when at the tender age of 108 she fell ill and came to stay at Orchard House Care Home in the Isle of Wight. At the grand age of 109, Lily is the oldest surviving War Widow which is being commemorated by the attendance of Elaine Duggan of the War Widows Association at her birthday party.