102-year-old Alice Shill spent many hours of overtime making flags for national ceremonial events during her working life but this week the bunting went up in a Hailsham care home in her honour.
It was Alice’s birthday on Monday 20th January and the team at Care UK’s Bowes House care home helped her to celebrate by organising a special party for residents and relatives. Balloons spelled out her age, she was surrounded by bouquets, as well as flags, and she blew out candles galore on a cake made especially for her.
Hailsham Mayor Cllr Jo Bentley called in at Bowes House with her own flowers and chatted with the centenarian, as did Police Support Community Officers Alison Bond and Faye Fletcher whose beat passes the home.
Alice’s niece-by-marriage Daphne Grime was there too and said that in all the time she had known Alice she had “never, ever heard her grumble” but it was no surprise to her that her aunt had reached 102.
Alice spent 50 years as a machinist working for Arthur Smart and Sons in Bermondsey Street, London. She was asked to set up a new business for them in Manchester but her husband Geoffrey, an office clerk, wasn’t keen on moving and so they stayed put.
Eventually after retirement they moved to Willingdon, Eastbourne. Geoffrey died 10 years ago while Alice moved into Bowes House last November after a stay in hospital. She was a child during the First World War and can’t remember anything of it but she does remember life being hard during the Second World War. One of her strongest memories is of the time she was blown from one side of the room she was working in to the other when a bomb dropped.
Alice was one of seven children and said it was sad that she didn’t have children of her own but she enjoyed watching her nieces and nephews growing up. Her father was a printer of newspapers and books and her mother looked after the family home and children. Her youngest sister, 10 years her junior and her only surviving sibling, lives in Southend-on-Sea, Essex.
Alice says she is a quiet person who has lived quietly and she can't think of any tips for living a long life. “I have just lived an ordinary life,” she said.