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Norfolk’s oldest woman dies

PUBLISHED: 08:22 06 March 2018 | UPDATED: 13:38 06 March 2018

Edith Wilkinson with her book on Sir Tom Jones. She was a fan of the musician. Picture: MAURICE GRAY

Edith Wilkinson with her book on Sir Tom Jones. She was a fan of the musician. Picture: MAURICE GRAY

MAURICE GRAY

Norfolk’s oldest woman has died aged 109.

Edith on her honeymoon aged 23 after she married Walter Lawrence. Picture: WALTER LAWRENCE Edith on her honeymoon aged 23 after she married Walter Lawrence. Picture: WALTER LAWRENCE

Edith Wilkinson, known as Edie, who was described as sprightly and inspiring by her family, died in her Hethersett home.

Edith and Walter Wilkinson on their werdding day. Picture: SUPPLIED BY MAURICE GRAY Edith and Walter Wilkinson on their werdding day. Picture: SUPPLIED BY MAURICE GRAY

Her funeral will take place at Earlham Crematorium, Earlham Road, in Norwich this Thursday at 3.45pm.

Edith Wikinson with her first car - a Ford Popular. Picture: SENT IN BY MAURICE GRAY Edith Wikinson with her first car - a Ford Popular. Picture: SENT IN BY MAURICE GRAY

Mrs Wilkinson’s son, Peter, said, “Our mother was a woman forthright in her views, but loving and generous and she will be greatly missed.”

Edith Wilkinson with one of her daily glasses of Guiness. Picture: MAURICE GRAY Edith Wilkinson with one of her daily glasses of Guiness. Picture: MAURICE GRAY

As well as Peter, she had a daughter and was a grandmother and great-grandmother.

She was a widow of Walter Lawrence, whom she was married to for 50 years before he died, and Leslie Wilkinson, who has also died.

Mrs Wilkinson was born in London and had eight brothers and sisters.

As the family became older most of her siblings went their own way or emigrated to Australia, but Mrs Wilkinson decided to take a professional job like her father, who worked as a Harrods blind maker.

She got onto an apprenticeship where she learned how to upholster and make curtains.

She loved her job and was proud to meet “very posh people”, who ordered particular materials and patterns for her to make as required.

Mrs Wilkinson used to walk from her home to work, via Hyde Park, and would see King George V riding his horse and waving to the people. She would proudly wave back.

She met her first husband Walter (Wally) Lawrence, a bricklayer, and used to go out on his motorbike for rides including to his parents in Cromer.

They married when she was 23 and he was 27 and lived in London where they brought up their two children, Ann, 81, and Peter, 74, during the Second World War.

Mrs Wilkinson took on sewing jobs at home so she could look after her children while working for various businesses.

She had to give up her skill after her eyesight faded but she continued to enjoy a good book.

■Funeral donations, if desired, can be made payable to Cancer Research UK, and should be sent to R J Bartram and Son, Funeral Directors, 42 Fairland Street, Wymondham, NR18 0JB.

Secrets behind a long life

Family members of Edith Wilkinson have called her secrets of longevity “inspiring”.

Mrs Wilkinson rarely called a doctor, not even when her children were born.

She always maintained her only medicine was a daily Guinness, or two.

The grandmother and great-grandmother, born in 1908, also boasted she could touch her toes when standing, which she was very happy to demonstrate at the age of 109.

Last year on her 109th birthday Mrs Wilkinson had a “wonderful” party with family and friends.

As a surprise one of her brothers, Lenny Diegan, now 97, turned up at the party whom she had not seen for 71 years.

During an interview for a national magazine last year, she talked about her longevity.

She said: “It’s all down to hard work, you know, I loved my work and cars. I have always had a Guinness, or two, every day and it’s good for you.”

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