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Celebrations as Laura completes eventful and challenging 100 years

PUBLISHED: 09:31 21 October 2014 | UPDATED: 09:31 21 October 2014

Laura Spurling has celebrated her 100th birthday at Witton. Pictured with Lyn and Mike Linley, and Val Etheridge, left, owner of Heron Lea. Photo: Bill Smith

Laura Spurling has celebrated her 100th birthday at Witton. Pictured with Lyn and Mike Linley, and Val Etheridge, left, owner of Heron Lea. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2014

She's lived through the ends of both world wars, and seen the coronation of the Queen.

And Laura Spurling's own 100 years have been as eventful - with the centenarian still entertaining staff at the care home she now resides in.

Laura Spurling pictured as a young woman. Photo: SubmittedLaura Spurling pictured as a young woman. Photo: Submitted

Mrs Spurling, née Blanchflower, was born at Lock and Key Yard on Ber Street on October 16, 1914.

The second youngest of three sisters and three brothers, as a young girl she would help her father sell chicken coops from a barrow on the Cattle Market.

One of her first jobs was a maid in service before going on to serve as an auxiliary nurse during the 1930s.

And during the Second World War, Mrs Spurling, who had a counter at the Garlands department store, remembers running home from work to her house on Victoria Street during the Blitz when Norwich was bombed.

In 1939, she married James Alexander Smith, the love of her life and the couple had four children before Mr Smith died in 1954.

Mrs Spurling’s daughter, Lyn Linley, said her mother has had to fight for everything in her life, and believes this has helped her to celebrate a century of birthdays.

She said: “She’s never stopped. She’s had a hard life in that she has worked for everything she has got.

“At the time my dad died, they were landlord and lady of The Great Eastern pub, but the brewery kicked her and us four children out because she was not on the licence.

“She brought up four children on her own for a number of years.”

The Norwich City fan married Bill Spurling, but they later divorced.

After opening a B&B in Thorpe Street, the great-grandmother opened her doors to the Norwich City Youth team and got her hands on the Milk Cup, after City won the trophy in 1985.

She now resides in the Heron Lea Home, Witton, near Brundall, and although she suffers from dementia, she keeps owner Val Etheridge and her staff entertained.

Ms Etheridge said: “At 100 years old she still calls the care workers my trollops and my wrenches. She is the oldest but she is probably the fittest”

Zoe Etheridge, a staff member at the home, added: “She’s just one of a kind and she speaks her mind with a lovely sense of humour. There is only one Laura.”

After travelling to far-flung areas such as the Middle East, Dubai, Canada and the Far East- where she spent time at the Malaysian royal palace, after her son married a relative of the Malaysian royal family- the once-keen artist now enjoys visits from her six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

And what does Mrs Linley believe the secret is to her mother living to 100?

“A shot of whisky and a tea in the afternoon. She’s just always got on with things; she’s a survivor with gusto. Nothing keeps her down; she’s an optimist and such a likeable person.”

Do you have a story to tell us? Email rebecca.murphy@archant.co.uk

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