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Photo gallery: 111-year-old Esme Pearce celebrates Corton House’s diamond jubilee

PUBLISHED: 12:17 22 March 2012

Sharing more than 200 years of memories - Irene

Sharing more than 200 years of memories - Irene "Esmé" Pearce, left, who is 111, has a quiet word with centenarian Constance Arabella Harvey at the Diamond Jubilee celebrations at Corton House in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2012

The fifth oldest person in the country was in the spotlight as a Norwich residential home celebrated its diamond jubilee year.

Irene Pearce, known as Esme, is 111, and enjoyed the attention of photographers as she cut the cake for the 60th birthday of Corton House, near City Road, Norwich, where she lives.

Alongside her was Constance Arabella Harvey, aged 100, who has been at Corton House since last August and clearly enjoys her time there, her only complaint being that she wishes there were more birds. “I sit in the garden when it’s sunny, but there never seem to be any out there,” she said

The anniversary of Corton House coincides with that of the Queen’s accession to the throne and a letter written on her behalf was proudly displayed on the table in the Myers Lounge in the care home. Balloons and a large home-made cake completed the display.

The Lord Mayor of Norwich, Jenny Lay, attended yesterday’s ceremony along with Sir Timothy and Lady Mary Colman, who presented the house with a diamond jubilee limited edition cup to mark the occasion.

“I want to congratulate every single one of you on this happy and successful story,” Sir Timothy said.

Corton House currently houses 36 women and six men. It was established in 1952, and was the first purpose-built voluntarily-run home for the elderly in England.

Graham Moore, general manager of the house, spoke of his pride at how the house had become “a great oak from a little acorn,” marking “60 years of care and support”.

The home was originally the brainchild of Peggy Tillett, a worker with the Norwich City Mission and a deacon of Princes Street Congregational Church. An eventide home was opened in an old manse after the war, but it was so successful that it was decided to buy the site of the bombed-out St Mark’s vicarage – and in March of 1952 the Lord Mayor of Norwich Eric Hindle opened Corton House.

Mrs Lay unveiled a commemorative plaque at the end of the morning, which was followed by a lunch for the residents and special guests.

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