Great-great grandmother from Barking and Dagenham celebrates her 105th birthday

PUBLISHED: 16:31 04 July 2013 | UPDATED: 17:53 04 July 2013

Lillian Twinley on her birthday

Lillian Twinley on her birthday


Porridge, grapes and a garlic pill every morning are the secret to a long life believes Lilian Twinley, who has just toasted her 105th birthday.

Lillian Twinley with her daughter Sheila Cartwright and son Edward TwinleyLillian Twinley with her daughter Sheila Cartwright and son Edward Twinley

The great-great grandmother celebrated the impressive milestone on yesterday at her home in Harp House, an assisted living centre in Barking, with family and staff.

“I’ve eaten oats, grapes and a garlic pill for years and I do think it might help,” she smiled. “Though it probably has something to do with the genes too. My mother and her sisters all lived well into their 90s.”

Lilian was born in Poplar on July 3 1908 to a greengrocer and his wife. Her earliest memory is from 1911 when a dog bit her on the face.

“I remember that clearly and I still have a scar,” she told the Post. “Another early memory is of a zeppelin flying through the sky during the World War I. I recall seeing it burst into flames.”

Lillian Twinley from Dagenham, with her children, Harp House staff and a birthday card from the QueenLillian Twinley from Dagenham, with her children, Harp House staff and a birthday card from the Queen

Lilian married Edward (Ted) Twinley and had two children, Sheila in 1933 and Edward in 1940. During the war the family moved to the Becontree Estate in Dagenham after their home was completely destroyed by a bomb.

“Luckily none of us were there when it happened,” she said. “The house was flattened. It was terrible - we lost everything.”

“When we came to Dagenham I didn’t like it at all - too much countryside. But I grew fond of it over time.”

Her daughter Sheila Cartright recalled one rather unusual memory from their first months on the estate “My mother had cooked a goose in the oven for Christmas and we all ate it. She then talked to the neighbour who said the man who lived there before us had gassed himself to death in that oven. Needless to say the oven was removed pretty quickly!”

Lilian, who has four grand-children, nine great-grandchildren, and three great-great grandchildren, hopes to be here for her 106th birthday. “As long as I have all my faculties, and can move around, I’m happy to keep going,” she said.

Sheila thanked the staff of Harp House for their care and support: “They are fantastic and I think it’s partly down to them that mum’s 105.”

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