‘A real diamond’: Chadwell Heath woman who counted Dame Vera Lynn as a friend celebrates 100th birthday

PUBLISHED: 17:00 12 October 2020

Eileen Webster from Chadwell Heath celebrates her 100th birthday. Picture: Lydia Alexander

Eileen Webster from Chadwell Heath celebrates her 100th birthday. Picture: Lydia Alexander


A woman who counted Dame Vera Lynn as a family friend has celebrated her 100th birthday.

Eileen Webster, of Spring Close, Chadwell Heath, celebrated reaching the milestone on Friday, October 9, but not as planned.

Her seven children wanted family and friends together for a big party at the retirement home, Anglia Court, but coronavirus restrictions put those plans on hold.

However, that didn’t stop Eileen getting her glad rags on and hair done to welcome visits throughout the day either in the garden or through a window.

These included her children, 10 grandchildren, eight great grandchildren and her great, great grandchild.

While this birthday was low key, special days in the past have not been for the faint-hearted.

For her 80th, Eileen took a flight on Concorde and to mark her 90th she had a helicopter ride over London.

Eileen’s family joke that there is still time to get her wing-walking, which is something she says she is keen to try.

You may also want to watch:

Eldest daughter, Joan, said: “As us old cockneys say, she’s a real diamond.”

Born in 1920, the retired carer grew up in Forest Gate and married James in 1938.

Joan, now 82, was born just before Eileen celebrated her 18th. Sadly, James died in 1991. Eileen then moved to Anglia Court.

Her claim to fame is that “Forces’ Sweetheart”, Dame Vera Lynn, was a friend of the family with the star attending christenings of Eileen’s children.

While raising her family, Eileen pursued a career in nursing, working at Langthorne Hospital tending patients with poor mental health.

Eileen’s caring nature continues to this day as she knits toys for children at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

She has called Chadwell Heath home for more than 30 years and is very much part of the community at the home, which is run by FirstPort.

Fellow residents helped make her 100th birthday special by raising enough money to buy Eileen gifts, including a hand-made celebratory cushion.

Eileen’s secret to living to the grand age of 100 is keeping fit and active. She has a good diet, enjoying a roast and all the trimmings regularly.

Alongside daily walks, she still does bicycle leg exercises every morning as well doing all her own chores.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Barking and Dagenham Post. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Barking and Dagenham Post