107-year-old Saffron Walden resident is almost the oldest woman is Uttlesford

Mary Martin Dancing

Mary Martin Dancing - Credit: Archant

Mary Martin celebrated her 107th birthday on Thursday and danced at her party.

Mary Martin at 107

Mary Martin at 107 - Credit: Archant

Entertainer Brian Shaw sang songs from throughout her life including Alexander’s Rag Time Band, written in 1911. He threatened to put on a Charleston but Mary and her daughter Ann danced to Dream a Little Dream of Me.

The floor filled at the Hatherley Care Home in Saffron Walden where Mary lives, the party included bubbles and cake and Mary was happy to chat about old times with her children Ann and Chris. She has three grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

Mary was born in London on January 14 1909, the youngest of four children. She was five when the First World War broke out and remembers it clearly.

She said: “We were very frightened when the Zeppelins were coming over. We weren’t used to Zeppelins. We used to lay flat on the floor in the kitchen or wherever we were. We thought we were safe lying down.”

At the start of the Second World War, she had two young children. “They wouldn’t let me stay in London because Chris was just a baby. We were evacuated to Macclesfield. I hated it. It was so quiet, deathly quiet. There was nothing going on there. I wasn’t used to the North, I was born and bred in London.”

After a year in Macclesfield, she went to Hearn Bay in Kent where she stayed until the war was over.

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Mary was a trained legal secretary who worked in Lincoln’s Inn and still uses her Pitman shorthand.

She said: “I would like a typewriter, if you can still get the ribbons.”

Her son Chris said: “She always worked. She always had a job.”

He said one of the reasons for his mother’s longevity was a lot of walking.

He said: “Only last year, we were walking along the lanes in Cheshire and climbing the hills.”

As the song Daisy, Daisy was played at the start of the party, Chris said: “My parents used to have a tandem, they callied it Tullula.”

Mary met her husband, Stanley on a walking holiday in the Lake District. Her daughter, Ann joked: “They called it the HCA, the husband catching association.”

She added: “Mum always loved reading, she should have been an academic and she and my dad played Scrabble.”

Stanley, a civil servant, died in 1989 aged 73.

Asked for the secret of a long life, Mary said: “Relaxing and enjoying life and walking. If you can relax and enjoy life as far as you can and if you can. I have been very fortunate in having kind and helpful people around me all the time.”

Careworker Vera Wilson at Hatherley said: “Mary likes to get up in the morning. If she is woken later than eight o’clock she is not happy. She says: “Wake me up or I’ll miss the day.”

Surprisingly, Mary is not the oldest person in Uttlesford or even the oldest Mary. Mrs Mary Powell who lives in Redbond Lodge in Great Dunmow is four months older than Mary Martin having been born on September 8, 1908. Mrs Powell celebrated her birthday by starting the day with smoked salmon and champagne and still sings and joins in with activities.

Sue King, manager at Redbond Lodge said: “We didn’t have a big party because Mary said she didn’t want a fuss but we had a party. She still enjoys life and joins in with arts and crafts.”