A GREAT grandmother who is celebrating her 101st birthday says the key to long life is a good puzzle.

Ethel Candler, a Colchester Borough Homes resident, celebrated her special day yesterday.

To commemorate this important milestone, staff worked together with her family to organise a tea party for Ethel to enjoy with her friends and other residents at Nancy Smith Close.

Ethel, who was born in London and moved to Colchester in 2000, said she came to live near her daughter, Irene.

She married her husband, Ted, who lived a few doors down from her, in 1940.

The couple had son David, 76, and daughter Irene, 68, before Ted died from a heart attack in 1981.

Ethel has developed close and supportive friendships with a number of neighbours since she moved into Nancy Smith Close.

In 2015 she attended computer lessons provided by Community 360 in partnership with Colchester Borough Homes.

She is visited regularly by her family and grandchildren and also attends events and activities within the scheme. She has two grandchildren and one great grandchild who is nine months old.

She said: “I do a lot of reading and a lot of puzzles, anything that gets me using my brain.

“I’m quite good at it as I used to work in finance. I was a civil servant until I had my son.”

She said one of the biggest changes in her life was when she moved to Colchester, but she has embraced the change.

She said: “Recently when I had a flu jab I was asked if I had ever smoked. I don’t smoke or drink and they said that’s why I have lived so long. “

Colchester Borough Homes presented her with a cake, flowers and a card.

Gareth Mitchell, chief executive at Colchester Borough Homes, said: “We would like to wish Ethel a happy 101st birthday. Staff and residents are looking forward to joining the celebrations to give her the special day she deserves.

“Our Older Person Services team have great relationships with the people living in our sheltered housing and they love the opportunity to help celebrate these momentous occasions with them.”