COLCHESTER’S oldest resident has celebrated her 107th birthday - and still enjoys a tipple of gin and lemonade.

And as Margaret Gilbert enjoyed opening her birthday cards, there was one well-wisher whose signature she has come to recognise.

Mrs Gilbert’s 107th birthday meant it was the fourth time she has received a birthday card from the Queen.

It is part of a tradition dating back more than a century where centenarians receive a message of congratulation from the monarch on their 100th birthday, and then, a card each year from their 105th birthday onwards.

Mrs Gilbert’s second cousin, Judy Alden, spoke about just how Mrs Gilbert kept going and what her secret was to living a long and fruitful life.

She said: “It’s keeping your mind active – that’s what the secret is.”


Still going strong – Margaret with her bother John, 92, and her sister Joan, 102

Still going strong – Margaret with her bother John, 93, and her sister Joan, 102


Of course, if there isn’t one secret to a long life, then perhaps it is just a case of having good genes – Mrs Gilbert has two siblings who are also still going strong, with her younger sister Joan, aged 102, and her brother, John, now 93 years old.

And even at the age of 107, there is still time to enjoy some of life’s smaller pleasures.

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Judy Alden explains Mrs Gilbert, who until recently still lived independently before moving to Woodlands Residential Home for Ladies in Lexden, still enjoys a gin and lemonade as a small treat to herself a few times a week.

Mrs Gilbert was born Margaret Amesbury in 1914, and married George Gilbert in the 1930s.


Throwback – Margaret with her husband George on their wedding day in the 1930s

Throwback – Margaret with her husband George on their wedding day in the 1930s


Mr Gilbert died 40 years ago, but Mrs Gilbert has continued to live a long and happy life, the last 40 years of which she has spent in Aldham.

“There’s an element of surviving and carrying on,” Judy said.

“Up until she was 100, she was still looking after her son who had prostate cancer – I think that kept her going.

“That is probably also part of her secret – she’s always had something to live for.

“She is ever so frail, but she is still all there mentally. She has lived quite a quiet life, but there is always something going on in the background.”