CELEBRATIONS were in order as sprightly Olive Dowding marked her 102nd birthday.

Mrs Dowding, who lives in Brightlingsea, was born in south-east London.

In her youth, she worked in the ammunitions industry during the Second World War.

It was during the war she met her husband Ted Dowding who was in the army and they later married.

Gazette: Olive Dowding in her youthOlive Dowding in her youth


They moved to Poplar before settling down in South Ockendon in the early 1950s where they had two sons and a daughter.

Mrs Dowding’s daughter Brenda Norris, 73, recalls some memories growing up.

She said: “Mum and dad lived in Poplar they lived in a flat with my uncle and grandad as well.

“I’m the middle child, I have one older brother and a younger brother and growing up our parents were lovely.

“After her work in the war, mum worked in the cleaning business and then in retail until she retired.

“She lived in South Ockendon until four or five years ago when we had her moved to Springfields retirement home in Brightlingsea.”

Gazette: Olive at 19 during the Second World WarOlive at 19 during the Second World War

Over the years, Mrs Dowding has seen her family continue to grow, she now has eight grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.

Mr and Mrs Dowding were married for more than 60 years until Ted died 22 years ago.

Mrs Norris added: “She doesn’t have any really concerning health problems, she wears two hearing aids but that’s inevitable at that age.

“The only other thing I can remember is her hip replacements, but that’s about it.

“She still gets about and functions mainly by herself, makes cups of tea, has sandwiches, washes and gets dressed on her own.”

Mrs Norris said her mother still has a sense humour and enjoys cracking jokes.

She’s also happy that Mrs Dowding is enjoying her time at Springfields and getting along with everyone.

To mark her special day, Mrs Dowding enjoyed a coffee morning with friends before spending time with family.