Proud royalist turns 100

Violet Burch
Violet Burch

THIS centenarian reckons she is one of the royal family’s ‘most loyal subjects’.

And self-professed royalist, Violet Burch, of Littlehampton, has good grounds for making the claim. She has, after all, met Princess Anne, twice, and owns countless coffee mugs with pictures of the monarchy on.

On Saturday, Violet received an official message from the Queen, wishing her a happy 100th birthday.

“I am one of the most loyal subjects,” said Violet, known as Vi to her friends and family. “I have got pictures of the royal family in my room, and royal mugs everywhere.

“But getting a birthday wish from the Queen was wonderful. I’m going to have a special frame to put it in.”

Vi was born on March 8, 1914, in Lindfield, near Haywards Heath, the eldest of five brothers and sisters.

At the age of 16 she left school to train as a children’s nurse. After qualifying, she worked mainly in London.

However, with the outbreak of the Second World War, Vi moved to Chichester to look after 18 young children and orphans.

“My life’s work has been caring for children,” she said. “Ever since I was 12 and my youngest sister was born I have been looking after children. It’s something that I really love.”

After the war, Vi went back to live in London. In 1953, she spent the night camping out in the streets of the nation’s capital to catch a glimpse of the Queen in her coronation procession.

Ten years later, in 1963 she looked after cabinet minister John Profumo’s children, in the midst of his scandalous affair with Christine Keeler.

Vi said: “I remember being their nanny during the scandal. I was looking after his two sons. We had to travel up to Scotland to stay in the castle of Mr Profumo’s friend.”

Although retired for many years, she has been a dedicated volunteer at the Save the Children cshop in Surrey Street, Littlehampton, for more than a decade.

During her time there, she had the chance to speak to Princess Anne, when the royal visited Littlehampton, in 2011.

“That was a wonderful experience,” she added.

Vi said that although she has reached her 100th birthday, it will not stop her from leading an active lifestyle.

She said: “I can do everything I used to do when I was 60. I can still do a five-mile walk. And I still love to go swimming in the sea.

“I don’t like bathhouses. When the weather warms up I will be going back in the sea.”

Vi had two parties to celebrate her big day, one on Saturday, at the Oakland Grange care home in St Flora’s Road, where she lives, and then a special lunch, on Sunday, at the Vardar Restaurant, in Selborne Road, Littlehampton. Her family also bought her an exclusive helicopter flight to celebrate her birthday.

“It was such a lovely day,” Vi added. “I didn’t want lots of presents. I wanted people to donate to Save The Children, as my present.”