Margaret, 100, is as ‘bright as a button’

Margaret Hibbert celebrates her 100th birthday. Picture: Derek Martin DM1724290a
Margaret Hibbert celebrates her 100th birthday. Picture: Derek Martin DM1724290a

Centenarian Margaret Hibbert was born weighing only 3lb and was not expected to live.

Her mother had gone into labour early when a Zeppelin flew over during the first world war.

But little Margaret was made of strong stuff and to prove it, she celebrated her 100th birthday with family and friends on Saturday.

Littlehampton mayor Ian Buckland joined the party at Francis Court, sheltered accommodation in Church Street, Littlehampton.

Born Margaret Tennick on February 4, 1917, in Willington, County Durham, she has two daughters, Annie and Alison, five grandchildren and ten great grandchildren.

Annie said: “She is as bright as a button. She swears by a gin and tonic before dinner and a glass of red wine with the meal and has that every day.

“Her father was a miner and she had two brothers, a lot older, who my grandfather would not allow, although the mine owner expected it, to work in the pits.

“My mother was the only one of the three to go to grammar school and this made all the family proud, even though there was much expense for uniform and accessories. She took piano lessons and was an accomplished pianist.”

After Margaret left school, she ran the town sweet shop, which was owned by her elder brother, a successful grocer in Willington.

Annie said: “She had many suitors and was always busy with men buying chocolates for girlfriends before they went to the pictures.

“My father, Raymond Hibbert, stood his ground the longest and they were married on a cold January day in 1941.”

Raymond was an engineer and was called up to the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME), where they discovered he was colour blind.

After the Normandy landings, he was able to disclose that he had been working on landing craft design in Darlington, here they were living.

Annie said: “They had an easy time during the war and cycled through the Lake District every weekend on their tandem. This was sold when I was born in 1946 so that they could buy a pram.”

Alison was born in 1951 and when she was a toddler, the family moved south to Sutton in Surrey.

Margaret and Raymond lived in the same house for nearly 60 years and spent many of their latter years caravanning and travelling abroad, mostly on cruises.

Annie said: “My father died of prostate cancer in December 2003 and after celebrating her 90th birthday in style, my mum decided that she would move to a flat which offered some support.

“She moved into her present flat in 2008 and at first was able to walk down to the sea, which she loved. As her osteoarthritis worsened, however, she became more reliant on being taken out by car and now unfortunately due to her physical frailty is mostly confined to her flat.

“She is still abreast of the current political scene and world events and cannot abide bigotry of any kind.”

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