“I don’t feel 100, I’ve never felt my age,” says Edna Bateman with a smile.
“I live an independent life, and my three wonderful daughters are always there when I need them.
“I am fit and happy, and still walk for an hour each day through the village.”
Edna pauses, a thoughtful expression on her face. “I heard on the news recently that the maximum age a human can live to is 125 – so I think I’ll aim for that next!”
As she speaks, Edna is surrounded by family and friends at her 100th birthday party in Wickersley, Rotherham.
A queue of well-wishers line up to chat to her, including two of her granddaughters who have flown thousands of miles from their homes in Australia and Canada to be by her side.
“It’s like an audience with the Queen!” laughs Edna’s daughter Pat, who arranged the party for her mum, along with sisters June and Ann.
“She’s the oldest person in the room, she’s outlived her oldest friends and I’m not surprised. My dad used to call her ‘Perpetual Motion’ because she’s never still and won’t be stopped.
“She gets her aches and pains but she refuses to let them get her down. She is fiercely independent and stubborn but I say good for her, because that’s what keeps her going. She looks and acts 20 years younger and we’re so proud of her.”
Edna even had to convince the postman he was delivering her card from the Queen to the right person.
“He didn’t believe the card could be for me,” Edna says.
“He kept asking me if I was really 100. I was flattered. It’s all down to Oil of Olay, which I’ve used for 30 years – it’s helped keep the wrinkles at bay.”
Longevity runs in Edna’s family – her mother lived to the age of 93.
But the Maltby-born great-grandmother puts her long life down to hard work.
She still volunteers one afternoon a week at Rotherham Hospice’s Browning Road charity shop. She’s even gained a reputation as the shop’s go-to girl when stock needs a good press.
“I do have 87 years experience with a steam press,” she says.
“I wasn’t brought up to sit about and people tell me I should take it easy but I like being busy and I really enjoy doing something that helps people.”
Edna left Maltby Hall School at 14 to work on a local farm, before taking a job in the kitchens at Maltby Grammar School. She met Willis in 1938 and they married while he was home on leave in 1942 during World War II. It was the death of her husband 19 years ago that inspired Edna to take up voluntary work.
“I love feeling useful,” she says. “The hospice is a very good cause and means a lot to the people of Rotherham. I’ll keep volunteering there as long as I’m able.”
But for today, the focus is firmly where it belongs – on the birthday girl, who’s reveals she’s had a wonderful few days.
“It’s been a fantastic celebration,” she smiles.
“My feet haven’t touched the ground for days - but I must admit I’m looking forward to getting back to work.”