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'I'm blessed in every way' - An almost 103-year-old shares her secret to a long and happy life

PUBLISHED: 17:41 20 May 2019 | UPDATED: 17:41 20 May 2019

Gertrude Raven of Cawston is about to celebrate her 103rd birthday, and still loves to do the gardening. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Gertrude Raven of Cawston is about to celebrate her 103rd birthday, and still loves to do the gardening. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2019

She shares the same birthday with Queen Victoria, and was born just 15 years after that famous monarch died.

Gertrude Raven of Cawston is about to celebrate her 103rd birthday, and still loves to do the gardening. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYGertrude Raven of Cawston is about to celebrate her 103rd birthday, and still loves to do the gardening. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

And Gertrude Raven's mind is just as sharp as ever as she gets ready to celebrate her 103rd birthday on Friday, May 24.

Mrs Raven said her long and healthy life was thanks in part to a strong relationship with the almighty, as well as a tot of whisky every night before bed.

She said: "Jesus is the one who comes to me every day and tells me my time has not yet come.

"I'm blessed in every way. It's a wonderful life."

Gertrude Raven of Cawston is about to celebrate her 103rd birthday, and still loves to do the gardening. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYGertrude Raven of Cawston is about to celebrate her 103rd birthday, and still loves to do the gardening. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mrs Raven, nee Le-Neve, has spent the past 36 living in the village of Cawston, but she was born and bred in Norwich.

The family lived in Barrack Street when she was growing up, and her dad served in the Boer War and the First World War. Mrs Raven went to Wensum View school but left when she was 14 to go and work at the Start-Rite shoe factory.

She said: "Life has changed dramatically from then. We had 48 children in a class with one teacher to look after us.

"I used to ride the open-top tram to work and if the bottom was full you'd have to go up to the top, also in the snow or the heavy wind."

Gertrude Raven of Cawston who is soon to celebrate her 103rd birthday. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYGertrude Raven of Cawston who is soon to celebrate her 103rd birthday. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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After she and her husband James Raven married in 1936 they moved to a farm near Southwold, where he looked after cows.

They also lived in Little Plumstead, and Mrs Raven also worked as a nurse.

She said: "I was a nurse down at St Andrew's, looking after all the dear old people."

Gertrude Raven of Cawston is about to celebrate her 103rd birthday, and still loves to do the gardening. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYGertrude Raven of Cawston is about to celebrate her 103rd birthday, and still loves to do the gardening. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Her husband died when she was 66 and she soon after moved to Cawston and ran the local pub, the Bell Inn, for five years before giving it up.

He hobbies include following Norwich City - she was a big Wes Hoolahan fan - and making things grow in her garden.

They had two sons, James, 82, and Peter, 79, and an ever-growing extended family including 17 great-great-grandchildren.

She said: "I was told years ago they would multiply and multiply, and so they have."

Gertrude Raven of Cawston is about to celebrate her 103rd birthday, and still loves to do the gardening. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYGertrude Raven of Cawston is about to celebrate her 103rd birthday, and still loves to do the gardening. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Her son James said they were all in awe of the family matriarch, who had a better memory about many things than he did.

He said: "There's nothing she doesn't do. You would never think she was coming up to that age."

Mrs Raven plans to spend her birthday with family.

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