Sat, 09 Feb 2019
WHEN Gertrude Annie Kingston was born on February 1, 1909, Edward VII was still on the throne.
And last Friday she celebrated her 110th birthday at Enbridge House Care Home in Woolton Hill, where she has been a resident for the past decade.
The remarkable feat means Mrs Kingston is officially a supercentenarian – someone who has lived to or passed their 110th birthday.
Mrs Kingston marked the landmark occasion by enjoying a cake with staff and friends.
While the heavy snow on Friday delayed the arrival of a card from the Queen, the special anniversary message arrived on Monday.
Commonly known as ‘Gertie’ to her friends and family, Mrs Kingston was born in Farnborough, but spent the majority of her life in West Berkshire, having moved here as a young girl.
One of her earliest memories was of her father leaving to fight in the First World War.
She also has recollections of returning from school to her home in Aldermaston in December 1917 to find her mother crying after receiving the news he had been killed.
He was on his way out of the trenches to make his first visit home when he was shot.
Eventually the family made their home in Yattendon, where Mrs Kingston took a job at Barn Close, where her musical talent flourished, learning to play the violin and the cello.
She also took part in the Newbury Musical Festival at the Corn Exchange, with a choir made up of villagers from Yattendon and Frilsham.
In 1954, Mrs Kingston who, during her time Barn Close had learned typing, took a job at the School of Military Survey at Hermitage.
It was here where she met her husband Ernie, who she married in February 1960.
They had many happy years together before he died in April 1983.
Mrs Kingston was a lifelong member of the Women’s Institute and was the secretary of the organisation’s Yattendon and Frilsham branch.
For many years, she also typed the village newsletter, The Broadsheet, which was typed on the old stencils and printed on a Roneo machine, as well as helping out at the Yattendon and Frilsham Fete.
She was also a stalwart of the Yattendon Church Choir.
Mrs Kingston taught English country dancing to young people in the village.
Eventually her health deteriorated and she moved a couple of times, arriving at Enbridge Residential Home in 2009.
The 110-year-old still manages the stairs twice a day to her room on the first floor of the house.
When asked what the secret is to living a long life, Mrs Kingston said: “Ordinary work and trying to please people.”
Mandy Plumb, the owner of Enbridge Residential Home, said: “When Gertie arrived at the home, she said, ‘As long as I can reach my 100th, I will be happy.’
“So we haven’t done a bad job, have we?”