Crawley gran marks 101st birthday with newborn great-great-grandson

A Crawley resident Lily Leach heralded in her 101st birthday with a party joined by many of her family members, including her newly born great-great-grandson - picture submitted
A Crawley resident Lily Leach heralded in her 101st birthday with a party joined by many of her family members, including her newly born great-great-grandson - picture submitted
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A Crawley resident heralded in her 101st birthday with a party joined by many of her family members, including her first newborn great-great-grandson.

Lily Leach had a party thrown for her 101st birthday at Deerswood Lodge Care Home. The Mayor of Crawley, Chris Cheshire was also in attendance.

Her daughter Barbara Morgan said: “She had a lovely time. There was a piano and she was singing all her old favourite songs”

The centenarian said: “I do feel well and I am very happy living here, It’s hard to believe I am 101 though, who would have thought?”

The mother of four, grandmother of eight, great-grandmother of 21 and great-great-grandmother of one has led a happy and eventful life.

She was born on January 26, 1915 in South London.

According to Barbara, she had a happy childhood growing up with her two brothers, parents and grandparents who lived upstairs.

At the age of fourteen Lily left school and started work in a print factory for fifteen years.

During this time, she met her future husband Harold Leach and married him in 1938. The next year they had their first child, Barbara.

But the war changed their lives forever. Lily still recalls in great detail what she witnessed living in London during this time.

“There were bomb craters that could fit double-decker buses. I saw bodies being laid out in the road,” Lily said.

She was eventually evacuated to Norfolk whilst her husband was stationed as a soldier in North Africa.

After the war, they went on to have three sons together, Alan, Colin and Graham and like many families in post-war Britain, money was tight.

But they enjoyed a happy life. They eventually moved to a new house in Tulse Hill, South London. During this time, Lily took up many part-time jobs before finally settling on a cleaning job at the Gas Board head office where she stayed for seventeen years.

Her husband Harold sadly died when she was sixty. She spent the next fifteen years living alone in London before finally deciding to move to Crawley to be closer to her family.

Barbara said Lily has thoroughly enjoyed her later life. She became a regular at Gala Bingo club in Crawley with her daughter until at 96 her failing eyesight made it difficult for her to read the numbers.

She has been at Deerswood Lodge Care Home for the past three years where she still enjoys playing bingo - with a little help from the staff.

On the key to a long life, Lily said: “Walking, playing Bingo, laughter and a little bit of what you fancy does you good.”