The oldest person in town has died at the age of 109.
Mabel Edwards passed away on December 29 in East Surrey Hospital, weeks after celebrating her birthday surrounded by family, friends and music.
Now her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are coming to terms with losing the woman they called the root of their family tree.
Speaking for the family, granddaughter Hannah Edwards-Picknell said: “She was the life and soul of the party and loved to laugh and sing.
“She would sing around a piano as a young women with her children and was still singing on her birthday to her great-grandchildren.
“Her laugh was infectious and you couldn’t help but smile and laugh. We will all miss her beautiful smile.
“She was the root of our family tree and life will never be the same without her. She was the start of our family and she will be missed by all who had the pleasure of meeting her and those related to her – we’re blessed with her love.”
Mabel and her husband Geroge moved to Warren Drive, Ifield, in 1961 with their children, Chris, John, Maureen, Wendy and Brenda.
The family grew and Mabel saw 15 grandchildren, 27 great-grandchildren and 12 great-great grandchildren come into the world.
And she taught every single one of them to play rummy!
Born in 1905 – the year Einstein published his Theory of Special Relativity – Mabel was nine years old when World War One broke out and seven when the Titanic sank.
She had many a tale to tell about her exceptional life but the family’s favourite was always the one about Winston Churchill.
Mabel was living in Sloane Square as a child when the man himself stayed at her parents’ gentlemen’s club.
Sharing the tale, Mabel once said: “I used to go round with a candle on a silver tray for everyone to light their cigarettes. He came to dinner and sat at the end of the table. I went round everybody, but when I got to him I just stood there, so he blew the candle out. I felt such a fool.”
Mabel spent her final years at Deerswood Lodge, where she made many friends.
Home manager Arlette Chalcraft said: “Mabel came to Deerswood Lodge back in 2004. She was a pleasure to look after, a very pleasant and happy lady who liked to keep up to date with all national news. She loved her music and really enjoyed a good chat at anytime of the day, she will be sadly missed by other residents and of course myself and the carers here.”
Mabel will be laid to rest at 1.30pm on Friday 23 at the Surrey & Sussex Crematorium. The funeral will be followed by a celebration of her life at Gatwick Manor.
Her family has asked that any donations in her name be made to the Dogs Trust.