A woman whose middle name is Armistice is celebrating her 100th birthday on the centenary of the end of the First World War.
Hundreds of well-wishers have sent cards to Dilys Armistice Fox after staff at her Salvation Army care home in West Sussex, were concerned that her birthday would go unmarked because she only has two elderly relatives.
Mrs Fox, who grew up in the Caerphilly area of Wales before moving to London, said she was overwhelmed by the response.
She said: “I didn’t expect any of this.”
Referring to her middle name, she added: “I didn’t take much notice of it, to tell you the truth, until a few years ago when it dawned on me. It’s just a name to me.”
She said the secret to her long life had been “independence and honesty”.
“I am independent, very independent. I always get up before 6am and I make my own bed, get washed and dressed,” she said.
“I also believe in honesty, I am a very honest person.”
Mrs Fox said the greatest change in society in her lifetime was the creation of the NHS.
“I think it’s wonderful, it helps a lot of people. I know at the moment it is having difficulties but when it first started I always said to myself that’s one of the best things that could have happened because it helps ordinary people.”
She added that the best technological innovation was the television, which she first remembers from the Queen’s coronation.
She said: “Nobody had a television – we had to share it. I think it has changed the world as people can see things so quickly.”
She added that her best memories were of her parents and her grandmother.
Mrs Fox was a children’s nanny for all of her working life and married Henry Fox, who volunteered in the RAF during the Second World War and went on to become head gardener on the Windsor Great Park estate.
Recalling going to church along with the Queen at the estate’s church, she said: “I used to see her go past the house and you would bow your head in acknowledgement.
“Some people say to curtsy but we never did that, we acknowledged her with respect more than anything.”
Despite her past encounters with the monarch, Mrs Fox is unlikely to get the traditional 100th birthday card from the Queen as she was unable to find her birth certificate in time to send to Buckingham Palace.
After her husband died from a heart attack at the age of 70, Mrs Fox moved to Tunbridge Wells in Kent, before going into a local care home and then being transferred to the Salvation Army’s residential care home, Villa Adastra, in Hassocks, West Sussex, in 2013.
Head carer Sharon Bacon said: “She is dealing with all the attention really well, she’s absolutely loving it.
“We put out an appeal for birthday cards because we thought she wouldn’t get many cards as she only has two elderly nephews. Now it’s gone a little bit crazy – we’ve received at least 500 cards now.”
The local community is also planning to mark Mrs Fox’s birthday on Sunday by diverting its remembrance parade to the care home in order to sing Happy Birthday to the centenarian.
And children at Cardinal Newman Catholic School in Hove have set up the Dilys 100 club to send birthday cards to elderly residents.