INSPIRATIONAL Ethel Wilkinson celebrated her 100th birthday surrounded by her loving family and friends.
A huge family party was thrown to celebrate Ethel’s big day with some relatives travelling thousands of miles to be there for the special occasion.
More than 80 relatives and friends attended the party at her home in the Grange Road area of Hartlepool where she lives with her son Paul and daughter Kathleen Wilkinson.
Her eldest grandson Mark Wilkinson, 45, and his wife Karen travelled from South Africa to be there.
Kathleen, 63, said: “Everybody had a fantastic time at the party, we want to do it all again.
“The next day my mother was bright as a button. I’m amazed at her energy, it is absolutely remarkable.”
She added: “My mother has been an inspiration to all her family and is a joy to look after.
“She has lived with us for the past eight years and is grateful to be surrounded by the love of her children, 14 grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.
“She continues to knit baby blankets for each new arrival.”
Ethel was born on July 26, 1912 in Byker, Newcastle, the youngest of ten children. She is the last survivor of that generation.
After leaving school she worked in a toffee factory and as a maid in Liverpool before becoming a nurse at Grantully Maternity Home in Westbourne Road, Hartlepool.
Ethel vividly remembers helping to move patients into the cellar during air raids in the Second World War.
She met her husband Tom Wilkinson at a dance at the Borough Hall and they married at St Cuthbert’s Church in 1940.
They had six sons, Thomas, 70, Paul, 69, Anthony, 68, Michael, 67, John, 66, Philip, 65, and daughter Kathleen.
Ethel’s husband Tom died suddenly aged just 47 leaving her to bring up their young family alone.
In her younger days, Ethel was a keen cycler, swimmer and tennis player.
She once rode to Newcastle and back before going on to a dance at the Borough Hall.
Ethel puts her long life down to keeping active and raising her family the old fashioned way without the use of modern gadgets.