FOR Kathleen Bohringer, a resident at The Lawn, Holybourne, February 26 was a special day – it was her 101st birthday!

With her son, John, daughter-in-law Christine, granddaughters Angela and Susanne, and her grandchildren, Kathleen cut her birthday cake during the party organised by the staff and then joined in a sing-song led by entertainer Tony Wicks, who had everyone singing, especially Second World War songs.

Kathleen, described by her son as “always fiercely independent”, was born in Brixton where she went to school and later trained at a secretarial college and became secretary to a director at Shell House, opposite Waterloo station.

While working in London she met her future husband, Arthur, an import-export clerk working in Smithfield market and after they married Kathleen gave up work to look after their son and, at times, her husband who suffered from TB and a heart condition.

They were still living in Brixton in a house they bought for £1,000 when Kathleen became a secretary and a partner of a building firm and the family moved to a £2,000 house in Clapham.

The building firm continued to thrive until the 1981 Brixton Riots when it was wiped out because customers who lost businesses couldn’t pay them and the national company cancelled contracts.

When John and his family moved to Blackwater, Kathleen followed and moved into sheltered accommodation where she insisted on remaining independent.

Last year she needed to move to The Lawn where, said her son, who now lives in Farringdon, “she has been very happy and she really enjoyed her birthday party”.