Kate Powell, the Anna Chaplain for Alton, has loved getting to know the older community of Alton. She especially enjoys their colourful life stories and attitudes to life. Growing Old Gracefully shares the profiles of some of these amazing people and why they chose Alton to live out their final chapter of life. Here she talks to Shirley Benjamin.

1) How old are you and how long have you lived in Alton?

I am in my 90th year and will be 90 in October – which I cannot quite believe! – and have lived in Alton for 50 of those years.

2) What made you choose Alton?

I grew up in Bridgend as I have a Welsh father and an English mother. I met my husband, Ray, at a dance in the Grand Pavilion in Porthcawl on my 16th birthday, where I was allowed to go as a birthday treat with my sister. Ray was a friend of my sister’s on conscription, and he asked me to dance and then walked me home. We got married three years later and his job with the MoD took us all over the county. But in 1974 he was transferred to Bordon, which is how we ended up in Alton.

3) What do you like most about Alton?

We had a few different options for Ray’s transfer but chose Alton because, when we visited, we thought it was a nice little town to bring up our children. We really liked the schools and found the surrounding countryside lovely.

We sensed it had a nice community and I still find it very friendly. I have always appreciated how well the council runs the town – especially the Public Gardens and the lights at Christmas!

4) Tell me a little bit about a favourite time in your life?

My wedding day and the birth of my three children are the happiest days of my life, but one of my favourite experiences was on our 40th wedding anniversary. As a result of Ray’s job we were treated to a day out in the Houses of Parliament by Viscount Allen. We took a train to Waterloo where a taxi met us and drove us over the bridge. We were taken on a Parliament Tour which included lunch in the House of Lords dining room and tea in the House of Commons.

When I went to the ladies’ cloakroom, I bumped into Shirley Williams and we had a friendly chat. I couldn’t believe how down to earth she was. And then, to top it off, we also bumped into ‘Garfield’ – an old school friend of ours who had become an MP. Even though he hadn’t seen us for 30 years, he greeted us like old friends and gave me a kiss on the cheek, which makes me one of only a few people who can say they have been kissed by a lord in the central lobby!

5) What are your hopes and dreams for the future?

I know I don’t have a lot of time left but my hope is to remain independent for the years I do have because I don’t want to become a burden to my children. They all live hundreds of miles away and, while I do consider moving to be closer to them, the idea of leaving Alton does not appeal. I love to walk and the walks from my house are lovely, so I feel very content with all that I have and my dream is to enjoy it for as long as possible.

For Anna Chaplaincy details call Kate Powell on 07539 026546.