Midhurst's party girl - even at 100

Edith Arnold enjoys a party – or even three or four in quick succession.

And that is exactly what she got when she reached her 100th birthday.

A family lunch party, a party at her church, the Methodist church in Midhurst, a party with residents in the warden-supervised complex where she lives independently, and finally another cake to cut with members of a group she belongs to at the Grange Centre.

She sparkled through them all, and with her active mind and good memory, she is pleased to have been around for a century.

Born in Portsmouth when the present Queen's great-grandfather was on the throne, Mrs Arnold was one of a family of four. When the first world war broke out in 1914, her father wanted to join the army but was rejected because his eyesight was not good.

"He got a job in Midhurst and we moved up here. But then the War Office sent for my father so we went back to Portsmouth," she recalled.

"I think it was 1917 or 1918 when we came back to Midhurst and I've been here ever since."

Edith was in service at Stedham and the family lived at Cocking Causeway. Young men used to pass by their home on their way to the pub and that is how Edith came to meet her husband, Cecil.

"I got talking to him and that was it. We married when I was 21."

They had six children, four of whom survive. After she was widowed, Mrs Arnold continued to lead a busy life. Even now, she attends tai chi classes every week.

"I started about three years ago. I said to the teacher, 'I think I am too old', but he said you could start at any age so I go every Tuesday afternoon."

She also belongs to the Focus group for those with impaired eyesight, which meets regularly at the Grange Centre.

Finding it hard to believe she is 100 years old, Mrs Arnold says she has been fortunate: "I have enjoyed all my time."

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