THERE were special celebrations at the Graffham home of Vera Boxall when she celebrated her 100th birthday on Monday.
As well as armfuls of cards and flowers, Vera received a birthday card from the Queen which took pride of place among the many tributes paid to her throughout the day.
On hand to help her celebrate her centenary milestone were her son Buster Harry Boxall and her daughter Patricia Clements.
They helped her open her presents and cut a specially-iced cake.
Vera used the occasion to reflect on a long and interesting life.
She was born in London in 1913, just a year before the country was thrown into the horrors of the first world war and at a time when the British suffragette movement was at its height.
Just three months after her birth, suffragette Emily Davison died after stepping in front of King George V’s horse running in the Derby.
Vera was one of a family of nine children. She first worked in London as a messenger girl for a national newspaper in Fleet Street.
She lived though two world wars and during the blitz in the second world war, she was a leading fire women in London.
The first targeted air raid on London took place on September 7, 1940, and marked the beginning of the blitz when London was bombed for 57 nights in a row.
Firemen were constantly at work, not only putting out fires but dealing with explosions. Bombs in warehouses were especially dangerous due to the products they stored, such as highly-flammable alcohol and paint.
Vera was among the women who displayed extraordinary courage becoming fire watchers and drivers, managing the communications network and working in mobile canteen vans during the horrors that struck London.
After the war she came to live in Graffham, where she married Harry Boxall and has lived there for the last 63 years.
Vera attributed her long age to never drinking or smoking.
Her motto in life is: ‘Look on the bright side and if you can’t have a laugh you might as well be dead’.