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We’re all 102! Surprise party for three centenarians

Trio celebrate landmark birthdays with family, friends, staff... and a cake!

26 April, 2019 — By Calum Fraser

From left: Violet Udall, Lawrence Vambe and Rosina Croft

THREE pensioners were given a surprise party in Archway as they all turned 102 this year.

The youngest of the three, Lawrence Vambe, who turned 102 on March 5, went to school with notorious Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe and lived through the war for independence before moving to the UK.

He wrote two books about this period: An Ill-Fated People: Zimbabwe Before and After Rhodes and From Rhodesia to Zimbabwe.

The oldest of the centenarians, Rosina Croft, who turned 102 on January 10, said: “I am well past my sell-by date. I don’t really have a secret for living this long except maybe sleep, lots of sleep.”

She remembers VE Day, when the Nazis surrendered in 1945, as a day of huge celebrations.

“Everybody was drinking and going mad,” she added. “Wherever you went, you had a drink.”

Violet Udall, who grew up in Holloway, celebrated her 102nd birthday on February 10. She became one of the first employees of the newly formed London Transport organisation, that has now become Transport For London, in 1948.

She always dreamed of following her father into the print trade, which she thought would be “quite romantic”. But her first job in a “shaggy old” printing room south of Islington did not live up to her expectations.

She believes the time she spent with her children going on trips around the city were her happiest memories.

Asked what she felt about reaching 102, she said: “It was fine, I didn’t have to do much.”The trio were surprised by family, friends and staff at the Cheverton Lodge, in Cheverton Road, on March 30.

The chef at the home baked a birthday sponge cake made up of bananas, almonds, vanilla and whipped cream, and topped up with fresh strawberries.

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