Kenilworth woman who turned 100 says ‘being natural’ key to long life

Grace Walker celebrated her 100th birthday this week and received a card from the Queen too. NNL-171101-074319009

Grace Walker celebrated her 100th birthday this week and received a card from the Queen too. NNL-171101-074319009

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‘Being natural’ is the secret to long life, so says a Kenilworth woman who celebrated her 100th birthday yesterday (Tuesday January 10).

Grace Walker of Woodland Road is set to celebrate the occasion with her two surviving sons, two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren on Saturday January 14.

She moved to Kenilworth around 35 years ago with her second husband John Walker, now deceased.

Grace said she and John loved living in the town.

She said: “I love Kenilworth. I only moved here because John’s family lived in Solihull. We picked a road on a map and found Kenilworth.

“It’s the nicest place I’ve ever lived. It’s got this genteel, old-country charm feeling about it and it’s never deteriorated.

“I think it’s beautiful. I can’t get out a lot any more because of my age but I’ve had a lovely life here.

Grace was born in Northumberland in 1917, and described her childhood as a happy one.

She said: “We didn’t have a lot really. But when I look back I think those times were better than now.

“Everybody was more together and everybody cared about each other back then.”

After leaving school Grace began working as a secretary for an engineering firm near Newcastle, and she soon married her first husband Nathaniel Simpson when she was 19 and he was 21.

Once she married him, Grace left her job as it was expected for women to stop working after marriage in the 1930s.

She and Nathaniel had three sons together, Geoffrey, Antony and Nicholas.

But tragedy was to befall the family when Nathaniel died at the age of 45 in 1960.

Grace later met her second husband John Walker, who she was married to for 40 years until John died at the age of 95.

A further tragedy affected the family when Geoffrey died from cancer at the age of 72.

Despite these hardships, Grace carried on and has stayed in Woodland Road, refusing to live in a care home.

When asked what the secret to reaching 100 was, Grace said: “Just being natural and getting on with it really. I’m glad I still live in my house rather than a care home.”

Her youngest son Nicholas, who also lives in Kenilworth, often visits Grace to look after her in her home.

He said: “She’s not able to get out any more, but she’s still very bright in her mind.

“We’re all looking forward to Saturday and she’s looking forward to seeing everybody. It will be stimulating for her because she doesn’t get to see everyone that often.”