Happy Birthday to Olive, 109 today

Olive Ashley turns 109 today
Olive Ashley turns 109 today

Congratulations are due to Dunstable’s oldest resident, Olive Ashley, who celebrates her 109th birthday today.

It is a milestone achievement for the keen Salvation Army member, who is just one year away from becoming a supercentenarian.

As well as being the oldest person in Dunstable, Olive is also among the 30 oldest centenarians in the country, all of whom are women.

Unlike previous years, Olive’s family plan to have a low-key celebration at her home at Friary Lodge.

Lucy Astridou, manager at Friday Lodge, said: “Olive is absolutely astounding.

“She puts me to shame when I’m complaining about my aches and pains!

“She’s very aware of everything, has a great memory and she still continues to make her own choices.

“We try to remedy any concerns she might have and we’re very, very happy to have her with us.”

Born in Tottenham on September 16, 1906, Olive has lived through five monarchs and two World Wars.

She has become something of a celebrity in Dunstable, the town she has called home since 1991.

Speaking to the Gazette at her 107th birthday in 2013, she said: “I suppose my secret is never drinking alcohol – not even champagne at weddings.

“I’ve never smoked either, I can’t stand smoke. ”

Olive worked as a florist before retiring in 1969, and also made aircraft parts for two and a half years during the Second World War.

However, her most valued time has been spent with the Church and Salvation Army.

“My whole life has been about God,” she said.

The oldest of seven – with two brothers and foursisters – Olive has also attributed her impressive longevity to a wholesome upbringing and family values.

She said: “As a child we always had regular meals and started the day with a proper breakfast.

“I think television has had an effect these days.”

It seems longevity may well run in the family as Olive’s sister also lived to 103.