JOYCE Harris launched her birthday summer at the weekend, with a birthday lunch in the garden with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren to mark the start of her 100th year.

Mrs Harris, who lives in Lower Bentley, wanted to make the most of her special birthday on June 29, without being overwhelmed by a big party, or missing out on chatting to any of her guests, so the family decided to celebrate with as many people as possible over the course of a summer, adding a note into the family Christmas cards, inviting people to call in with a little advance notice.

She has already enjoyed several visits from family friends, often bringing photographs they want to talk over, and she’s enjoying the one to one chats.

Born on the Isle of Sheppy on the eve of the First World War. Mrs Harris’s father was in the navy.

She said: “I was christened on August 4, the day war was declared. My father was in the navy and was called back to his ship, so my mother was left with two small children, and the christening was full of navy people we never saw again.

“My father was one of the first officers in the air force, so we went abroad a lot. They even recalled him after he retired when the Second World War began. We had a very varied life.”

Mrs Harris settled in Lower Bentley in 1968, with her husband Thomas, a research food chemist from Kings Norton. The couple were married for 64 years until Mr Harris passed away at the age of 94, and they had two children, Jonathan and Susan, with Mrs Harris becoming heavily involved in the local flower club and WI.

She added: “I’ve never been bored in my life. I’m a doer you know. I had that all my life.”

Sadly Susan died in her early 60s from stomach cancer, but Mrs Harris has four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, based in Bromsgrove and Malvern, the eldest of which she was proud to say was travelling to Hereford on his own to attend an interview for a sixth form place.

After 46 years in the area, Mrs Harris is still enthusiastic about her home, and looking forward to enjoying her birthday summer. She said: “I love Tardebigge, and I love Tardebigge Church, and St Mary’s Church in Lower Bentley, and I love Lower Bentley, I love it out here. We’ve got a lovely view out of every window.”