Happy-go-lucky Severn Beach great-grandmother celebrates 100th birthday

Gazette Series: Lily Ranford Lily Ranford

HAPPINESS is the very simple key to long and fulfilling life, according to a self-confessed "glass half-full" great-grandmother, who reached her 100th birthday this week.

Lily Ranford, from Severn Beach, is certainly not one to complain or dwell on the loss and pain she has experienced over the last century.

Instead the grandmother of seven and great-grandmother of nine, who is now a resident at Beech House Care Home in Thornbury, prefers to recall the defining experiences which made her the happy and contented woman she is.

"I've lived a very happy life and I try to keep as happy as I can," she told the Gazette. "Happiness goes a long way. People don't want to see you with a glum face every day, do they?"

Born on August 24, 1913 in Wiltshire, she moved to South Africa with her two sisters when she was just two weeks old.

The family returned to the UK in 1914 at the start of World War One.

When her mother died during the flu epidemic in 1918, the siblings were looked after by various relatives all around the country.

Their father left the army in 1922, when Lily was nine years old, and reunited with his children before moving the family to Filton.

"We started life afresh in Filton," she said. "We just had a very happy childhood."

At 14, Lily left school to take care of the house and soon met her future husband, the very patient George, who would court her for the next seven years before they married.

Lily was 21 and George, a hydraulic engineer, 22.

They had two children, George, who died from a heart attack and Zanita, 78.

"I was 14 and I used to say I'm going to Mrs Norton's, George's friend's mother. I would ride my bicycle down to New Passage and meet him at Mrs Norton's.

"So it was not really telling a lie because I was going to Mrs Norton, but not to see her."

George and Lily moved to Cornwall for ten years before returning to the region and moving to Severn Beach in 1988. Her husband died from cancer three years later.

"I have no regrets," she added. "I am living my life day to day."

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