Britain’s oldest volunteer has celebrated her 100th birthday.
“I certainly don’t feel it,” says Beryl Carr who still manages to come into the Friends Café in Ealing Hospital once a month.
It has been a tough couple of years for the plucky centenarian who began volunteering after her husband passed away and she moved back to London to be near her daughter in the early noughties.
“I grew up in Ealing but was lonely when I came back. I moved from a lovely bungalow in the country to a one bedroom flat. It felt like living in a box so my daughter suggested volunteering. It was the best thing I could have done.”
Beryl started working in the Friends Café as a sprightly 80 year-old in 2003 preparing food and working on the till.
“I’ve made a fair few sandwiches in my time but I really enjoy the social side of it. I can’t think of anything worse than being stuck in front of the TV all day.
“The great thing about volunteering is that you are helping other people but in funny way you are helping yourself as well.”
Beryl was born in 1922 when George V was on the throne, Gandhi was imprisoned for opposing British rule in India, and archaeologist Howard Carter unearthed Tutankhamun’s tomb.
She survived the Blitz during World War Two which included being bombed out of her home and helped the war effort by sewing barrage balloons and working as a fire watcher as German bombs fell on the capital.
“We spent a lot of time in the bomb shelter in our back garden and one of the nights we chanced sleeping inside there was an air raid and the house was hit. I ended up under a cupboard covered in plaster.”
Beryl’s friends at the café laid on a special treat for her 100th birthday including a cake but she still found time to fit in a bit of work promoting a charity raffle.
“Volunteering gave me a new lease on life and it is something I would recommend to anyone regardless of their age.”
Daughter Val, pictured above with her mum said: “She’s so full of beans I have to tell her to slow down sometimes.”