When asked how it feels to be nearly 106, Annie Atkins smiles and says ‘I can still jump over the moon’.
And that typifies the spirit of the centenarian, who was born and bred in Ixworth and has lived in the village all her life.
Annie, who was born on October 8, 1911, married Claude Atkins in 1937. They had a son, Graham, and now she is grandmother to Karen and Kay, and great-grandmother to Olivia, Cameron, Holly and Callum.
Her memories of the village over the years are so vivid she has given talks to children at the primary school and can remember all the shops no longer in existence.
“Really, truly, Ixworth had such a lot more shops once,” she said. “Down the road, at the bottom of the High Street, my uncle used to make bread and deliver it and there was a hat shop where I used to buy my mother’s hats. Some of the shops I remember were Clarkes, the Co-op, Theobalds, Mr Cousins and Charlie Pearson.”
Annie also remembers travelling to Bury St Edmunds for the Wednesday market on a horse and cart driven by Mr Radford.
She lived in the High Street for many years before moving to a bungalow 23 years ago, where she still lives independently.
She is well known in the village for supporting the Royal British Legion and selling poppies from the age of 17 until she was no longer able. Annie also has fond memories of attending and even opening the village fete, while she was involved in the Over 60s club for many years – and still enjoys the occasional game of bingo there.
Her daughter-in-law Olwyn said: “When she goes down the Over 60s Club now they treat her like a queen.”
During World War Two, Annie worked at Ridleys, in Abbeygate Street, Bury.
“I used to give the rations out and grind coffee,” she said. “It was jolly hard work getting all the tiny rations together. I used to be a bit wicked and give some people something they shouldn’t have.”
Annie also worked at Ixworth Middle School as a dinner lady for many years.
When asked the secret to long life, Annie said her dad told her ‘fill your belly and keep warm, my girl’, while she said a daily breakfast of egg and bread and butter, a round of bread and marmalade and a cup of tea, as well as a drop of brandy in her milk before bed, were also the recipe for good health.
Annie will mark her special day with a meal at the village’s Greyhound pub, which might be followed by a family game of bingo.