A WINCHESTER care home resident had an unexpected deluge of good wishes as she celebrated her 100th birthday.

Team members at Colten Care’s St Catherines View nursing home organised the day for Hilary Schoenman knowing that lockdown would prevent a face-to-face party.

They put out an early appeal on social media inviting people in the community to send in birthday cards.

Altogether, 182 cards were received not just from Winchester, or even England, but as far afield as Australia and the United States.

Companionship team member Laura Sheldrake said: “It was incredible. We gathered all the cards as they came into our letter box and kept them together until Hilary’s birthday. "There were so many we had to deliver them to her in batches. It wasn’t only cards, there were gifts too.

"We even had offers to help her celebrate with ballet performances, saxophone playing and choir singing to name but a few.

"Unfortunately, due to lockdown, we couldn’t take those up but we were all overwhelmed by people taking the time to be so generous. The whole idea was to make it an occasion to remember and judging by the response I think we succeeded."

Hilary, who also enjoyed a family tea party via Zoom and a homemade cake, said: “It was just marvellous.”

Gifts on the day included miniature bottles of gin and a gin and tonic-making ‘kit’ from local couple Matthew and Meredith Parris.

When Hilary was born in Cheshire in 1920, the First World War was only two years in the past, women had to be over 30 to vote, and horses were still a significant means of transport.

Her earliest memories are of life by the sea and spending her childhood on the beach and riding horses. In the Second World War, she worked as an ambulance driver.

Asked for her secret of longevity, she said: “You need to live every day as it comes.”