A woman has turned 100 with a care home party joined by her big sister – aged 108.
Singer Lil Thomas celebrated her 100th bash thrown for her by staff at the assisted living home where she lives.
But Lil wasn’t the only guest of honour at the party – as she had her older sister, Amy Winifred Hawkin – known as ‘Win’ – by her side, at the age of 108.
Between them, the extraordinary sisters have now received six birthday cards from the Queen – with the collection set to grow next month, when Win turns 109.
Originally from Pillgwenlly in Newport, Wales, performers Lil and Win graced the stage of Newport’s Empire Theatre for many years.
Lil, who said she had a ‘pitch perfect voice at the age of two’, sang, tap danced, and played the accordion, whilst Win was part of a dance troupe, and was known as ‘the highest kicker in Wales’.
Lil told the BBC: ‘I was fortunate to have a pitch perfect voice at the age of two. It was like Katherine Jenkins, but just not trained.’
With the outbreak of World War Two in 1939, as Lil and Win’s six brothers went off to work in the Navy, Lil volunteered to be a bus conductor – and became the first female conductor in Wales.
Speaking to the BBC, she said: ‘Conductresses were needed during the war because of the black out.
‘There were a lot of Irish boys working here who didn’t know where they were going.
‘We had a small lamp on our front which was the only light inside the bus. It was so dark that you had to call out every stop, whether you could see it or not.
‘But we used to have a laugh on the last bus, singing songs with the boys on their way home from the pub.’
After the war, Lil married and moved with her husband Donald, a deputy post master, to South Africa.
However the couple still loved entertaining and travelled the country performing for charities.
The couple returned and Lil took a three-month caretaker job in charge of the Bridge Inn in Luangwa near Usk, Monmouthshire – which turned into a 12-year stay.
She said she was the only publican in the area who would welcome blind people, as others turned them away as they believed visually impaired people would spill their drinks.
It was only when she was well into her 90s that Lil stopped singing.
But even now, living in Willowbrook assisted living home in Bettws, in Newport, she still loves to dance.
Despite having had arthritis for the past few years, Ms Thomas said she hasn’t let that get in the way of enjoying her life and doing as much as she can.
And there’s been plenty of new experiences over the past century. Lil remembers going to McDonald’s for the first time – on her 93rd birthday – and, as the slogan says, lovin’ it.
She said: ‘It’s no good not smiling. I’ve had a life very few have had, and I’ve enjoyed every moment. ‘I’m the luckiest woman in the world.’
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