It is not every day you have coffee and cakes with one half of the UK’s oldest twins.

But tenants at one of our independent living schemes in Kirkham enjoyed a small party to help Thelma celebrate her 103rd birthday.

She spent her big day with family at Elma’s home in Stockport, followed by a week in London with her son Tony.

Thelma rounded off her celebrations with fellow tenants in the communal lounge, where she was presented with a beautiful bouquet of flowers from our Chief Executive Jacqui De-Rose.

Thelma says: “I do appreciate Progress Housing Group doing this for me. It was very good of them.

“The party in the communal lounge was lovely. I am getting used to all these parties.”

As the UK’s oldest twins, Thelma and her sister Elma have been receiving lots of attention recently, as they were featured on BBC’s North West Tonight, and several online news publications and newspapers. Thelma was also interviewed by Graham Liver on BBC Radio Lancashire.

Thelma, who has another sister, Jean, living in Macclesfield, laughs: “It’s unbelievable really, but it is want people want. I have enjoyed it. It has been very entertaining. My twin says to me ‘who would have thought we would live to be this age?’ We had an aunt who lived to be 105, so we must be catching up.

“As for the secret to living so long? I would say I like my food. But if you asked my sister, she says she likes a drink. She would have a brandy and lemonade at night.”

Thelma and her twin sister Elma were born in Stockport in August 1919 and they got their first job together at the age of 14 – packing and labelling at Smiths Crisps factory.

Thelma recalls: “One day after school, Elma and I walked to the Smiths factory and asked through their window if they had any jobs. A few days later I was working there. I used to scoop salt and put it in blue square packets. I worked my way up and worked there until the Second World War started, when we both got married and had children.”

Thelma married Joseph Barratt when she was 21. They had two children, followed by five grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

They later moved to Blackpool and after Joseph died, she lived on her own for a while, before moving to an independent living scheme in Kirkham two years ago.

She says: “It is lovely here. My flat is so big and roomy. The communal lounge is nice. You can get to it at any time. I can’t get out as much as I would like but I use my wheels and a stick to get out. I don’t do as much as I used to now. I would never sit without knitting or sewing and I loved reading. I could lose myself in a book. Now I mostly watch the ‘Gogglebox.’”

Thelma says she doesn’t get to see Elma much, so was really grateful to her son for arranging to spend time with her, although she admits she would not like to live with her: “I could probably only manage a week. But if we had to, we would make a good go of it.”

Thelma 103 Small

Jacqui says: “I had the pleasure of meeting Thelma to wish her happy birthday, present her with some flowers, and chat about her life.

“What a wonderful lady, she is an absolute star and took the time out of her celebrations to tell me all about her life in Stockport before she moved to Kirkham.

“The highlight was certainly her story about having dancing lessons at lunchtime from the older girls in the crisp factory. She said it was great fun and meant she was able to enjoy the trips to the music hall and make new friends.

“It was touching to hear her stories about the war, the bombs and her family. She said her best memories are about her time as a child and going to school.

“Thelma was wonderful, I absolutely loved meeting her.”

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