A century of memories for Flo - and all from one place

100 celebrations for Flo James and her son Neville
100 celebrations for Flo James and her son Neville

A lady who has lived all but a few years of her life in the same Lincolnshire village celebrated her 100th birthday this week.

Florence James, nee Fox, was born in Normanby by Spital on November 4, 1913 and is now living in her ninth house in the village.

The house she was born in was knocked down some years ago, as have many of her former residences.

And Flo, as she likes to be known, has seen a great deal of other changes over the last century.

Flo was the youngest of the 12 Fox children.

Her father was a horse dealer and she recalls travelling to Market Rasen and Lincoln by pony and cart.

Homes were lit by candles and later by paraffin lamps - then, of course, electricity arrived.

And Flo still chuckles about the time her husband Cyril came home and lit the tilly lamps, as he always did, only for Flo to switch on the electric light just as he was going to hang them up; he had forgotten the house had been wired up for electricity.

Having lived in Normanby for almost all of her 100 years, apart from a couple of years spent in a village near by, Flo is a well-known member of the community.

She attended the village school - as did her three sons and one daughter - and later worked there as the school cook.

And, together with husband Cyril, ran the Cross Keys pub in the village.

“I enjoyed being at the Cross Keys,” said Flo.

“It was a very popular pub and there were lots of people from the wireless station (at Normanby Cliff) drinking there.”

And Flo also recalled many other regulars - but remains discreet about any embarrassing moments that may have occurred.

The pub closed not long after the couple retired as landlords and it has since been converted into three flats.

Cyril died in his late 60s.

Until she was 96, Flo lived with her daughter, then moved in with her son Neville and his wife Shirley. Flo’s other surviving son, Tony, lives just next door.

And Flo also has four grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren, many of whom visited for her birthday.

The day itself was spent as a time for family and friends to drop in, as Flo did not want a party.

“I have never had one and am not going to start now,” she said.

However, Flo did receive a surprise e-mail from a cousin in Australia to add to the occasion and, of course, a card from the Her Majesty The Queen to mark the occasion.

And Flo’s special event will also be marked in the village, where the parish council is looking to plant a tree in her honour.

The choice of the type 
of tree was given to Flo and 
she has opted for a Christmas tree.

But the last word must go to Flo on how to live to such an age - “Work hard and enjoy life.”

Let that be a lesson to us