Is this Coventry's oldest resident? Meet 108-year-old keen dancer Edith Smith - The Coventry Observer

9th Aug, 2022

Is this Coventry's oldest resident? Meet 108-year-old keen dancer Edith Smith

IS this Coventry’s oldest resident? Meet 108-year-old Edith Smith.

Since her date of birth in 1909, the world has hosted many iconic moments – the sinking of Titanic, two world wars, celebrations of the first man to land on the moon, and the transformation in modern technology.

And on Wednesday (April 5) – Edith’s 108th day of birthday celebrations – the Coventry resident reflected on her life from the ‘good old days’ to the turn of the millennium.

Born in Bradford to parents Louisa and Harry Laylock, Edith lived independently until she was 104 before moving into Lammas House Residential Care Home.

She moved to Coventry with her first husband Harold and has lived in the city for most of her life.

And it seems the secret to Edith’s long and successful life has been staying positive and enjoying every day.

“Loving life, being happy, working hard, looking after family and a few gin and tonics along the way is the secret to living a healthy and successful life,” said Edith.

“I feel very proud to have reached such a great age.”

After losing her father at an early age, Edith and her mother spent World War I with Belgium refugees – who paid rent to shelter in their home and taught the 108-year-old French.

Throughout World War II, Harold was an engineer in a reserved occupation and was responsible for looking out for fires started in the city when bombs were dropped by enemy aircraft.

Harold’s commitments left Edith at home looking after their son Roger, who was just a baby at the time of the outbreak.

Without an air raid shelter in their home, Edith chose not to use the communal shelter in the street and would instead shield Roger during the bomb blasts by hiding under the dining room table.

Following the severe bombing of Coventry in November 1940, when the city was annihilated by German Luftwaffe, Edith and thousands of others escaped from the city.

Edith and Roger soon moved to a farm in Leicestershire to get away from the danger of the raids, where they lived for several years.

After the war Edith lost her husband, who died of lung cancer at the age of 55.

With a pension of just 50 pence per week, she had to work as a book keeper for a Coventry company to make ends meet.

She sadly lost her son when he had a brain hemorrhage at the age of 35.

But Edith found love again when she met her second husband Harry at a dance hall. Though he later passed away in 1986.

The birthday girl’s family has since blossomed into four generations with grandsons James and John and great grandchildren Freya and Beth.

Throughout her life Edith’s passion has been dancing and this was a hobby which she enjoyed until she was well into her 90s. Her love of dancing and music was in spirit for her 108th birthday bash too with live musician Beth Berrick Lowe performing a range of hits from the 30s, 40s and 50s – which was followed by a mouth-watering birthday cake.

Rukmi Silva, home manager at Lammas House, said: “Edith is a real lady – she has so much grace and elegance and is always immaculately presented, taking great pride in her appearance.

“She is inspirational and we are enormously proud to have Edith here.”

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