Esther, 109, is queen for the day at Stanmore home


It was nothing new for Esther Sachon to receive a birthday card from the Queen. She now has six, one for her 100th birthday and then another each year since she turned 105. The 109-year-old Jewish Care resident is believed to be the UK's 34th oldest person.

Mrs Sachon celebrated her birthday at a Purim party with staff, volunteers and fellow residents at the Princess Alexandra home in Stanmore, where she has lived for the past six years. There was also a tea with family members. "My daughter Helena [Freeman] keeps me young," she said.

A Purim baby, Esther was an obvious choice of name. She grew up in the East End and remembers getting fresh milk from a neighbour who owned a cow.

She met her husband Louis at a Jewish dance when she was 17 and they married three years later. They had two sons and Helena, who was five when Mr Sachon died in 1951. Widowed at a young age, Mrs Sachon took on the responsibility of breadwinner. "Mum started as a dressmaker," Mrs Freeman explained. "She had to work hard after dad died. She worked for Wallis [in Oxford Street] for 30 years. She was a great cook, kept a great home, looked after us very well and only knew about doing things for other people.

"She didn't retire until she was well into in her 70s. No one had a clue how old she was because she looked so young."

Mrs Sachon continues to take great pride in her appearance. "She gets her nails and hair done every week and she notices everything. If I've got a new scarf for example, she always comments on that."

As well as enjoying visits from family - she has five grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren - Mrs Sachon plays cards regularly.

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