Free spirit turns 100 amid crowds of friends and supporters in Golders Green
17:19 30 March 2012
More than 60 friends and family, some from America, gathered to celebrate a woman’s 100th birthday in Golders Green.
South African-born Lily Osrin has lived in Magnolia Court Care Home in Granville Road for eight years, after 13 years living in West Hampstead.
She was a dedicated member of West Hampstead Synagogue, an avid theatre-goer and swam in Swiss Cottage pool until she was 92.
Born in Oudshoorn in the Garden Route of South Africa, Lily’s brothers farmed ostriches and she became a nature lover and free spirit.
She was ahead of her time in many respects.
She was one of the first women to study psychology at Cape Town University, and then opened a children’s nursery in Johannesburg with two friends.
She later ran the first ever self-service grocery store in Stellenbosch with her husband.
Nahum Osrin, known as Sherry, was the love of Lily’s life and they married and moved back to his home town in South Africa’s wine region where they enjoyed a happy outdoor life, bringing up their three children.
“She was loved by all and was quite an iconic character in our small town,” said her daughter, Vivien Osrin, 59, who now lives in Finchley.
“She didn’t mind a good argument and would defend anyone she thought was being badly treated or scapegoated. She loved animals and we always had an assortment of dogs and cats, who made our home their own.”
Her husband died at the age of 56, which left Lily devastated, but she remained “incredibly strong” and continued to be a fantastic mother and a host to her children and grandchildren.
Lily remained in South Africa after the younger generation left in 1979 but moved to London after the death of her sister 10 years later, and immediately made West Hampstead her home.
“She loved walking and concerts and theatre, and really was incredibly resilient and adaptable,” said her daughter.
In recent years Lily, whose parents fled anti-Jewish pogroms in Lithuania to settle in South Africa, has had health problems including bowel cancer, a broken hip and the onset of dementia.
On Saturday more than 60 friends and family, including two cousins from America and four generations of nephews and nieces, visited her care home to celebrate her amazing milestone.
Among those toasting Lily’s 100th year were her two sons: Ivan Osrin, 74, a doctor who practices in West Hampstead, and Neville Osrin, 67, a consultant psychologist who lives in Pinner.