St John’s Wood woman celebrates 100th birthday

Family members jet in from around the world to mark the occasion

For the oldest resident of St Marylebone Almshouses, the best things about turning 100 were being among treasured friends and family and receiving the long-awaited card from the Queen.

Ingeborg Unia, who celebrated reaching the landmark age last Friday, has lived in St John’s Wood for more than 60 years. She has spent the last 10 living in the Almshouses on St John’s Wood Terrace.

Born in Kiel, Germany, it was in Berlin where she met the love of her life, Victor, an Englishman. He worked in the Control Commission to run the defeated country after the Second World War. They married in 1948 and moved to St John’s Wood where they had a baby. Victor died 45 years ago.

At her party at the Almshouses, Mrs Unia said she could not believe she had reached 100. “I don’t feel it,” she said. “I’m very happy. I still do my shopping and my cooking and I don’t feel any different.”

The thought of the card from The Queen and seeing her first great-granddaughter, who is due in March, has kept her going, she said.

She puts her good health down to an active lifestyle and a passion for food.

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For her celebrations, she was overjoyed to be joined by three generations of her far-flung family.

Her granddaughter from New Zealand and grandson from Bolivia had travelled from afar while her daughter made the much shorter trip from Hampstead.

Mrs Unia said she had found great happiness and would change nothing about her life. “I have great friends here, I’m very lucky,” she said. “Everything’s beautiful. The staff are so kind and they take good care of us. We go on trips to beautiful places and, sometimes, I’ll go with my daughter for tea in the garden of Kenwood House.”

Westminster deputy Lord Mayor Cllr Cyril Nemeth called in with a card and commemorative plate.

But it was the birthday cake and new widescreen TV from the almshouses trustees that most thrilled Mrs Unia. “It’s a wonderful present,” she said. “I’m looking forward to watching Coronation Street, Emmerdale, listening to the news and seeing what’s going on in the world, and watching tennis.”