Centenarian from Salisbury to celebrate 111th birthday

HAVING a positive mental attitude and finding a hobby are just some of a supercentenarian’s secrets to longevity, as she turns 111-years-old this month.

Ethel Caterham, known as ‘Ganga’ to friends and family, will be reaching the milestone age on August 21.

The second youngest of eight children, Ethel was born in 1909 in Shipton Bellinger and grew up in Tidworth.

She has memories of walking into Salisbury with her siblings to go to the cinema.

In 1927, when Ethel was 18-years-old, she landed her first job as a nanny to a British family in India. She travelled alone for three weeks by ship to India as the “thought of excitement and world travel” was too alluring.

“I have very fond memories of my time in India, British life there was very privileged,” she said.

Ethel added: “We were waited on by servants and we kept both British traditions like Christmas and Indian traditions like Tiffin and Tea.

“It was not very common in my area for young women to head off to India but my parents were excited for me at the thought of this amazing experience.”

Ethel was employed as a nanny for four years, both in India and the UK, before she met her future husband Norman, a major in the British Army, at a dinner party in 1931.

The couple married in Salisbury Cathedral as Norman was a choirboy there, and together they lived in Harnham before they were stationed in Hong Kong and Gibraltar.

While living in Hong Kong, Ethel started a nursery for local and British children where she taught English, games and crafts.

It was in Gibraltar where Ethel and Norman started their family, eventually raising two girls back in the UK in the Surrey area, where she has lived for more than 50 years.

On the ‘Oldest in Britain’ website, Ethel is currently listed as the eighth oldest person, and to mark the occasion she is expecting an eighth telegram from the Queen.

When asked about the world’s biggest advancements or changes during her life, Ethel said: “It surprises me how romance has died and there is so much emphasis on sexual relations with youngsters”, as during her youth there was courting and dances.

Talking about the key to a long life, Ethel added: “Say yes to every opportunity because you never know what it will lead to. Have a positive mental attitude and have everything in moderation.

“Find a hobby you love and make friends through it.”

Salisbury Journal | News