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Centenarian Joan celebrates 100 remarkable years – ‘Don’t Drink, Don’t Smoke, and Join a Choir!’

7 September 2023

Centenarian Joan celebrates 100 remarkable years – ‘Don’t Drink, Don’t Smoke, and Join a Choir!’

Recently, at Admiral Court Care Home in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, there was a joyous celebration as Joan Plant marked her 100th birthday! Surrounded by family and friends, Joan relished a special champagne high tea at the care home. What made the day even more remarkable was a surprise visit from dignitaries, including the Mayor of Southend, Cllr Stephen Habermel, Constituent Assistant Julie Cushion, and Patrick Abrahams, the Standard Bearer from Hockley British Legion.

Born in Hartlepool on September 5, 1923, Joan spent her early years there until the outbreak of World War II in 1939. In 1940, Joan and her mother experienced a harrowing incident when their train was strafed by German aircraft, miraculously surviving the attack. In 1942, Joan’s life took a new direction when she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF).

Within the ranks of the WAAF, Joan took on the vital role of a Radar Operator, a responsibility she kept hidden, even from her mother. Beyond her official duties, she selflessly volunteered with the Royal Navy, contributing to the planning of troop movements critical to the success of the D-Day Landings in France. Joan’s exceptional contributions played a pivotal role in hastening the war’s conclusion, earning her esteemed recognition from the French Government. In 2019, she received the prestigious Légion d’Honneur, the highest French order of merit, a lasting tribute to her invaluable role in the liberation of France during World War II.

During the war, Joan’s met her late husband, Albert, at a dance hall. Albert, a Royal Marine, and Joan married in 1947, and together, they raised a family of four children—two boys and two girls.

Adding to the celebration, Joan shared her secret to longevity, saying, “Don’t drink, don’t smoke, and join a choir!” She expressed her delight, exclaiming, “Well, I wasn’t expecting all that! What a lovely day I have had – with all my family in the sunshine. I have really enjoyed my birthday (I don’t usually celebrate them because they always go wrong!).”

“This is the best birthday ever,” Joan continued, praising Admiral Court for a wonderful spread, including her favourite rock cakes and a boiled fruit cake as requested. The day was filled with cherished old tunes, and Joan’s family joined in the festivities with dance and merriment. Joan also received a card from the king to celebrate the momentous day.

The Mayor of the City of Southend on Sea, Cllr Stephen Habermel, honoured the occasion with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, and Patrick Abrahams, a retired service man and Standard Bearer, expressed his pride and pleasure in wishing Joan a happy birthday on behalf of the Hockley British Legion.

Adding to the festivities, Constituency Assistant Julie Cushion, representing Conservative MP for Southend West, Anna Firth, presented Joan with a ‘Houses of Parliament’ box of chocolates, sharing in the celebration’s joy.

All the guests marvelled at Joan’s excellent health and positive outlook. Lifestyle Lead, Sarah Savidge, remarked, “A whole home team effort went into providing an extra special day to an extra special lady. Joan teaches us to count our blessings, keep active, and get out in the fresh air as much as possible. Joan is incredible, she is an inspiration to us all, and we are all so proud of her and glad to support her to live her best life at Admiral Court.” Joan’s century of life is a testament to her resilience and vibrant spirit, inspiring those around her to embrace the beauty of each day.