Portsmouth centenarian celebrates ’25th’ birthday on leap year



Doris CleifeImage copyright
Andrew Matthews

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As she was born on 29 February, this is only the 25th time Doris Cleife has celebrated on her actual birthday

A party is being thrown for a woman born 100 years ago who has only had an actual birthday every four years.

Doris Cleife will hit the milestone on Leap Day – 29 February – which is only the 25th time she has been able to celebrate on her actual birthday.

Her family and staff at her Portsmouth housing complex were organising a surprise party on Friday.

The great-great-grandmother said she had “waited all my life to be famous and now it happens like this”.

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Doris Cleife

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Mrs Cleife worked as a hairdresser in Portsmouth for more than 20 years until she retired

Mrs Cleife, who worked as a hairdresser for 20 years, said: “I just take it as it comes, I can’t do much about it.

“I never dreamed I would get this far, I lost my mother when she was quite young and my granny died when she was 47 but here we are, and I have a sister who is 98. I don’t feel any different.”

She added: “To be honest, I am feeling quite philosophical about becoming 100, but I am looking forward to spending time with my new friends and my family.”

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Doris Cleife

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Mrs Cleife says part of the secret to a long and healthy life is eating well and walking

Mrs Cleife said the secret to her long life was eating well and her favourite food to celebrate her birthday would be biscuits and pate.

She added her love of walking had helped and she missed her Sunday strolls along the seafront in Portsmouth.

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Doris Cleife

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Mrs Cleife said she had always worked hard and “never took a bus somewhere if I could walk”

Mrs Cleife, whose husband Sam died in 1979, moved into her independent accommodation run by not-for-profit Housing 21 last year having lived with her daughter and son-in-law for the past 40 years until her daughter died in May.

Doris’ granddaughter Rachel Bowen said: “We are so proud of Nan and she is thrilled to be celebrating such a significant milestone with her friends and family.

“Last year was very hard but we want to celebrate this amazing day and an amazing woman.

“She has been pulling our legs for months now saying she can’t wait until her 25th birthday.”

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Andrew Matthews

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A surprise party is being held by Mrs Cleife’s family and staff at her retirement home to mark the special occasion

Mrs Cleife has two grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.



BBC News

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