Great-grandmother to celebrate her 25th birthday on Leap Day

A great-great grandmother is celebrating her 25th actual birthday on Leap Day this weekend.

Doris Cleife will turn 100 on Saturday, February 29, but this year will only be her 25th opportunity to celebrate on her day of birth.

Staff at Brunel Court in Portsmouth, Hampshire, run by extra-care provider Housing 21 where Mrs Cleife lives, will be throwing a surprise party for her on Friday before her family celebrate with her on the 29th.

Mrs Cleife told the PA news agency: “I just take it as it comes, I can’t do much about it.

“I honestly don’t know, I think to myself, 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.”

When asked how it feels to only have had 25 birthdays, she said: “I don’t feel any different.

“I’ve waited all my life to be famous and now it happens like this.

“I wouldn’t want all the fuss but the family have been talking about it for goodness how long, and I had a letter from one of my great grandchildren who was seven, he said at the end of the letter ‘Does the Queen know your address?’.”

She added: “I am waiting for my letter from the Queen.

“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.”

Doris Cleife, who is preparing to turn 100 years old on February 29, though it is only the 25th time Doris has been able to celebrate her birthday due to being born during a leap year
Doris Cleife when she was younger (Family Handout/PA)

Mrs Cleife, who was a hairdresser for 20 years, said the secret to her longevity was eating well and walking whenever she could.

She said: “I have always worked hard, but I did a lot of walking, and I think walking is good for you, it keeps you fit, well at least it did me.

“I think walking is very good, you don’t need to run, you don’t need to do anything, just walk, especially along the seafront, from one pier to the next, I used to go every Sunday and do that and I never took a bus if I could walk somewhere.

“I like walking, I wish I could do it now.”

She said her favourite food to celebrate her birthday would be biscuits and pate.

Great-great grandmother Doris Cleife who is preparing to turn 100 years old on February 29, though it is only the 25th time Doris has been able to celebrate her birthday due to being born during a leap year
Mrs Cleife was born during a leap year (Family Handout/PA)

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.

“Nan puts her long life down to living with my mum for so long and being surrounded by grandchildren, great-grandchildren and now great-great grandchildren.

Doris blows out candles showing the number 25 on a birthday cake in her flat in Portsmouth (Andrew Matthews/PA)

“She loves playing with the kids, they keep her young at heart, and only recently she’s built amazing shops out of cardboard boxes with the little ones.”

She added: “I would say it’s also down to good genes, my great auntie Edna, Doris’ sister, is 98 in April.”

Katrina Morgan, housing manager at Brunel Court, said: “Doris has settled in so well and we are delighted that we are able to share such a special moment with her and her friends here.

“We know that family means so much to Doris – she has two grandchildren, Rachel and David, three great grandchildren Kirsty, Sammy and Isla and two great-great grandchildren Tilly and Thea.”

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