A FORMER cook at Hythe Primary School has celebrated her 100th birthday.

Sally Bersey, born Sarah Daley, was the eldest of five girls and four boys, and married George Bersey in 1939 in London.

Ten years later she and George moved to Hythe where he joined the team constructing the new Esso Oil Refinery.

Sally took a job cleaning and the couple bought a small cottage in School Road, Hythe in 1951, just before the birth of daughter Dawn in 1952.

Sally got her first full-time job in 1956, joining the catering staff at Hythe Primary School as a dinner lady.

Over the following 20 years she worked her way up to assistant cook and then cook.

Away from the school, she was often recognised by school children who would always say “Hello cook!”

Daughter Dawn joined the school as a pupil, and said her mum was always very popular with the children, which always made her smile.

“Mum was incredibly proud of her job, and the food that came out of that school kitchen was always delicious and fresh.” she recalled.

But Sally did have a problem with one dessert.

“We could never make tapioca nice,” said Sally. “My speciality was spotted dick.”

Sally took a short retirement for two years before taking a job in Fawcitts, Hythe village’s fabric and haberdashery shop.

Again, Sally proved popular with the customers, always smiling and very helpful with curtain measuring and cutting.

In 1993, aged 75, she fully retired, but continued to be well known throughout the village.

After the death of her husband in 1983, just 3 days before his 70th birthday, Sally moved into a granny annex with Dawn and her husband at their home in Langdown Lawn, Hythe, before moving into Little Haven Residential and Nursing Home in Dibden Purlieu.

Said Dawn: “Little Haven became her new home, where she has been loved and outstandingly cared for to date”.

“She calls the staff ‘angels’ and has had such a happy time there, managing to keep her mobility, despite a few further falls.” she said.

Sally celebrated her 100th birthday with an afternoon tea party surrounded by family, friends and Little Haven staff.

“I’m still enjoying a happy and active life,” she said, as she read her card from The Queen. I want to say a big thank you to everyone involved, for giving me such a lovely day, and for making me feel so special.”

Little Haven activities co-ordinator Lucy King, who remembers Sally first arriving at the Home, said: “She’s always been a regular at our various activities, from keep-fit and flower arranging to bingo and giant scrabble.

“We love having her here.

“She always has a smile for staff and visitors alike....even if she’s never met them before.

“She is quite simply amazing!”.