Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 15.38.58A local lady and former WREN, who served during the Second World War, has turned 100.

Norma Hall celebrated her 100th birthday surrounded by her fellow residents and family who travelled from across the UK and Europe to celebrate at Abbeyvale Care Home, Blackhall.

Norma received a special birthday card from the queen, as well as other lovely presents from her family and the staff at Abbeyvale Care Centre.

Norma has lived in the Blackhall, Hartlepool area for most of her life, where she was born at the beginning of the First World War.

Julie Shield, the manager at Abbeyvale Care Centre said: “It was a lovely day and everyone had a lot of fun. We’re delighted that so many Norma’s family members made it to the home, some of them coming from as far as Switzerland.”

“Their visit really made the day special for Norma. Communication and different activities are very beneficial for residents’ well-being, so we try to make the most of any occasion we have at the home. And, of course, Norma’s centenary was very important, so we’re very glad it all went so well. ”

Norma began training as a seamstress at the age of 14, and began a long and successful career altering wedding gowns, suits and clothes before joining the Women’s Royal Navy Service during the Second World War. She was then stationed at the Grand Hotel in Hartlepool and spent two years recording the British ships that had sunk during battle.

After the war, Norma returned to her career as a seamstress and opened her own business. In 1955, she married Fredrick Simpson, who she was married to for 26 years, becoming step-mother to Aileen.

Norma’s niece, Annette Waites, said: “The staff and residents at Abbeyvale always make sure it is very homely and provide a comfortable and safe environment for those with dementia, like my aunt Norma. Her birthday party was no exception – they made the family and friends feel very welcome.

“It was great to see her so happy and lively. Therefore, I feel very grateful to the amazing Abbeyvale staff for all their hard work with vulnerable residents.”

Norma has always maintained her passions in life, including following her religion, fundraising for a pet charity and participating in various health and fitness activities.

Even after reaching an honourable age of centenary, she still regularly attends the local Church of England every Sunday and takes part at chair exercise classes – you can often see her having a dance to the singers and entertainers which the home welcomes regularly.

Abbeyvale Care Centre cares for 48 residents from the ages of 28 to 104 and is a part of Executive Care group, which runs 25 homes specialising in residential and elderly care.