Westminster council tenant turns 100

A Pimlico woman thought to have the longest council tenancy in London turned 100 on 1 August.

Ellen Murphy, originally from Galway, Ireland, celebrated her centenary with family, friends and neighbours at an afternoon tea party at Dryburgh Hall on Abbots Manor estate in Pimlico.

Having moved into her first council home in Winchester Street in 1957, Mrs Murphy has been a Westminster City Council tenant for 56 years – a period thought to be the longest for a council tenancy in London.

The former waitress was joined by sons Bart, 72, Michael, 69, Ted, 67, Thomas, 62 and daughter Margaret, 60, for the birthday celebrations which were arranged by local CityWest Homes estate manager Jennifer Dunrod.

Speaking about her birthday celebrations, Ellen said: “I never expected any of this at all. My daughter Margaret took me to the hairdressers earlier and when we were walking back, past the hall, she said we should drop in and see what’s going on.

“I didn’t know that everyone would be here. I’m very surprised. They never phoned me or anything!”

Jennifer Dunrod, housing manager at CityWest Homes, said: “We had the cake made especially and the baker has used a few things to decorate it that Mrs Murphy is particularly fond of, such as the picture of Fred Astaire and the stairlift which she uses.

“We are all so very fond of her. She is just such a lovely lady. I just can’t believe that she is 100 as she certainly doesn’t look it.”

Ellen then told of how she felt unfazed by reaching the century mark. She said: “It doesn’t worry me one bit. It doesn’t really feel any different to any other day. I never worried about age, I never thought things like this (turning 100) could happen at all.”

So what is Ellen’s secret to a long, happy and healthy life?

“Hard work” she says. “I’ve always worked hard in my life and stayed a very healthy woman. But maybe there’s something in the family also. My sister is a good age, she lives up in Birmingham and is 90 now.”

Friends and family sang happy birthday to the 100-year-old who then thanked those who had organised and attended the celebrations. She said: “I want to thank you all so very much, you have made me very happy. I think this is the happiest day of my life.”

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