SYLVIA Ritchie will be celebrating her 100th birthday today with family and friends, including some who have travelled from South America and Oman.

Mrs Ritchie was born in 1914, seven months before the outbreak of the First World War, in which two of her half brothers fought.

With 11 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren, Mrs Ritchie, of Diamond Court, Banbury Road, Summertown, will mark the big day with a dance party.

Born in Bristol, the daughter of a brewery manager, she lived in Charlbury during the 1980s, moving to Oxford 15 years ago.

She said: “My earliest memory is of being pushed in a pram by my nurse during the First World War.

“Two of my half brothers were in the First World War. I remember riding on the shoulders of one of them, in his army uniform, with the leather strap worn by officers.

“My mother worked as a VAD (volunteer nurse) in the war, based in Bristol, and I remember her in her uniform, and that’s why I wanted to become a nurse when I left school.

“I remember when there were gas mantles to light up our houses and a man used to come round with a long pole and light the street lamps outside. I also remember when petrol was 1/6d (one shilling and six old pence) which my daughter tells me is about 7p in today’s money.

“My mother was one of the early drivers and she always believed in ‘ladies first’ at crossroads. There wasn’t a driving test in those days.

“My father was born in 1850, which seems a long time ago now. I also remember when the telephone was fixed to the wall and you wound up a handle to speak to someone at the exchange, who put you through to the person you wanted to ring.”

She still enjoys catching up with the local news as well as doing crosswords and watching television quiz shows.

Mrs Ritchie said: “I enjoy keeping busy and getting as much fresh air as I can. When I have to stay in I like doing the crossword – only the quick one though. I also like some television programmes, especially the ones about antiques and quizzes like Eggheads or University Challenge.”

Mrs Ritchie’s granddaughter Esther Fisher said: “Granny has had an amazing 100 years.

“She has lived through two world wars and was a sergeant in the ATS during the Second World War, collecting blood throughout Oxfordshire and driving a two tonne truck to deliver it to the coast for troops.

“She was a volunteer for meals on wheels for elderly people at the age of 82.

“And she is still wonderfully active. Today she will celebrate the day with a ceilidh dance party in the evening, with family and friends, some of whom are coming from away as far as Chile and Oman.”