A LEAP year baby and avid Oxford Mail reader is celebrating her 23rd birthday today – but she's really 92.

Elsie Smith of Cropredy, near Banbury, loves having her February 29 birthday as it makes her feel special.

She said: “I feel so special that I can celebrate my birthday each year, but every fourth year I have an extra special one. Others can only have special ones occasionally like when they turn 21 or when they’ve got a zero on the end, but I’ve celebrated two 21st birthdays.

“I wonder if I’ll make the real big one, 25 (100).”

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Mrs Smith was born in Wardington and has lived in Cropredy since her marriage to her late husband Malcolm at St Mary’s Church in 1947.

After his death, she met rekindled her relationship with her childhood sweetheart Stan, and they spent many cherished years together until his death in 2011.

She has three children, two of which – Raymond and David – recently passed away, and Sylvia Low.

Oxford Mail:

Mrs Smith, who worked for many years on the production lines at food and coffee factory General Foods (now called Mondelez International) in Banbury, has four grandchildren, Matthew – who lives in Canada – Rebecca, Sarah and Joseph.

She now also has four great grandchildren, Ayla, Lawrence, Roberta and Bethany.

When asked about how she felt turning the grand age of 92, she said: “I feel the same age as when I was 19 or 20. I feel no different but I've just got a few more aches and pains.”

Mrs Smith’s three siblings were also born on 'special' days.

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One was born on April Fool’s, one on Easter Monday and one on the longest day of the year.

Her family have always tried to make her birthdays memorable and on one occasion she was treated to being in the audience of a popular TV show.

Her daughter Ms Low said: “Elsie loves hearing from people and receiving cards. Being a leap year baby makes her feel so special. She doesn’t know anybody else personally who has the same birthday.

“Celebrating her real birthday has always been a very important day for her usually with family and the all important birthday cake.

“For her 90th birthday (not a leap year) we celebrated with friends and family with a beautiful surprise cream tea in the village hall including a quiz session and a raffle which are two of the things she really enjoys.

“Last year I took her to Manchester to be in the audience of Countdown, one of her favourite programs, and she was presented with a treasured signed mug by the hosts – a real special moment for her.”

Mrs Smith, who loves getting stuck into quizzes and crosswords, has read the Oxford Mail for more than half a century since she was given a free copy in the late 1950s.

Oxford Mail:

Her daughter says she likes to know what is going on, who has done what and keeping up with all the latest news.

As well as having worked at General Foods, which she says she loved, she also spent a period of time waitressing at the Red Lion pub in Cropredy where she has many fond memories.

She has many hobbies being a member of the local Women's Institute and goes to short mat bowls in the village and local history group meetings.

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Ms Low added: "Cooking cakes and making many people a Christmas pudding is one of her most generous hobbies which she really enjoys too.

"For many years she went on numerous coach tours with her partner Stan and if asked where she has visited, her answer was yes and she will give you the date and usually produce a postcard from there or a tea towel."