On 11th November 1918, the guns fell silent and Europe prepared for peace. Last month, millions observed that anniversary, but here on Lanzarote another centenary took place, as Winifred Huc, who was born in Nottingham on Armistice Day, celebrated her 100th birthday. We went to visit Winifred and her dog Lucky.
Happy birthday, Winifred, and congratulations! Did you have a good day?
I had a big surprise. I was only expecting a glass of wine and a bit of cake, but all of a sudden about 30 people came round to see me. Lots of old friends – one friend’s son even flew over all the way from Sweden. There was a banquet, and my goddaughter Renata brought a lovely dress for me. Even the staff from Las Colinas complex have been round to give me their best wishes. I was up and down answering the phone all day, so I was a bit tired by the end, but it’s been fantastic!
Have you had your telegram from the Queen yet?
You have to apply for it! She can’t be expected to know how old everyone is, so you have to send her your photo and a copy of your birth certificate. I’m an ardent royalist, but I don’t really want her seeing my birth certificate.*
How do you find your health at 100?
I’m a bit deaf, but I’m not daft. I’ve still got it up here (taps head). I’ve had a few health problems recently, but I’m still here – I think St. Peter hasn’t got room for me up there just yet. But I can’t complain – I’ve got a good life and I’ve enjoyed my 100 years.
We journalists always ask centenarians the same question, so can you tell us to what you owe your long life to?
I haven’t a clue! I eat all sorts of things – Indian, Chinese, but nothing special, really. I am surrounded by lovely people, though.
Did you get any good presents?
There were lots of flowers, but I also got a washing machine, a ceiling fan for my room and a gadget for my TV.
What are your most outstanding memories?
Getting married in 1942 to my husband, who was a Polish pilot. Later we were thinking of buying a home on Cyprus but a friend told us to try Lanzarote – I’d never heard of it! But we came for three months and loved the place At this age I find I can remember things from when I was aged 4 perfectly clearly – my nursery school teachers in Nottingham, Miss Long, Miss Green, Miss Prince and Miss Sexton, for example.
How did you end up with Lucky?
He was found by the roadside in Macher and I ended up adopting him. I think I’ve been adopted by a few people, too. Pauline, Joan, Anna and Mark from downstairs, Renata from Santi’s restaurant, who we met on our very first day on the island. They all keep an eye on me.
*Two days after our interview, Winifred’s friends Pauline Dudley and Joan Challonier picked up Winifred’s letter from The Queen at Puerto del Carmen Post Office – another birthday surprise.