Kingfishers News

IN THE NEWS: Centenarian Avis celebrates ‘a good life’

KF 100
Avis Neville celebrates her 100th birthday at Colten Care’s Outstanding-rated New Milton care home Kingfishers. Presenting the cake is Healthcare Assistant Ruby Ranches. Standing behind are, from left: Heather Morecombe, a friend of Avis’s, Companionship Team Leader Rose Arcellana and team member Sue Hawkins.

Colten Care’s latest centenarian has celebrated her landmark birthday more than 12 years since she moved to Kingfishers in New Milton.

Avis Neville was the centre of attention as staff at the Outstanding-rated care home presented her with gifts, cards and flowers.

After Happy Birthday was sung, she was presented with a cake specially baked by Kingfishers’ chefs.

When Avis took up residence at the home in June 2009, she completed a ‘life diary’ charting her childhood, career and retirement years.  

Born in Highbury, North London, in September 1921, Avis was four when she moved with her parents, brother and sister to Kent where she recalled the family were able to “enjoy the open spaces”, adding: “My mother always said we were not rich but helped each other and had a good life.”

Avis left school at just 14. After evening classes in typing and shorthand, she took up secretarial work and joined the administrative staff of the upmarket Piccadilly department store Fortnum & Mason.

In the Second World War, Avis served for three years in the Auxiliary Territorial Service, the women’s branch of the Army, gaining promotion to Corporal and Acting Sergeant.

After the war, she decided to further her career at the food and restaurant chain J Lyons and Co.

Working in the outdoor catering section, she supported the company’s presence at major annual events such as the Chelsea Flower Show, Wimbledon tennis championships, the Farnborough Air Show and Royal garden parties.        

“I was working long hours but enjoying it,” Avis wrote in her diary. “There was never a dull moment.”

In her retirement, Avis travelled extensively overseas and indulged her passion for hobbies including embroidery, knitting, crosswords and jigsaws.

Asked about her personal achievements later in life, Avis replied: “I was a Women’s Institute President for nine years, I worked in an Age Concern charity shop and I ran a lunch club for 30 people for five years. I’ve received awards for various things, mostly charity work.”






Rose Arcellana, Kingfishers’ Companionship Team Leader, said: “Avis is a lovely, charming lady who had a wonderful active lifestyle when she was younger. She still always gives you a nice smile when prompted.”

Among Avis’s fellow centenarians at Kingfishers, Merrick Kearsey celebrated his 101st birthday in May while in March Marjorie Nutton and Irene Harris turned 100 and 104 respectively.

Across Colten Care’s 21 homes, this year has seen nine residents reach the age of 104 or more, the eldest being 106.