Grimsby woman Alice Skelton's 'simples' way to celebrate 101st birthday
A BIRTHDAY spent with meerkats is not everyone's ideal party but for this 101-year-old it was a wish come true.
Alice Skelton, of Grimsby, celebrated her special day with a trip to The Jungle Zoo, Cleethorpes, surrounded by some of her family.
She was delighted to finally meet her favourite animals up close and even got the chance to feed some.
Alice was born in South Killingholme on June 25, 1911, and true to her routes has never lived away from North East Lincolnshire.
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The mother-of-five believes never smoking or drinking are just two of the reason why she has lived so long.
She says the other reasons for keeping going is her devoted family and the friends she has in Immingham.
For the past 14 years Alice has attended the Bert Boyden Centre in Carver Road, Immingham, where she not only socialises, but enjoys knitting and painting, among other activities.
"I go there every Monday and Tuesday and without it I do not think I would still be here today," she said.
In 1945 Alice married her second husband, George Skelton and they spent a happy 50 years together before he died 18 years ago.
Alice said: "If anyone has a family like I do then they should be very proud.
"They are wonderful to me and the trip to the zoo was all their idea to surprise me.
"I think it has got to be the highlight of my life as I got to sit in a pen with meerkats,which I loved.
"The zoo keeper Craig even gave me a meerkat toy as a birthday present."
One of Alice's grandchildren visits her every Saturday to cook lunch.
Julie Hodson, 44, is proud to say she still has her grandmother around.
She said: "I visit with the great-grandchildren at times so we can sit together and have lunch.
"I think she keeps us all going rather than the other way round.
"The look on her face when she saw the meerkats was priceless. She was not expecting them to be there.
"She just keeps on going and I can't imagine her not being around."
Hannah Hodson, 11, does not know anyone else who has a great-grandma still living.
She said: "A lot of my friends want to meet nanny because she is 101.
"I love her very much and enjoyed spending her birthday at the zoo.
"I think reaching 101 years old is very special."