Hard work is the secret to 103-year-old Doris’ long life

Doris Posnett celebrates her 103rd birthday with her family at Austhorpe House at Forncett St Peter.

Doris Posnett celebrates her 103rd birthday with her family at Austhorpe House at Forncett St Peter. From left, front row, great grandsons, Ben, 25, and Max Posnett, 14; granddaughter in law, Jan Posnett; and great granddaughter, Abi Baxter, 14. Back row, granddaughter Susan Baxter; great granddaughter Jessica Baxter, 17; grandson David Posnett; and son Bill Posnett. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: copyright: Archant 2014

She was born at a time when people had to travel by foot and entertain themselves by playing the piano, because the idea of watching television - let alone surfing the internet - was a mere distant fantasy.

Yet the family of Doris Posnett believe a life spent toiling in the fields and streets of Norfolk as a farm-worker and milk lady has been the secret to her long and successful life - and the reason why she has this week been able to celebrate her 103rd birthday.

The young Mrs Posnett was born in Harleston in 1911, when women still did not have the vote and an amazing new technology was just catching on - radio.

At the time one of people's main ways to relax was playing the piano, so she spent one of her only few periods away from Nelson's County to study at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

She returned with ambitions of teaching but discovered an up and coming new form of entertainment, namely the television, had taken away demand traditional recreational activities.

However son Bill Posnett explained: 'She was very adaptable to the changing aspects of her life.

'She didn't grumble about the fact she couldn't teach music and had to take a more mundane job. She just got on with it.'

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After realising that times were changing, Mrs Posnett worked in a greengrocers.

She showed what a crucial role women played in the Second World War by driving ambulances behind English lines in France and returned to Norfolk, becoming a church organist.

It was there that she met her husband Norman, the church's vicar, with the pair getting married in 1952.

But their marriage and Mr Posnett Snr's divorce meant he had to leave the role and the family quickly had to find a new way of making a living.

So they took up the local milk round and became well-known over the next 14 years for delivering to homes between Mulbarton and Bunwell.

It was a tough life - in those days people could not just pop down to the supermarket for a pint, so relied on regular deliveries.

Mrs Posnett and her family started work every day at 4am and would be lucky to finish by noon, with a mass of paperwork to complete afterwards.

They worked seven days per week, with their only day off each year coming on Christmas Day.

After finishing the milk round, Mrs Posnett showed no desire to put her feet up.

Living in Norwich Road, Tacolneston, she would cycle every day to work at a nearby chicken farm until she was between 75 and 80 years old.

She continued to go swimming twice a week until the year 2000 and carried on doing her washing using an old-fashioned twin tub - because that was the way she had always done it.

A fall a couple of years ago meant the great-grandmother of four was moved from her home to the nearby Austhorpe House Nursing Home.

Staff there put on a big party with entertainers to mark her 103rd year.

'It is an outdoor, hard life that means you live longer,' Mr Posnett Jnr said. 'She is Norfolk through-and-through and the open air life did her good.'

Do you know someone who is celebrated a special anniversary? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk