Julia Gilbert, who lives at Jewish Care’s Vi & John Rubens House Gants Hill, received a visit from the Mayor and Mayoress of Redbridge, Cllr Ashley Kissin and Hilary Kissin to celebrate her 106th birthday which was on Thursday 25th September. The Mayor presented her with the annual birthday card from the Queen which she has received for the past seven years since reaching her century. Julia moved from her sheltered accommodation next door to the Jewish Care home eighteen months ago.
Julia said, “ I was overwhelmed by my visit from the Mayor and Mayoress of Redbridge, I couldn’t believe they’d come to see me.”
Joining her for the celebration were her two grand-daughters, Belinda and Elaine Gilbert who live in London, together with her good friends from the home Freda Levy and Hetty Tauber along with the staff including Mary O’Rourke who is the Home Manager who enjoyed marking the occasion with Julia, “She’s fantastic”, says Mary, “She’s so full of energy. Her mind is completely alert and she would give any one of us a run for our money when it comes to current affairs.”
Born in 1908, Julia grew up in the East End of London, living in Stoke Newington and worked as a sales person in a stationery shop in Dalston. She was married for 12 years to Sydney Gilbert who died aged 33 in the Second World War. Julia says, “My happiest day was my wedding day.” Sydney left behind two sons who were just 11 and eight months old at the time and both live in Australia today. She now has nine grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.
Her favourite hobby was dancing and she would often visit dance hall People’s Palace in Mile End. After she retired she volunteered at Jewish Care in Stepney Community Centre 25 years ago working with older people and Julia believes “more young people should volunteer and visit homes and community centres, it’s very important.” Finally, what’s Julia’s secret to long life? “Hard work and respect for people.”