Julia Gilbert celebrated her 107th birthday last month on Friday 25th September. She had a wonderful time marking this momentous occasion with the Mayor of Redbridge, Cllr Barbara White, family, friends, fellow residents, volunteers and staff at Jewish Care’s Vi & John Rubens House in Gants Hill, where she has lived since 2012 when she moved there from sheltered accommodation next door the home.
As well as her granddaughter, Jacqueline Rogers from Banbury, Oxfordshire, and nephew, Alan Mehaldo from Great Yarmouth, friends from the local community who met Julia when she was a member of Jewish Care’s Redbridge Community Centre, also came to wish her well. Julia was delighted to receive cards from Her Majesty The Queen, David Cameron and the Mayor of London Boris Johnson.
One of the oldest people living in Redbridge, Julia was born in 1908 in Spitalfieds, and having lived through two World Wars, Julia is in good health. Julia, married her husband, Sidney aged 23 and they had two sons, who both live in Australia and Julia now has nine grandchildren and several great-grandchildren. Julia was forced to leave London during the blitz before returning at the end of the war. Sadly her husband, Sidney died just before the end of WWII. After the war, Julia relocated to Stoke Newington, and worked in a stationary shop in Dalston. She retired and volunteered at Jewish Care in Stepney Community Centre 25 years ago working with older people. She says, “I absolutely loved it and think more people should volunteer and visit people in the homes and community centres.”
Resisting the temptation to move to Australia to be with her sons, Julia lived on her own in sheltered accommodation until the age of 104, when she moved to Vi & John Rubens House.
Her birthday party was organised by granddaughter, Jacqueline together with staff at the home. Jacqueline said, “It was a fantastic day with family and friends – a day her to enjoy. The staff at the Jewish Care home are brilliant and it’s been really important for Julia to be at Vi & John Rubens House in the community where she’s lived and is well known for so many years.”
Julia’s secret for a long life is…”Work hard and respect people.”