Nan still racing along at the age of 108

An afternoon tea party was held on Sunday, August 1 for Nan (Annie) Dennett who celebrated her 108th birthday at her home in Blandford St Mary five days earlier.

Nearly 50 guests gathered in the Sealy Suite of the Crown Hotel, and enjoyed horse racing games as she is quite a fan of the sport. There was also a singalong with Sam Ryall’s ukulele group.

They included her daughters Jenny and Sandra, her grandchildren and greatgrandchildren, and friends who over the years have joined her at the bingo sessions in the Royal British Legion and worked with her at Help the Aged, where she volunteered until she was 94. Special guests included Mark Woodhouse and his wife Tessa from the Hall & Woodhouse Brewery where Nan’s late husband Ivor worked for many years, and Lynn Lindsay, who as Mayor of Blandford two years ago attended her 106th birthday party and nominated her to attend a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.

The Royal Party to which she received an invitation was cancelled due to the pandemic and postponed until next year, and she said: “I received a letter from Prince Edward telling me he was sorry it had to be cancelled since he and Sophie were due to meet me at Buckingham Palace. But the invitation remains open, and with any luck I’ll be able to attend next year.”

Last year’s 107th birthday had to be celebrated with just her family in the garden at her home, where she still lives independently with help from friends and family.

She enjoys watching The Chase with Bradley Walsh. reading the daily paper and the My Weekly magazine and is very pleased that the New Blackmore Vale Magazine has been revived.

“It’s one of my favourites,” she said.

Originally from Lancashire, Nan was one of ten children and left school at 14 to work in a cotton mill, then in service and later in a Lancaster hospital.

She was only five when the Spanish Flu pandemic hit after the First World War. She met Ivor while serving with the WRVS during the Second World War and they married in February 1944, living first with his family in Charlton Marshall, where she worked at Clayesmore School prior to its relocation to Iwerne Minster, at stores in Blandford, and finally at Clayesmore following its move.

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