Packed social diary keeps 99-year-old Grace young

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A drop of sherry, good food and Nivea cream are the secrets to a youthful life, according to Grace Wasik, who is looking forward to her 100th birthday next month.

Grace, who lives at Compass House sheltered housing in Northchurch, is living proof that staying active and having a zest for life can make you live longer.

Her social diary is packed with luncheons organised by the rotary and lions clubs, holidays to Yarmouth, trips to museums and knitting toys and clothes to raise money for The Hospice of St Francis.

As a member of the Happy Wanderers Club, The Stroke Club and the Friday Fellowship, her monthly schedule is busy, yet she never turns down an offer for any fun that she can fit in-between.

She will celebrate her big day with tea at her home with deputy mayor of Berkhamsted Ian Reay on July 8.

She said: “I’m the eldest of all the people who live here and I go out more than any of them. It’s good to use your time and use your brain.

“I do a lot of crosswords to keep my brain active and I don’t keep to a daily routine - I have a meal when it suits me.

“If someone was to invite me out I will say yes, if I’m not already doing something else. I’m spontaneous in many ways.”

Grace cooks herself a meal everyday and is famous among her grandchildren for her rice pudding. She also loves a party and uses Nivea to keep her looking young.

Her attitude to life hasn’t waived in all her years - she says she feels so much younger than she is - and even in her more youthful days she didn’t let social traditions get in her way of fun.

The mother-of-two bucked the trend of her day by leaving it until she was aged in her 40s to get married and have children.

She said: “It didn’t worry me at all because I had a good circle of friends and if I wanted a man’s company it was there.

“I was having a great time. I saw every show that was on in London and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

“I had all the best clothes, which I made and had tailored and by the time I did get married I hardly had any money left.

“Before I met my husband the men I met didn’t appeal to me enough for marriage so I waited for Mr Right and when I met Wladyslaw we married quickly so we could have children, which I had without any complications. I was lucky.”

Grace was born in the East End of London in July 1912 and has lived through two world wars, the Queen’s coronation and witnessed first hand many royal celebrations and technological advancements.

She said: “I remember Zeppelin’s raid during World War One and using the Blackwall Tunnel as an air raid shelter.”

By the Second World War, Grace was working for Sainsbury’s as a cook and head house keeper in the residential homes for its staff.

She said: “I never held back. If I was needed in another branch I didn’t hesitate to go out there during air raids at night. I was never scared. A lot of people were surprised that I wasn’t injured by shrapnel.”

It was during her time working for the supermarket that she met her future husband, a Polish man named Wladyslaw Wasik, who came to work for Sainsbury’s and lived in as a resident.

The couple married in Bedford in 1952 when Grace was 41 years old and moved to a small house on George Street in Berkhamsted.

By the time of the Queen’s coronation Grace was pregnant with her first child Barabara and then two years later had her son Arthur. Wladyslaw sadly passed away in 1972.

She said: “When I look back I think people were happier in the war days. Everyone was so sociable, friendly and helped each other. We didn’t have very much but we didn’t need very much for the way we lived.

“Nowadays it’s my family and grandchildren that give me happiness.”