FOR most people who reach the age of 100, getting a card from the Queen is one of the highlights of their day.

But Tynedale’s Margaret Bell was more concerned with how Her Majesty knew it was her birthday.

Margaret, who spent most of her life in Haltwhistle but now lives in Close House care home in Hexhamshire, celebrated the milestone on Saturday enjoying some cake while sat amongst the 50 or so birthday cards she received.

Included in her impressive haul was the customary card from the Queen and Margaret said: “I just want to know how she knew!”

Margaret was born in the hamlet of Park Village, in between Haltwhistle and Featherstone.

The oldest of four children, Margaret never married, but still has a large family, with many nieces and nephews, as well as great-nieces and nephews.

The centenarian has faced many challenges in her long life, not least when she had to leave school to look after her family.

One of her nieces, Ellen Walton, said: “Her mother died when she was very young and she helped look after the family’s smallholding.

“She moved to Close House in August, she lived independently until then.”

Ellen added: “She likes her food – she’s a good grubber.

Ellen’s sister, Maureen Jackson, added: “She’s had a really hard life”

During the war, Margaret took in an evacuee – a boy from Wallsend.

They maintained a friendship, and he continued to visit Margaret for many years until his death.

Later, Margaret became a nurse, working at both Hexham and Haltwhistle hospitals.

However, she had to retire early in order to look after her father, who suffered a stroke.

Margaret said her secret to her longevity was just carrying on.

She said: “You just carry on as usual. You don’t have a choice, you just have to get on with it.

“Mum died when my brother was four months old, and we had house keepers after that. Some were good, some were bad.

“When I left school I had to do everything.”

Despite the challenges she has faced, another of Margaret’s nieces, Kath Blackburn, said the family could always count on Margaret’s support, and added: “She’s just always there.

“She’s always been there for all of us – the whole family.”