RESIDENTS of a Tyne Valley village turned out to celebrate the 100th birthday of one of the community’s most loved members.

Long-time Ovingham resident Jean Taylor hit the milestone on Monday, June 1.

Villagers surprised her with a socially-distanced gathering on the green by her house, organised by Coun. Doreen Jordan, the chairwoman of Ovingham Parish Council, and her husband Bill.

Residents gave their congratulations and best wishes to Jean, while there was also a performance from the church choir and local county councillor Karen Quinn baked a birthday cake.

Jean was born as Jane Thompson, but has always been known as Jean. She was brought up in Newcastle, and survived almost nightly air raids as the Germans targeted the Vickers Armstrong Munitions Factory. She moved to Ovington in 1953, before heading down the road to Ovingham after she met her husband George.

The couple met at a dance and were happily married. They had one daughter, Maureen, who went on to be a teacher.

Jean was an excellent ballroom dancer, and renewed her interest in dancing after George died.

She was also a keen fund-raiser, raising money for children’s charities in Africa and Christian Aid. She is also a keen church-goer, attending both church and chapel.

Her daughter, Maureen, said: “She’s a bit of a character.

“She’s only five foot one, but she’s very strong. She’s been a lovely mum to me. I’m an only child, but she loves her nieces and nephews too. She has a good strength of character - if somebody was doing something they shouldn’t, she’d let them know.

“I remember one day we were walking through a field, and a boy was going up and down on a trial bike. It was annoying her - so she told him she would knock his block off!”

Despite her age, Jean continues to live independently in the village.

Commenting on her birthday surprise, Jean said: “It was a lovely day. I didn’t expect it, it was a nice surprise.”

And when asked what her secret was to a long life, Jean added: “I don’t know - you just keep going. I loved dancing, I danced quite a lot which kept me fit.”