Big treat for Eva as she celebrates her 103rd birthday

IT was the year that Woolworth's and Selfridges opened the doors of their first UK stores, King Edward VII was on the throne and Ernest Shackleton made his heroic attempt to reach the South Pole.

But on Christmas Eve 1909, Eva Barlow was taking her first breath after being born in Norwich.

And this week, she celebrated her 103rd birthday surrounded by members of her family at the Broadlands Residential Home in Oulton Broad, which has been her home for eight years.

Still energetic for her age, and known for her ever-happy demeanour, Mrs Barlow was given a special treat as she was allowed to play with Poppy, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, from the charity Pets As Therapy.

She said: 'I love dogs. I always had a dog.'

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Mrs Barlow was born Eva Warden in Towlers Court on Elm Hill at Norwich. She worked in the city's boot and shoe industry and lived in a bungalow in Woodlands Road, Costessey, with her husband Albert.

They built the property and named it Lowden, combining parts of her maiden and married names.

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Mrs Barlow loved playing the violin and she performed in several Norwich orchestras as well as being a member of a concert party and a founder member of the Costessey Old Friends Club.

In 1979, the Barlows moved to Oulton Broad to be with their son, Michael.

Mrs Barlow is the oldest resident at Broadlands Residential Home and, although she gave up playing the violin 10 years ago, she still enjoys music and taking part in the activities at home.

She said she was pleased to be known for her sunny disposition as 'it is nicer to be happy than miserable', and she was also proud of being 'a good ole Norfolk gal'.

Poppy was brought in to Broadlands by Pets as Therapy after a request by her grandson Simon Barlow, 45, who visited his grandmother on her birthday on Monday with his partner Jane and his father, Mike.

Mrs Barlow also spoke on the phone to her nephew Bryan in Wellington, New Zealand, and she chatted to her other grand-daughter Tracey on the internet site Skype as she lives in the Orkneys.

Mike Barlow, 73, said his mother was 'a remarkable woman for her age' and said the home and its staff played a major role in keeping her so energetic and healthy.

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