A WOMAN who has lived a remarkable life has marked her 100th birthday.
Maria Combey met the Queen Mother on a walk through Dalton-le-Dale, once shook the hand of Sir Winston Churchill and once addressed a Women’s Institute meeting at the Royal Albert Hall on membership fees.
The centenarian has also celebrated 73 years with the organisation, which threw a party for her at her home in Church View, Murton, ahead of her big day and the arrival of her birthday card from the Queen.
Maria was born in Penshaw and moved to the home in 2008 after living in Penryn Avenue in Murton for the four years before.
The home’s manager, Alison Watson, said: “She’s a lovely lady and it’s a pleasure to be around her.
“She can tell you wonderful stories about her life.”
Maria remains proud of the day when she spoke at the Royal Albert Hall in 1947.
Sandra Dixon, of the Murton branch, said: “I joined the WI 50 years ago and anything I needed to know, she would know. She was almost my mentor at the WI.”
Maria’s only living relative, her niece Audrey Kelly, visited to join in the party, which welcomed senior members of the WI and included entertainment and cake.
Audrey said: “All the WI members came down and she loved it.”
There was also a visit from Councillor Pauline Charlton, Durham County Council’s vice-chairman, who visited Maria to present her with a basket of flowers.
Maria married Thomas Combey in 1935 and lived in Bournmoor for five years before moving to Murton, where her mother and grandparents had lived and are buried. Maria, nee Black, was widowed in 1977.
Her own mother lived into her early 90s and Maria attributes her longevity to a healthy lifestyle.
“I’ve never drunk or smoked and I’ve always walked everywhere,” said Maria. As well as clean living, Maria has always made sure to keep herself busy,
Alison added: “Her mind is still very active and she reads the newspapers every day.
“She did enjoy craftwork and cookery too.”