A WOMAN has celebrated her milestone 104th birthday, surrounded by friends and family at her Christchurch care home.

Residents and staff of the home put on a special birthday celebration for Muriel Rae.

Born in 1913 in Mountain Ash, Wales, Muriel moved to London to work in service at the age of 14.

She moved south to Bournemouth a few years later to work as a waitress in a local hotel with her aunt, and went on to run a boarding house on Holdenhurst Road. Muriel worked there until she retired, when she relocated to Highcliffe.

Muriel celebrated in style at Care South's Queensmead care home, with homemade cake decorated with roses made by her cousin.

Commenting on her birthday celebrations, Muriel said: "I had a wonderful day seeing all my friends and family together, I still can’t believe I’m 104.

"I’m often asked what’s my secret and I really believe you are only as old as you feel.

"I’m still young at heart and take so much enjoyment from my life.

"I would like to thank all the staff and residents at Queensmead, as well as all my loved ones, for making my big day one to remember."

Muriel has a son David who lives in America, with his wife and three daughters. She also has great-grandchildren and enjoys regular visits from her family as they travel from the US to see her.

Although they couldn’t attend her birthday celebrations this year, members of Muriel’s family will be visiting her in September for more celebrations.

Care home manager Emma Cotton said: "We were delighted to be able to celebrate Muriel’s special day with her.

"She is a popular resident, with lots of friends at the home, and is a real character. She’s always full of smiles and is at her happiest when the sun is shining.

"Muriel tells me that she is amazed that she’s reached 104, but says that she still only feels 80."