A CHOCOLATE loving 100-year-old has celebrated her birthday surrounded by friends and family in Bournemouth.

Thelma Cox, who is known as Jo to her friends and resides at Knyveton Hall Rest Home in Knyveton Road, was born in Hornchurch, Essex, in 1914.

Her family moved to Southampton when she was a child before growing up to be clinical dean secretary at Bristol Royal Infirmary.

Thelma came close to marrying a boyfriend in her youth, but he was stationed in India when World War II began and sadly never returned – a memory she still finds difficult to talk about.

However, she said she loved her job and has always enjoyed the simple things in life, and was delighted to be joined by a wealth of nephews, nieces and friends who helped her enjoy the big day with cake, champagne and flowers.

“I am not sure if there is any secret to my longevity,” said Thelma. “But I have always loved a glass of sherry and good food. My favourite is chocolate blancmange.”

She also praised the staff at Knyveton Hall for making her so comfortable during the last two years.

“They are all so friendly and such a great help,” she added.

Jean Thom, a senior care assistant at the home, said: “She is quite quiet, reads the newspaper every day and enjoys intellectual conversation.

“She has a great appetite – and particularly loves chocolate.

“She has a routine of having a piece of Bournville dark chocolate every night, which she swears by.”