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Wembley great-great-grandmother with love of horseracing and 'brilliant one-liners' celebrates 102nd birthday

PUBLISHED: 17:35 22 March 2019 | UPDATED: 12:15 25 March 2019

Melvina Cato celebrating her 102nd birthday with five generations of her family. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg

Melvina Cato celebrating her 102nd birthday with five generations of her family. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg

Jonathan Goldberg

A Wembley great-great-grandmother celebrated her 102nd birthday surrounded by five generations of her family.

Melvina Cato celebrating her 102nd birthday surrounded by her great and great-great grandchildren. Picture: Jonathan GoldbergMelvina Cato celebrating her 102nd birthday surrounded by her great and great-great grandchildren. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg

Melvina Cato held her youngest five-week-old great-great-grandaughter D’Sharaye Dupree in her arms as she sat surrounded by her loved ones on Wednesday.

The “lively, funny” great-great-grandmother, who lives in Monks Park, has five children, 14 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren – not all of whom were present, but all of whom were represented, on her big day.

A year younger than her sister Ruby, who will be 104 in the summer, Melvina needs no help on the stairs and will happily cook herself a meal – if her family let her.

“I have a good family,” she said. “Everyone is my favourite – they come to visit me.”

Melvina Cato celebrating her 102nd birthday. Picture: Jonathan GoldbergMelvina Cato celebrating her 102nd birthday. Picture: Jonathan Goldberg

Looking around, she added: “I am happy to see them – I have never seen so many!”

A member of the Windrush generation, she came to England on the ship The Orego in 1954, a journey that took two weeks.

“It wasn’t bad,” she recalled. “People were sick on the boat. I didn’t eat so much of that food so I wasn’t sick.”

She had enjoyed a childhood in Jamaica riding to school on horseback and on reaching the UK quickly discovered horse-racing, which reminded her of her two horses, and liked a little flutter.

While working in the laundry at Ealing Hospital for “22 and a half years and 80 days” she developed a hobby: “Every morning I got the paper before I go to work and I would read them [the horses] and at lunch time go and put them up.

“I was quite lucky many times!”

Her only daughter, Sonia, said: “I came here when I was 12. My mother worked hard and sent for all of us.”

Granddaughter Yvonne Duncan said: “She’s very funny, a serious joker who comes out with brilliant one-liners.

“She reacts to what we say very quickly. She’s also very headstrong – she knows what she wants. You can’t fool her. She forgets nothing!”

Granddaughter Cynthia Duncan added: “She instils so much goodness. She always tells us that if we do not walk with God and love in our heart we will not reach her age and that’s what we all strive on.”

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