Willesden great-grandmother celebrates her 100th birthday

Family describe widow ‘as cat with nine lives’

A great-grandmother whose family describe her ‘as a cat with nine lives’ celebrated her 100th birthday last week.

Cheerful Soledade Pontes was surrounded by her grandchildren and great-grandchildren at her special birthday party in Willesden Court Nursing Home on Friday.

The married mother-of-three moved to Kendal Road, in Dollis Hill, 42 years ago after leaving her native home of Madeira, Portugal.

She married husband Antonio and together they had three children, Anabella, Juvenal and Orlando.

Antonio, who suffered a stroke, sadly died in 1976, and Orlando died in 1998.

She has two grandchildren, Emmanuel and Steven and two great-grandchildren, Lara, eight and Paige, five.

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A loving mother and grandmother, Mrs Pontes has devoted her whole life to bringing up her family.

Despite ill health last year and relatives being told to expect the worst, the centenarian fought back and was in good spirits at her birthday celebrations.

Kari Da Costa, 38, who is married to her grandson Steven, said: “It’s a miracle that she is still here. It’s amazing.

“In October she got pneumonia and a chest infection. We were told to expect the worst but she pulled through. She is like a cat with nine lives.”

When asked what the key to having a long life is, Mrs Da Costa said: “I’m sure living off a diet of olive oil, garlic and lots of sunshine is the secret. She just goes on and on. She’s our Queen Mother.

“My children love spending time with her and she still likes to get her hair and nails done. She’s an inspiration.”