Dancing may have always been the spice of life for 106-year-old Monica Budge but her longevity, she claims, is down to decades of hard graft.
Today marks the former mill worker’s latest landmark birthday and she celebrated in style with family and friends at her home in Hunslet, Leeds where she lives independently at the Assisi Place retirement living scheme.
Asked what the secret was to a long life, she said “to work hard as I’ve done all my life”, while her advice to young people today was to “be decent” in all that they do.
Born in Burnley in 1913, Mrs Budge has worked throughout her life, starting as a weaver in the Lancashire cotton mills before working in hospitals up until the outbreak of the Second World War.
The blackouts made the war a “terrible time” for Mrs Budge, who was also racked with concern for her husband Edmund during his service in the Navy.
When peace returned, she resume her work at the mills, going on to help assemble electric Belling fires at a factory in Burnley until she retired.
Though she eventually downed tools, her lifelong penchant for a dancefloor shuffle continued. A keen dancer, Mrs Budge used to go dancing four times a week and only stopped at the age of 83.
Through her love of a good boogie Mrs Budge met Edmund who was a saxophonist in a dance band. They met when she had to go back to a venue to retrieve her handbag and he asked if he could walk her home.
They married in 1936 and had a daughter. Mrs Budge now has two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, but lost Mr Budge when he was 54 after 29 years of marriage.
Mrs Budge moved to Assisi Place in 2011. Today’s birthday party saw the other residents sing happy birthday, share her cake and present her with cards. “It has been a lovely day,” she said.
“I never expected to get to 100. Living independently is keeping me alive.”