A CELEBRATION cake featuring the Hunter aircraft piloted by her late Second World War flying ace husband was presented to Gwen Duke as she marked her 100th birthday.
Longstanding friend Tony Littlefair said: “Gwen had a wonderful birthday on Friday. She was visited by several neighbours and friends and received a letter from the queen.
“But the real highlight of the day was receiving a big birthday cake with a 1954 red Hunter aircraft on it – the plane that her husband achieved the air speed record in.”
Born in Ealing, London, in 1920, Gwen met Neville in a pub in Windsor shortly after the end of World War 2. They were married in 1947 and made their home in the village of Bray near Langley airfield where Neville was chief test pilot for Hawker aircraft.
The couple never had children together, but shared a passion for flying and always kept recreational aircraft. They retired to the Isle of Wight and later moved to Undershore Road in Lymington from where they also became keen sailors.
Neville was taken ill while flying 13 years ago. After safely landing at Popham Airfield he collapsed as he left the aircraft and died later that evening in hospital.
Since then Gwen has continued to live independently in Lymington with support from friends and help from visiting carers.
She says the secret to her long life has been sweet treats and, in particular, toasted buns with thick honey.