One hundred years is a long time to anyone, but centenarian Ena Banks can gladly say that is the span of her life so far – and she’s not slowing down any time soon.
Ena was born in Brighton on March 24, 1918 – eight months before the end of World War 1.
Her father was a soldier in the war. In peace time he was the caretaker for the Phoenix Assurance office, and her mother was a seamstress.
As she grew up she went into being a nanny in large homes, ‘just like popular television show Downtown Abbey’. She loved her time as a nanny but the Second World War interrupted proceedings and she felt she should do her part, so volunteered for the land army. She did her initial training in Rye and was assigned to doing tractor work such as ploughing.
Although she was not part of the fighting, she was shot at from planes on their way back to Germany and remembers having to quickly drive the tractors to the edge of the field to hide behind them.
She married Len Banks, a farm worker, in 1945 and they set up their first home in Westfield. They had four children – Jennifer, Carol, Roger and Peter. Ena went on to have seven grandchildren, seven great grandchildren and one great great grandson.
Len died in 2008 but Ena continued to live on well, until a nasty fall confined her to a wheelchair aged 98. Although at 100 she is unable to walk this does not stop her enjoying life or joining in activities at Glenmuir Care Home in St Leonards, where she lives. She loves to see the visiting animals, even having a snake around her neck and a large spider in her hand.
She still has an excellent memory, and says: “I am too old to catch dementia.”
More than 20 members of Ena’s family joined her to celebrate her milestone birthday with a special party.
Ena puts her good age down to hard work, home-grown food and pure luck.
Written by Martyn Greenstreet