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PARTY GIRL: Jessie Shortland with her son, Leslie, and daughter-in-law Josie. SG120814-110TW

PARTY GIRL: Jessie Shortland with her son, Leslie, and daughter-in-law Josie. SG120814-110TW

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Former Sutton Bridge resident Jessie Shortland celebrated her 104th birthday on Tuesday with family and friends.

Her son, Leslie, said: “She’s never smoked, she’s had only the occasional drink and has always refused medication.

“The doctors wanted to put her on pills for her high blood pressure, but she refused, and she’s very rare because she’s on no medication at 104.”

Leslie said his mum had always ignored fads and fancies where food is concerned, not worrying about what’s supposedly good or bad for you, and ate just as she liked.

“She’s always gone her own way,” he said. “She’s always been a bit fiery so perhaps having a fiery temperament is why she’s lived for so long.”

Jessie was the second of eight children and is the only survivor.

Her father Ted Howe-Smith worked on Cross Keys Bridge when it was a railway and road bridge and used to swing it to allow vessels on the River Nene to pass through.

Jessie left school aged 14 or 15 and was in service until her marriage to Ernest Shortland.

Leslie said: “I think they first met when they were both out shopping in Sutton Bridge and, as you do, you get talking.

“If you go shopping every week you probably see the same people if you go at the same time.”

Ernest and Jessie lived on a smallholding following their marriage.

After Ernest died in 1991, Jessie lived in St Matthew’s Drive but the onset of dementia saw her move in 2011 to The Bankcroft Residential Home in Market Street, Long Sutton.

She spent her big day at the home with Leslie and his wife, Josie, nephew Reg Shortland, staff and residents.

Leslie (72), who now lives near Loughborough, is Jessie’s only son and she has two grandchildren, Michael, who works for Duncan and Toplis, and Helen, who is a therapist.

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