A devoted mother who joined the army in the Second World War has celebrated her 100th birthday.

Elsie Hendley, a great-great-grandma, was born in Marsh Street, Askam in 1920 as the seventh child from seven children.

When World War Two began in 1939, Ms Hendley joined the army with her elder sister, which is where she met her husband, Tom.

The pair lived in Tadworth where they had three children: Tom, Peter and Tony.

The couple then moved back to Askam, where she worked in the shipyard as a welder.

The youngest son, Tony, was born with the condition hydrocephalus – with doctors predicting the little tot would not live beyond seven.

However, contradicting medical opinions, Tony is still alive today. Ms Hendley left her husband Tom and lived from place to place. Her son Peter Ayling said she enjoyed the transient lifestyle.

The 75-year-old said: “It was a real struggle for my mother raising three kids on her own.

“But she always kept herself and us kids looking nice.

“She went above and beyond to make sure we were fed and clothed. She worked all over the place – at the tannery in Haverigg, Lakeland Laundry in Barrow, K-Shoes in Askam.

“When I left school, she moved to Doncaster to be nearer her eldest sister and she got remarried there. She left him after that then moved to back to Barrow, then back to Doncaster and bought a caravan near Hartlepool.

“She was never in one place for very long – she enjoyed moving from place to place.

“You’d go visit her and go back and she wouldn’t be living there anymore.

“She spoke her mind, she was very intelligent.

“Everyone got on well with her, she had a wicked sense of humour and a big personality.

“She loved going out and having a sing down to the pub. She used to enjoy company and having a laugh.”

Ms Hendley had a stroke in her late eighties which led to her developing dementia. She now lives in a care home near Doncaster which is where she celebrated her 100th birthday.

Mr Ayling said: “We always said she would reach a 100 because she was such a strong person. She was never overly worried about anything, she just got on life. We couldn’t have a party because of Covid-19 but the nurses got her a cake and balloons. I think it’s brilliant she’s reached this age, it’s such an achievement.”