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103 year old churchgoer receives 900 birthday cards following care home appeal

by Reuters Journalist

A 103-year-old war veteran was given a birthday to remember after she received more than 900 cards from strangers following an appeal from her care home.

Nellie Orme, who was born on July 15, 1920, was left "gobsmacked" after well-wishers from across Britain sent hoards of cards to mark her amazing milestone.

The widow, who drove buses and served in the Woman's Royal Air Force during World War Two, has lived through 27 Prime Ministers and five monarchs.

Tunstall Hall Care Centre started a Facebook appeal on July 4 for 103 cards to thank Nellie for her service and to make her birthday "extra special."

But they were left stunned when the postman began delivering hundreds of cards at a time on their doorstep in Market Drayton, Shropshire.

The care home has now received over 900 cards, from all across the UK, as well as international phone calls and emails from as far as America and Tasmania.

On Friday great-great gran Nellie enjoyed a special afternoon tea party with cakes celebrating with staff, residents and even serving members of the RAF.

Deputy manager, Vicky Richards, 44, said: “Last year she asked for a blue canary as she loves birds, so we managed to get her a little budgie.  This year she said she already has everything she needs, but it’s such a special milestone for her that we just couldn’t let it go unnoticed.

"I’d seen appeals like this before, so I thought I’d give it a try and see if we could get 103 cards for Nellie’s 103rd birthday.  The postman then started delivering boxes and boxes full of cards.

"Whenever we told Nellie there was another 100 cards that have been delivered, she let out a little giggle.

“We’re absolutely blown away by the response and never in my wildest dreams did I think it would go so viral.

"These past few years have been really challenging for care homes, so for everyone to come together worldwide and show their love for Nellie is really amazing.”

Nellie was also treated to having her hair and nails done for the party and staff say they will read every single card to her - even if it takes months.

Ms Richards added: “We come into the care profession as we care, so it was so important for us to recognise Nellie for everything she’s achieved in her long life.

"We love her, she’s like family to us and deserves to be pampered. She’s a star.”

Care home manager Lesley Smith, 49, added: “We’ve had an overwhelming amount of support with the local MP wanting to visit and even someone from RAF Shawbury came to to give Nellie her card and thank her in person for her service.

“She’s a very quiet and private person, but her smile is priceless, and she’s got a wicked sense of humour.

"We’re all so grateful to everyone wanting to make her day special and the response has made all our wonderful staff feel appreciated too.”

Nellie was born in Stanton Upon Hine Heath, Shrops.,and has lived in the care home for eight years.

The retired bus driver was the eldest of four siblings and was married to her husband Ellis for more than 30 years before he died in 1984.

She was also a central figure of the community, including as a regular at Shawbury Church for more than 20 years, after moving to the area in 1950.

Nellie celebrated her birthday on Saturday with her family including her son, two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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