“Have a laugh, don’t be miserable and make the most of each day” is the secret to a long and happy life, according to a grand old lady celebrating her 104th birthday.

Ruth Thomas, resident of The Lawns nursing home in Kempsey, celebrated the milestone on Saturday with friends and family and a glass of champagne, and even at 104 she still retains her razor-sharp wit.

Originally from Herefordshire, Ruth has lived in Kempsey for most of her life, managing the private swimming pool that was attached to the Lawns for 27 years alongside her husband Bert.

Looking back, Ruth said: “I was there telling the children off for dive-bombing and they used to all run off saying ‘look out, here she comes’

“They were very happy days and we loved running the pool. Our son Les was a brilliant swimmer and used to be in the pool all day.

“He got a call-up to swim for England but he said no because he swam for fun and didn’t want to ruin it.”

Having been in the town all these years, Ruth said Kempsey has changed dramatically, adding: “Where the pool used to be is houses now which is a shame. There used to be four shops in the town and a few pubs but now we haven’t got much.”

Ruth spends her days reading and talking to anyone who comes in, when it comes to books she “enjoys a good murder or a nice romance” and was full of praise for the staff at The Lawns, saying: “They take wonderful care of me here. I have someone who comes in and does my hair and nails and they are wonderful people to have looking after me.”

Joy Hoskins, activity lead at the home, said: “Ruth has two children, two grandchildren and now two great grandchildren, has a wicked sense of humour and can tell a tale or two about running the swimming pool and village life over the years. She is always good fun to spend time with and we are all so fond of her.”

“Happy birthday to this lovely lady, we raise a glass to you and wish you many more.”

On the subject of living a long and happy life, Ruth had the last word, saying: “A little bit of what you fancy does you good, drink lots of tea and don’t forget to laugh as much as possible.

“You never know where you will be the next day, so enjoy yourself.”