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Great-great-grandmother born in Canning Town celebrates 90th birthday

PUBLISHED: 14:49 28 June 2017

Jessie Smith, right, with daughter Barbara Macdonald, left. Picture: Smiles Better Entertainment

Jessie Smith, right, with daughter Barbara Macdonald, left. Picture: Smiles Better Entertainment

Smiles Better Entertainment

More than 400 relatives and friends have attended a surprise birthday party for a 90-year-old great-great-grandmother.

Jessie Smith poses in front of the selfie mirror with daughters Linda Horton, Lesley Blake, Barbara Macdonald, Jessie Rifat, Maureen Bond and Julie Popkin. Picture: Smiles Better EntertainmentJessie Smith poses in front of the selfie mirror with daughters Linda Horton, Lesley Blake, Barbara Macdonald, Jessie Rifat, Maureen Bond and Julie Popkin. Picture: Smiles Better Entertainment

The lively celebration for Jessie Smith, who was born in Canning Town, Newham, featured a selfie mirror - a cross between a mirror and a photobooth - an Elvis tribute act and home-cooked food.

Jessie, known to all the family as ‘nanny Jess’, has 12 children, 42 grandchildren, 98 great-grandchildren and 19 great-great-grandchildren.

Granddaughter Katy Preshaw described the party at the Roundhouse Dagenham on Saturday as a joyous and brilliant occasion.

She said: “My nanny did not realise it was for her. She thought she was going to a wedding.

Jessie Smith celebrating her 90th birthday. Picture: Katy PreshawJessie Smith celebrating her 90th birthday. Picture: Katy Preshaw

“She was a bit overwhelmed because she saw so many people that she obviously recognised.”

Jessie is a glamorous, caring and dry-witted woman, according to her granddaughter.

“She is like the Queen. She has always got her diamonds around her neck and a bit of colour on.”

Jessie was born on June 17, 1927 and met her husband, Arthur, when she was 17 through mutual friends.

Katy said Arthur initially complained about his date turning up continually late and warned she would be given “one more chance”.

“She was a bit reluctant at first which is why she turned up a bit late,” explained Jessie.

“At first she thought ‘I can’t date him because he’s too short’ but thankfully she did and carried on.”

The happy couple spent 50 blissful years together before Arthur’s death 21 years ago.

“Her and my grandad were in awe of each other, they were forever in love,” said Jessie.

She never looked at another man in that way. They had a fruitful relationship and she wouldn’t mind me telling you that.”

In 1948, the couple moved with their three children from an army hut in London to their Dagenham residence.

Katy said her nanny couldn’t believe the whole three-bedroom home belonged to them.

“She spent the first three months living in the living room until my grandfather persuaded her the house was theirs,” Jessie said.

She added the great-great-grandmother has always put her family first.

Katy said: “She is just everything. She is a good role model to all of us.”

The 33-year-old gave a special mention to Aunt Lesley who has provided fantastic support to Jessie in recent times.


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