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Win Jefferies celebrates her birthday in style. Image: Lynne Mowbray

Valley’s oldest resident turns 107

Lynne Mowbray|

At 107, you would think that it was time to slow down, but not for Dougherty Villa Grafton resident, Winifred (Win) Jefferies.

The much loved resident, who turned 107 on Saturday August 24, celebrated her birthday over two days, with her family and friends.

Win, who is the Clarence Valley’s oldest resident, still plays two games of Housie and enjoys reading the daily paper to keep up to date on the latest news. She takes part in all the activities at the villa and still takes herself for walks around the complex with her wheelie walker. Win still has a sharp memory and a sense of humour and is possibly tennis superstar Roger Federer’s greatest and oldest fan.

On Friday, family members joined Win for a special morning tea to celebrate her birthday and during the afternoon, Win entertained St Mary’s year 5 students with a talk about her life. 

The students usually visit every fortnight and take part in activities at the villa, but as a special activity on the eve of her 107th birthday, Win sat with them as her life story was read out to the students. Win got to share with them a little about what it was like, when she was growing up here in the valley.

“I talked about primary school and going to high school before the bridge was built and how we used to go across the river on the big punt,” Win said.

“I remember watching the big ‘ferry’ they used to call it, that they used to put all the train carriages on and take them across the river, because there was no bridge for them to go across,” she said.

The students were all amazed at Win’s stories and before they left, they sang for her and gathered together for a photo with the 107-year-old.

“I suppose they never saw anybody that old before,” Win said.

On Saturday morning as she entered the dining room at Dougherty Villa for breakfast, Win was wished a happy birthday by both residents and staff, who applauded the 107-year-old.

The staff brought out a cake which they had made for her and took photos before breakfast was served.

Behind where Win was seated, was a wall of photos depicting special memories and events, throughout her life.

One of the photos was of a young Win, with her late husband of 67 years, Eric. The photo showed a very stylish young woman, who at 107, maintains her love of fashion and accessorising her outfits; a beautiful and elegant lady.

“I used to love shopping at Clovelly’s in Maclean for my clothes, but these days I have to shop in Grafton,” Win said.

“I bought this outfit from Birdscage, to wear on my birthday,” she said, pointing to the black dress she was wearing, which was matched with complimenting red accessories and red shoes.

Win sat at her usual table for breakfast with her friends Nellie, Doreen, Betty and Dorothy who laughed and chatted about their ages, which totalled 479 years.

Fellow centenarian Doreen Sheehan 102, commented about the ladies sitting at their table.

“It’s a lovely crew around the table,” Doreen said.

“We all get on really well. They call us the ‘naughty nanny’s’.

“Win’s a lovely lady and I think that it’s wonderful that she’s celebrating her 107th birthday today,” she said.

At the age of 107, the one question most people want to ask, is what is her secret to longevity?

“I’m a teetotaller and have never smoked,” Win said.

“I exercise, so I don’t have tuckshop arms.

“I try and do a bit of walking, I don’t want to get stiff all together.

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” she said, as she happily shared what she has for breakfast each morning.

“Breakfast starts with (a small compote of) fruit.

“I have coffee with milk – and a shake of salt,” Win said, as she shook the salt into her coffee.

“I have salt in my rolled oats (porridge) too,” she said.

Win finished off breakfast with a piece of toast, which she buttered.

“I spread vegemite on my toast then top it with smashed avocado,” she said.

“Now that everyone knows that, you won’t be able to buy any vegemite or avocados in Grafton tomorrow,” she said laughing.

Win adds a shake of salt to her coffee. Image: Lynne Mowbray
Win celebrates her 107th birthday on Saturday, with her friends. L-R Nellie Cox, Doreen Sheehan, Win Jefferies, Betty Crane and Dorothy Martin. The combined ages of the five women comes to 479 years. Image: Lynne Mowbray

According to information published on the internet, he oldest Australian man ever was Jack Lockett (1891–2002), who died at the age of 111 years, 123 days. Since the death of Wilhelmina Overall on 21 October 2018, the oldest known person in Australia is Agnes Kluckhenn (born 1 April 1909).