A WOMAN who saved a First World War flying ace from drowning will celebrate her 100th birthday on Sunday.

Brenda Vickery, née James, made the newspapers in 1937 after saving the life of Captain F J Phillips off Southampton when she was just 22.

He had been knocked off his feet by a wave and was submerged under the water.

Close to death, his life flashed before his eyes before Brenda rushed to his aid.

When a reporter called at her parents’ house for an interview the following day, he discovered she had not even mentioned the incident.

Her father is reported as saying "well I'm dashed".

In the years since, Brenda's long life has taken her from Southampton to Tripoli with her army captain husband, where she has fond memories of the bright stars in the clear night sky over Libya.

After several years in Singapore she moved to Hove where she has lived for 40 years.

Brenda said: “When I heard my grandson had told you about my birthday I was cross with him. I hope you won’t make a fuss.”

Still independent, physically healthy, and quick-witted on the eve of her century, she said: “I play bridge which I think helps keeps the mind sharp.

“Although I’m 100 I don’t feel like it.

“I still live on my own and I shop for myself, although my family is always happy to help of course.

“I get a taxi to the shops and fill a trolley and get a taxi back, and the drivers are always very kind and help carry it all in for me.

“I do my own housework, I like to look after myself.

“When I was brought up we weren’t allowed to sit around, and I try to keep as energised as I can.”

Brenda will be spending this weekend with her two children, three grand-children and three great-grandchildren.

She said the secret to a long life is the sea air, a good gin and tonic and lots of walking.