A FORMER dressmaker said she cannot believe she will turn 100 on Christmas Day.

Noella Brown was born in Lambeth in south London on December 25, 1919 – but she was not the first member of her family to be a Christmas baby.

She said: “I’ve always taken my birthday for granted.

“My dad’s sister was born on Christmas Day too, and she was also called Noella.

“There must be lots of children born on Christmas Day, but how many of them live to be 100?”

Noella, who lives in Hillside in Portslade, grew up in Lambeth and left school at the age of 15 to become a dressmaker.

She said: “I did a five-year apprenticeship at a small business in Brixton. There were only about nine staff.

“My first jobs were picking up the pins off the floor with a magnet.

“Later I made wedding dresses and wedding outfits for whole families.

“I can’t do it any more, but I’ve done so much sewing in my life. I made all my own clothes.”

Noella was the second eldest of six children, and said life growing up was hard, but they were happy.

She said: “I often think I would like to write a book, when I look back at how we used to live.

“We never had anything but we were well fed and we never seemed to want anything.

“We would only get an orange or an apple at Christmas, but we were happy enough.”

When asked what her secret is to living to be 100, Noella said: “I don’t think I got up to any mischief.

“I lived through the war and lost my first fiancé, who was in the Navy, at the age of 21.

“After that I went to live with his mother, and not long after I met my husband at a dance in Wimbledon.

“He was a guardsman called Glyn and we got married in 1942.”

Noella moved to Portslade 40 years ago to be closer to her sons, Martin and Mervin, and her five grandchildren.

Her granddaughter Lisa, 36, said she has lots of happy memories of Noella looking after her as a child while her parents worked full time.

She said: “My nan has always been good to me.

“She was always on her sewing machine whenever we came round and she made clothes for all of us, as well as all the dolls she has.

“She has a massive garden which she loves and they would always do treasure hunts for us.

“If it wasn’t for her bad hips now she would still be running around with everyone.

“We always get her two presents and we’ve got a party planned for her on the day.”