A STYLISH, independent, and quick-witted nonagenarian says she doesn’t fancy turning 100 next week.

She’d rather be 21 instead.

Queenie Brooks-Baker, who is known for her wit and kindness, will be celebrating her centenary in lockdown at Birch Grove nursing home in Stanford Avenue, Brighton, on Thursday next week.

Her granddaughter Michelle Smith, 55, who lives in Peacehaven, plans to turn up and wave a birthday banner outside – and has ordered cake. Michelle said: “She’s such a kind woman, and she’s got a great sense of humour. She’s very quick-witted and sharp and she’s always seen the funny side in things.”

Ahead of the big day, Queenie told The Argus: “I am not going to be 100, I am going to be 21.”

Michelle said: “When I go and see her and ask how she feels about turning 100, that’s always her answer.

“She’s always made a joke of things, and she doesn’t want to admit she’s going to be 100 years old.

“It was the same when she celebrated her 90th birthday – she used to say ‘I’m not 90’. And every time, she’d say she was going to be turning a younger age.”

Queenie has lived a rich life.

She was born in Kingsley Road, Brighton, and started work as a curtain-marker in the 1930s, fashioning them for actors living in Sussex Square including Dora Bryan.

She carried on working into her eighties.

During the Second World War, Queenie worked in a munitions factory in London, where she and the other workers put their lives at risk working on volatile exploding “tracer” bullets for a little extra pay.

When the war was over, she married Jack Brooks-Baker, a French polisher who put a shine on the heavy wooden doors that used to adorn banks. He had served in Burma and the two were married on December 22 1945.

Queenie has travelled widely – to Canada, Italy, the USA, Jersey and all around the country on coaches.

She raised two children, Valerie, 73 and Michael, 71, and has five grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

Jack died in 1993 and Queenie lived independently until last year.

Michelle said she always dresses beautifully in a matching cardigan and necklace.

She is looking forward to the family’s visit on the big day – even if they can only see each other through the window.

  • The coronavirus Sussex Crisis Fund has been set up to help those affected by the pandemic. The Argus’s charity and American Express have each donated £50,000 to kick-start the appeal. Grants will usually be for up to £5,000. More information is available at www.sussexgiving. org.uk/apply. To donate visit www.totalgiving.co.uk/appeal/sussexcrisisfund