A FORMER nurse turning 108 says Covid is “nothing like World War One” whilst celebrating her birthday.

Officially London’s oldest lady, Betty Spear celebrated her birthday with four generations of loved ones at St Judes Nursing Home in Sutton.

The former nurse was born in Ireland in 1913 and claims the secret to her life has been “hard work and a tipple of whiskey once a week”.

Unable to see her grandchildren or great grandchildren last year due to Covid restrictions, her entire family – and even the local mayor – were present to wish Betty a happy birthday.

Her youngest great granddaughter, Louise, is a psychology student at Sussex University.

The 19-year-old said she feels “lucky” to have celebrated with Betty this year. 

"It’s just so weird how she’s like this old,” Louise said. “I admire how she’s made it to this age and she’s still so gracious."

“I think if I’m still alive in 108 years the world will be full of technology like flying cars.”

Betty, whose real name is Sarah, moved to London aged 18 to become a nurse and went on to practice in Carshalton.

There she met and married George Spear in 1947 before giving birth to their daughter Anne.

Betty outlived her husband and daughter who both suffered from heart disease.

Asked if Covid-19 was the worst event of the past 100 years, Betty said: "Oh no, not really”.

“The First World War was the worst thing, Covid is nothing in comparison,” she said.

“I don’t think the NHS have coped very well during Covid. People are not so friendly anymore.”

Betty, who was still doing the Irish jig aged 103, said “keeping active and drinking a good strong cup of tea - not the watery stuff” is her top secret.

Betty’s granddaughter Jane Welch, 50, said: “You couldn’t stop her if you tried, bless her. She loved to do the Irish jig.

“She’s been through a lot because she lost her daughter. She stopped working at 90 and then quit smoking when her daughter - my mum - passed.

“Two years later she fell down a flight of stairs from top to bottom and broke her hip - she’s a tough nut.”

Among the 25 cards Betty received was a letter from the Queen wishing her a happy 108th birthday.

Half a dozen doves were also released to mark the occasion in front of Betty’s fellow residents.

St Judes Nursing home is one of the few homes in the region to remain Covid-free throughout the pandemic.