A SECOND World war veteran celebrates her 100th birthday today - just months after she fought off Covid.

Esther Baker, who lives in a Hove care home, was taken ill in March and was seriously ill.

But she managed to beat the virus and is looking forward to going to The Ivy restaurant in Brighton today to mark her milestone birthday.

"I'm so excited, it's like looking forward to getting married almost," she said.

"I'm looking forward to it but then I'm not because once it's come it's over, the best part of anything is the anticipation."The Argus: Esther Baker is 100 years old today.Esther Baker is 100 years old today.

Esther, who is originally from London, served in the Army as a private in communications across the South and Wales.

She said the job taught her discipline, something she thinks is vital for everyone to have in their lives.

While in the Army Esther met her first husband, Ronald, and after the war they moved to Brighton together. The pair were married for 14 years but eventually divorced.

Esther always kept herself busy, working in an office during the day and then waitressing in the evenings. It was through waitressing that she met her second husband, coincidentally also named Ronald.

The Argus: Esther survived WW2 and the pandemic.Esther survived WW2 and the pandemic.

She said: "So, I married the second Ronald ten years after and all that time I was on my own. But I was only married to the second Ronald for four years because he died. Since then I've been on my own.

When she was widowed Esther started going on cruises, something she enjoyed for 20 years.

"I loved it. Once I even did a round-the-world cruise, but it was a bit boring, 100 nights is a bit too long you see," she said.

After travelling the world on 50 different cruises, sometimes with friends and sometimes alone, Esther returned home to Brighton and lived by herself in a flat.

She continued to work in office jobs until her retirement in her late 70s. She also did voluntary work, visiting elderly people in their homes and made lifelong friends with three young volunteers, who now visit her with their children.

"I used to walk from where I lived by St Peter's Church down to Hove, to George Street, to pick up The Argus and sit on a bench at Palmeira Square on the corner reading," said Esther. "It's not that they didn't sell them where I lived it's just that the long walk kept me occupied. I always like to have something to do."

The Argus: Esther aged 21, a year after she joined the Army.Esther aged 21, a year after she joined the Army.

When she was 97 Esther had an accident that meant that she was unable to walk again and she moved into Lindridge care home.

She was 99 when she caught Covid and nearly died. She said: "Whenever there's something going on I'm always in the middle of it, whether it's a war or a pandemic apparently. I was sure it was my time but here I am."

Esther enjoys the peace and quiet of her care home and spends most of her time picking out what to watch on television in her TV guide, reading and taking part in the activities put on by the home. She also enjoys visits from her brother's wife and children, her only remaining family.

She has some advice for a long and happy life. She said: "Don't let anything get you down, even if your heart's breaking, always keep a smile on your face. Otherwise, they've won. Jealousy is a wasted emotion. Loneliness is all in your mind, there's always someone to talk to or something you can do. Be happy in your own company."

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