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101-year-old poppy seller’s long life tips

The secret to living old is not to worry and to help people - and an occasional drop of rum doesn't hurt either

08 November, 2018 — By Helen Chapman

THE secret to a long life? Fruit, vegetables and the occasional drop of rum.

This is the advice of 101-year-old Alma Kent, who spent the day selling poppies at Hampstead Underground station yesterday (Wednesday) ahead of this weekend’s Remembrance Sunday events. “I said I’ll live to see 100 and look at me now,” she said. “I have two sisters who are 108 and 102 and a brother who is 104. It’s in the blood.”

Ms Kent served in the Second World War as a nurse but was captured by the Japanese Army in 1942 during the Battle of Singapore.

She was held as a prisoner of war for three years. “They treated us terribly,” she said. “I had a damaged spine, skull and broken jaw. “One night they said they were going to kill us in the morning then the next morning arrived and there was nobody there. The war was over.”

In the aftermath of war, she was treated in a hospital in West Virginia for eight years. A rod was inserted into her spine and her jaw was replaced with plastic.

She moved to Edgware, where she now lives, in 1960. “When I came home I was only four stone,” she said. “I was 18 stone when I joined the army. After the war I was so ill I couldn’t stand up. Now I live on fruit and vegetables and a drop of rum. I don’t eat meat or have tea or coffee, just hot water in the winter and cold water in the summer. I live on my own and I do everything myself – my own painting, decorating and electronics. The secret to living old is not to worry and to help people.”

Nick Morris, who lives in Hampstead, said: “I found her an inspiration. She made me extremely proud. “It was shame some people were walking past unnoticed – they were walking past history as far as I was concerned.”

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