A DARWEN stalwart has celebrated her 100th birthday this week.

Olive Gray, who helped to run Gray's Menswear in the town with husband George, reached the milestone on Wednesday and celebrated with a lunch with her family after collecting her birthday card from the Queen.

The birthday telegram is the second correspondence she has received from the Queen, she received one in 2000 when she and her husband celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary.

Mrs Gray said: “I suppose it is a big achievement, but I don’t really see it that way.

“I just get up every morning and get on with it.”

Mrs Gray has a daughter, Jean Williams, who lives in Darwen and son Geoffrey, who lives in America. She also has three grandchildren, a great-grand child and another due in September.

She has lived in an apartment in Kemp Court residential accommodation for 21 years, which has allowed her to maintain an active lifestyle which the crossword fan claims is the secret to a long life.

She said: “You have to be honest and stay active, that’s the key to a happy life.

"The highlight of my life was when my husband came home from the war after three years.

“He was in the Airforce and stationed in Kashmir India.

“I don’t know how I coped, I just got on with it, I had to cope.

Mrs Gray married George Gray Jr, the son of Gray’s Menswear founder George Sr, in November 1940.

Mr Gray had been working in the business since 1933 and Mrs Gray took over the admin side of the business when they married.

Since Mr Gray’s death 10 years ago, Mrs Gray remains a partner in the business, which still has a shop in Northgate and online site

Gray’s now owned by John Williams who has worked for the company since he was 15 and became a partner 40 years ago.