A FARMER’S daughter who worked in the City until she was 88 said surrounding herself with good people was the secret to reaching 100.

Hannah Clarke, known to many as May, still lives at home in Manford Way, Hainault, and celebrated her birthday with a party at Epping Forest Community Church in Loughton on Sunday.

She grew up in the East End before moving to Olive House Farm in Hainault and started to learn bookkeeping after she married musician Herbert in 1934.

After working for a company that sold glass scientific implements, she worked for merchant banks, stockbrokers and an auctioneer in The City.

“Work was my salvation because I loved it so much,” she said. “I loved the people I worked with and they loved me.

“I’ve had all these lovely people around me, which has kept me in good fettle.”

In a memory book compiled by friends and family for her birthday, former colleagues remembered her taking them under her wing and sometimes working until midnight.

“When I was in the working mood, I used to work like a demon and never put my pen down,” she said.

“I was always popular because I wouldn’t stand any nonsense and the management respected that.”

She and Herbert had two sons, Tony and Peter, but when they split up, the boys went to live with their father before being sent away to school and she only traced them 57 years later.

She met her second partner, John, while she was having treatment for jaw cancer and they had a son, Steven, and a daughter, Lesley. She also has grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

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