The newest centenarian in Epping Forest was “overwhelmed” by a surprise party this week, her family have said.

Violet Archer, of Wheelers Farm Gardens in North Weald, received her birthday card from the Queen on Wednesday (October 21) as she celebrated with family and friends.

After a visit to Smith’s restaurant in Ongar, the party returned home where Mrs Archer was met by family from as far afield as Australia.

Her niece Irene Batchelor, 85, said: “It was really lovely, I think she was overwhelmed because she had no idea at all.

“She thought it was just going to be the three of us going out and there were 11, and then when we went back there were about 22 of us.

“We said we were going into the lounge just to sit and have a cup of tea, so it was a real surprise, she was overwhelmed with the lovely flowers and presents.”

Mrs Archer was born in Bow, East London, in 1915, the second youngest of five boys and five girls.

Leaving school at 14, she was evacuated during the war before returning to Dagenham.

She survives two husbands, and had one daughter who passed away in 2000.

Working up until the age of 60 as a cook, Mrs Archer is renowned for her good health other than hearing problems.

Her long life, she claims, is all down to the restorative properties of cod liver oil.

Mrs Batchelor said: “She says it all the time.

“Seven Seas, she has taken them for years.

“She takes five a day just on its own, and she is a really healthy lady.”

After moving to North Weald 15 years ago to be near her son-in-law, Mrs Archer still cooks and cleans for herself and regularly sees her nieces.

“She has had to work all her life and some unlucky things have happened to her, but that is how it goes,” said Mrs Batchelor.

“She is a very kind, lovely person who never complains… she has always had to fend for herself.”