Clara's 'all smiles' on 106th birthday
A GREAT-GRANDMOTHER who is believed to be Stoke-on-Trent's oldest resident celebrated her 106th birthday with four generations of her family.
Former pottery worker Clara Middleton yesterday put her incredible longevity down to Ponds face cream and 'plenty of smiles' as she enjoyed being the centre of attention at her party.
She has outlived all of her six siblings, her two husbands and three sons.
The mother-of-three still lives independently at Sandon Court Sheltered Housing, in Sandon Old Road, Meir and her family believe she is the oldest person in North Staffordshire.
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Clara said: "I have had a hard life. I would say my secret is hard work.
"The happiest times in my life, were spent with my three sons, they were perfect and they have all gone."
Clara was brought up in Paradise Street, Longton, where she was left to care for her three sisters and three brothers after her father, Private Richard Whitefield, died from his battle wounds during the First World War and her mother had to go to work six days a week.
During the Second World War, she was put to work making bombs and driving a bread truck. And later on in life, Clara worked at a number of pottery companies, including Thomas Poole and Gladstone China in Longton and Fenton-based Shelley's.
She went on to spend many years behind the bar at the King's Head in Cobridge until she retired at the age of 82.
Granddaughter Nicola Podmore visits her grandmother every day.
The 47-year-old, of Weston Coyney, said: "She didn't ever want to stop working at the pub, she loved it. Me and my Nan are like best friends, we have such a laugh, she is a real character."
Clara was married twice, first to Thomas Podmore, the father of her children, who died in 1963. Her second husband was Jim Middleton, who she met in her 60s and later died.
She nearly married a third time at 82 but he too passed away before they could tie the knot. But when asked how long she had been married in total, Clara replied: "Too long."
The former Edensor School pupil has now received her third telegram from the Queen. Newcastle-based Authenticake also made her a cake for her special day, which included a miniature Clara sitting on her chair wearing her favourite pink pig slippers.
Nicola Weatherley, a housing officer at the complex, said: "Clara's always bright and cheerful. I wish everyone was like that.
"She claims that Ponds face cream and lots of smiles are the secret to a long life."
Great-grandson, Jesse Seaton, aged 19, from Weston Coyney, said: "She is quite funny, she loves having the family around. She used to try to make me sing Elvis when I was young. Everyone is amazed by her and wants to meet her."