A WOMAN whose memories of old Oxfordshire helped with historical research has celebrated her 100 birthday.

‘Great Wantagian’ Beryl Stoter was flabbergasted when her family flew in from Wales and Ireland to surprise her on the day of her centennial.

Mrs Stoter spent her birthday on Thursday surrounded by her three sons David, Ian and Graham, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, the town mayor and her friends and carers at St Katherine’s care home on Ormond Road.

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A lifelong Wantage resident, the young Beryl Massey – as she was born – was often seen guiding her blind father, who ran a convenience store in Grove Street, as he delivered groceries to the residents of Wantage and surrounding villages as far as Letcombe Bassett.

After leaving school she took on a job as an assistant in the printing department at the Wantage convent.

She then became a clerk at Wantage Road station before taking on a position in Nicholl’s newsagents in Wantage Market Square.

In 1938, the young Miss Massey married Leslie Stoter – a bus driver from East Hendred – and become Beryl Stoter.

However, their seemingly idyllic life was tragically cut short when her husband developed serious health problems.

He went on to require home and hospital care for many years before he died in 1958.

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She spent the 77 years living in Priory Road where she brought up her three sons on her own and cared for her elderly parents, who moved in the family home in 1960 following the sale of their store.

Mrs Stoter’s youngest son Graham remembered that while the next few years were extremely difficult for his mother, what guided her was her devoted Christian faith.

She joined Wantage Parish Church choir and the Mothers' Union, and encouraged her children in church attendance and bell ringing.

Mr Stoter remembered his childhood fondly and said his mother never complained about her responsibilities.

He insisted she was always very involved with the town community and her memories of old Wantage were even used by local historians to assist with their research.

In 2016 Mrs Stoter moved to St Katharine’s care home as her physical and mental needs became more demanding, her son explained.

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Lead activities coordinator Rachel Burrows commented: “Mrs Stoter is such a lovely lady.

“She is so kind and always worries about other people.

“She constantly checks on the team and asks about residents who do not have local family to visit them.

“These bonds are important to both the carers and the residents.

“Beryl is a genuine, lovely and caring lady to us all.”

Mayor of Wantage Jim Sibbald also joined last week’s birthday festivities.

Mr Sibbald took to social media to commemorate the joyful day: “Congratulations on the 100 birthday to Mrs Stoter.

“I am honoured to meet this great Wantagian.”