Published: 10:22, 26 November 2019
| Updated: 10:22, 26 November 2019
A hand written card from celebrity gardener Alan Titchmarsh was among the 101 cards received by a centenarian who has given her life to serving her community.
Florence Cork, known as Floss, from Eastry near Sandwich has devoted her years to helping others via her work with a youth club, Brownie and Guide packs and as a parish councillor of 34 years.
In return, an anonymous villager organised for people who knew her to flood her with birthday wishes on her special day - November 15.
In addition to messages from shopkeepers and WI members, there was a surprise or two from those who had been told about her community work.
These included from poet and comedian Pam Ayres and gardener and TV presenter Alan Titchmarsh, who wrote, ‘I know how much you have done for your local community, and just how highly you are regarded.’
The surprise has touched both Mrs Cork, who now resides at Glendale Lodge Residential Home in Kingsdown, and her family.
Mrs Cork’s daughter Gwenda Speck said: “We don’t know who organised it but she was absolutely thrilled.
“The cards started arriving two weeks before her birthday.
“She doesn’t have a lot of sight so we opened them for her and read them out to her and it’s been so good for her.
“She’s been chatting about it and been a lot more alert.”
Mrs Cork was born in Eastry and worked her first job as a kitchen maid at Petos, which now part of Manwood's School.
It was here where she met her future husband Robert Cork.
The couple lost a child, Kenneth, due to complications of German Measles during pregnancy but they went on to have three daughters, Rosemary, Gwenda and Julia.
Together the pair founded a youth club with the local vicar, the Rev Cartman in 1946 where Mrs Cork taught the girls to cook and sew whilst Mr Cork taught the boys practical lessons like woodwork and life skills.
Mrs Cork joined the Woman’s Institute at the age of 19.
She took an active roll as president, secretary and committee member until the grand age of 97.
She was also involved in the scouting movement and ran Brownie and Guide packs until the age of 65 and remains a member of the Trefold Guild, for retired members of the Girl Guides.
She is also still president of Eastry Horticulture Society.
She served as parish councillor for 34 years, a member of the Eastry Elms House Committee for many years and continued to collect the rents on a regular rota with other members, listening to tenants needs and supporting them until she was in her 90s.
Mrs Speck added: “Our mum’s motto is ‘It’s more blessed to give than receive’.
“She found her greatest fulfilment was to give.
She continues to this day, to put others before herself.”
Mrs Cork also chose not to accept birthday presents, instead asked for donations to Alzheimer’s UK, raising £600.