A PORTLAND woman is about to celebrate her hundredth birthday in lockdown - and the community is being asked to join a surprise plan to help make it special.

Spritely Vera Carlyle had been looking forward to a bumper birthday bash to commemorate her hundredth year on May 2.

In a poignant twist to the celebrations, long-since-seen family members were due to fly in from as far away as Canada and New Zealand.

But with travel and gatherings now impossible due to the coronavirus pandemic, Mrs Carlyle - a founding member of the Southwell WI group - is said to be 'disappointed' that her special day will instead be spent in isolation.

To give her a birthday surprise, daughter-in-law Pauline Carlyle is rallying the community to pop a birthday card in the post, with the aim that Vera will have 100 cards written or made by local people to open on her birthday.

"She's so disappointed she can't have her party so we're just going to do the best we can," explained Pauline.

"We had planned an open-house celebration - she's lived there for a long, long time - so we'd invited all the neighbours to come in for a glass of wine, cup of tea and a piece of cake - there would have been around 75 people throughout the day, at least."

She added: "One was coming from Canada, one from New Zealand, another from Scotland and two nephews who live right at the top of England, but nobody can come now.

"It's a shame because you're only 100 once."

Pauline also wants as many neighbours as possible to give Vera a knock on her window at her home in Avalanche Road.

She said: "Although it will now just be my husband and I joining her on her birthday, we've got flowers ordered, and bunting and balloons, so we will make it a bit special.

"Loads of people know her round here, so I'm just hoping they'll pass by and give her a little wave on the day."

Born May 21920 in Leamington Spa, Vera Carlyle is the daughter of William and Lillian Cowley and the oldest of three siblings. Vera attend Leamington girls school and survived the Coventry blitz in 1940, however her place of was destroyed so she started work at Warwick Castle for the Ministry of Supply.

She got married in 1942 to Ian and had a son called Richard in 1944. The family moved to Portland in 1956 when Ian joined the prison service, working at HMP The Verne.

Vera still lives in Southwell where she is very happy.

Her son Richard married Pauline in 1967 and now Vera has four grandchildren and five great children, who she loves to visit her.

Pauline added: "Vera has led a busy life and had lots of friends whom at she misses, because at 100 years she's not got not many friends left.

"She loves her garden and spends time outside looking at her flowers and enjoying the sun."

The family is asking for birthday cards to be delivered to Island Community Action, Easton Shopping Centre, Easton Square, Portland, DT5 1EB.

The cards must arrive by April 28 to allow enough time to prevent any potential transmission of Covid-19.