Harborough sisters are 290 years old!

Lilian Brown (Ann) celebrates her 103rd birthday with sisters Dorothy Thompson (96) and Sylvia Sturgess (91)
Lilian Brown (Ann) celebrates her 103rd birthday with sisters Dorothy Thompson (96) and Sylvia Sturgess (91)

Meet three remarkable Market Harborough sisters with a combined age of 290!

Yes, the proof that long life really can be put down to good genes seems applicable here.

Celebrating her birthday last Friday was 103-year-old Lilian Brown, known as Ann.

And there to help her with the cake and wine were sister Dorothy Thompson (96) and the “baby” of the family, youngest sister Sylvia Sturgess, who is 91.

There’s also another sister who couldn’t make the celebration – Dorothy’s twin Ellen George (96), who lives in Northampton.

And their mother lived until she was 102!

The Clarke sisters were born and brought up in Northampton during and just after the First World War.

Three of them now live in Market Harborough because, as Sylvia says: “I love every minute of it here, even though it’s not the little village that I knew years ago.”

Ann’s celebration party was at her Harborough home in Stuart Road, where she still lives with her daughter – the youngster – Valerie Harrison (75). Ann also has four grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and a great-great-granddaughter.

Sylvia saod: “We had a lovely time at the party, although the wine was flying round a bit!”

Valerie added: “They were talking about all going on to a nightclub. But no, they didn’t do that in the end.”

And as for Ann herself: “I’ve lost my independence and I do get a bit bored,” she said. “But apart from that, I’m quite happy to be 103!”

So what exactly are the keys to living such a long life, apart from the gene pool lottery?

“Don’t think about dying; just be cheerful and carry on,” said Lilian.

Valerie says she thinks the long-living sisters have three things in common.

“They all worked independently,” she said.

“My mother’s husband died when he was 40, so she took on the business herself – she became the licencee at The Queen’s Head in Saddington. She also ran a greengrocer’s and did up houses to sell them.

“Then they’re all very feisty, and they speak their mind. They don’t mince their words.

“And thirdly, they’re all quite happy-go-lucky.

“They’ve all had sadness in their lives, but they always pick themselves up and get going again.”

So maybe that’s the secret; not a special elixir or a magic pill, but independence, self-expression and cheerfulness.