Islington pensioner celebrates 100th birthday ten years after horror accident

A LIFELONG Islington resident who survived a horrific road accident at the age of 90 celebrated her 100th birthday this week.

Lily Baynham had to be rushed to the Whittington Hospital in 2000 after she was knocked over by a car in Essex Road.

Doctors told her they would have to amputate her leg, and the hospital even phoned the pastor at Cross Street Baptist Church to tell him that Lily had died.

But the plucky pensioner survived to tell the tale and follow in the footsteps of her late mother, who also got her telegram from the Queen and went on to reach the grand old age of 104.

Kathy Harlow, who has been a friend of Lily’s for 30 years from the church and lives in Penton Street, Islington, said: “Lily was crossing Essex Road when she was knocked over. The hospital phoned our pastor and said Lily had died, but when he got up there he found out it was another Lily.

“The doctors thought they were going to have to amputate but at the last minute they decided not to.

“The leg still troubles her and she uses a wheelchair if she goes out but she still gets around the house herself with a zimmer frame.

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“She’s a real inspiration. Apparently her parents were told that she would not live beyond the age of six because she had so many different illnesses when she was a baby. She was wrapped in cotton wool for her first few years but she went on to help out in the war and she even survived a couple of bombs.”

Ms Baynham lived most of her life in Halton Mansions, off Upper Street, Islington. She never married or had children, but around 50 of her friends and relatives gathered at her current home in Old Royal Free Square, off Liverpool Road, Islington, on Sunday to celebrate her centenary.

June Deasy, 79, who is Lily’s second cousin and came up from Portsmouth for the party, said: “During the Second World War Lily was a member of the ATS and she was attached to the Coldstream Guards at Wellington Barracks.

“When soldiers went abroad they would have to make a will and she would be in charge of that.

“Each morning they would lock her in a room with the wills so no-one would interfere and they would only open it again at lunchtime and the end of the day.

“She was very lucky though because the guards’ chapel was bombed when she was back in London for the weekend so thankfully she survived.”

She added: “We spend Christmas with Lily most years and she’s still very alert. She even took a group of friends on a visit to the mayor’s parlour a few years ago.

“She signed the pledge not to drink alcohol when she was back in her teens so probably that’s the secret of her reaching 100. Her mother Hannah made it to 104 so maybe Lily will beat that.”