At an awe-inspiring 101 years young, Lily Read, born in Plymouth in 1922, has lived a truly extraordinary life.

Residing contentedly at Hatherleigh Nursing Home, she continues to lead an active and independent lifestyle that inspires everyone around her.

Lily’s journey began as a young live-in nanny for a doctor in Harrow Barrow, near Gunnislake, after completing her schooling. Lily later tied the knot with the love of her life Doug, however shortly after the matrimony, devastation hit, not only with the start of World War II and Doug being drafted to serve in the Navy, but also because they were expecting their first child.

Now living on her own and with-child, another challenge was faced when the doctor’s family that Lily worked for moved away from Plymouth due to bombing concerns, so Lily found an alternative path and secured a position at an ammunition factory.

Merciless and heart-wrenching, destiny’s cruel hand struck once more as her husband’s ship was ruthlessly torn apart by a torrid torpedo, and Doug sadly lost his life before ever having the chance to meet his daughter Jean.

With Plymouth being a high target and not safe, the Navy made the move for expectant naval wives to move out of the County and turned a stately home called Pentillie Castle in Saltash into a maternity unit where Lily gave birth to daughter Jean.

After giving birth, Lily and Jean relocated to Okehampton, where her mother resided. Lily required substantial assistance in her endeavour to re-enter the workforce and support her family. She secured positions in both a dairy and a school canteen, working during lunchtimes and evenings to ensure a stable income.

Amidst her adversities, Lily’s remarkable resilience and resourcefulness illuminated her path. Now a grandmother, she taught herself the art of dressmaking, attending night school in the 70’s to master embroidery. Over time, Lily’s sewing prowess flourished, adorning not only herself but also others, including her cherished granddaughter, Tracey.

Upon reaching 60, after decades marked by selfless dedication to both her craft and family, Lily embraced the well-earned reprieve of retirement.

A bond formed with a circle of fellow widows, kindred spirits who found solace in one another’s company. Coffee mornings, and day trips out became cherished activities, a canvas for reminiscing and weaving shared memories.

In March 2022, the loving embrace of Hatherleigh Nursing Home welcomed Lily into its fold, where she has since found comfort and friendship. Still wanting to keep her independence, Lily delights in keeping busy around her home, which is a continuation of her accustomed lifestyle.

This consistency is essential for sustaining overall well-being. Lily’s matter-of-fact approach to keeping herself occupied and contributing to the well-being of others highlights the significance of household chores.

A spokesperson for Hatherleigh Nursing Home said: “Hatherleigh Nursing Home believes that everyone needs support in unique and different ways, and by understanding one’s life history, these simple yet meaningful actions, she derives a sense of purpose, accomplishment, and continues to lead a fulfilling life within her environment without any noticeable change from her previous life at home.

“Lily’s life journey is an inspiring tale of determination, resilience, and selflessness. Her remarkable story reminds us all of the indomitable human spirit and the strength that lies within each one of us.

“Hatherleigh Nursing Home is based in the small market town of Hatherleigh near Okehampton, Devon. It’s approach to life recognises the values, beliefs and identity of each person.”

To find out more about Hatherleigh Nursing Home, visit