A popular Marehay pub landlady proved she still has the power to pull a crowd as 20 of her family and friends visited for her 100th birthday this week.
Elsie Tomlinson currently resides at the Willows Elderly People’s home off Slack Lane in Ripley - but many will know her as the hostess of the Holly Bush in Marehay for more than 30 years alongside her husband Cyd.
And on Thursday, February 6, the sharp witted centenarian, celebrated the milestone by opening a congratulatory telegram from the Queen and a party attended by a host of her family - some of which had come over from America.
When asked how it feels to be 100, she quipped: “I felt better when it was my 50th birthday!”
Elsie, who has lived in and around Ripley all her life, spent her early working days at Wittering shoe suppliers, which had outlets in the town and at Long Eaton, she said.
In 1935 she married Cyd at Ironville Church. Her beau had been a customer at the shop and a sign writer for Ripley Co-operative Society.
But in 1939 the pair were separated when Cyd enlisted in the army, just when they were considering starting a family.
Elsie said: “I was happy, enjoying my youth until Hitler came on to the scene.
“Cyd was away for six years.”
Elsie enlisted in the Ripley food office on Grosvenor Road, and recalls that she was tasked in handing out wartime rations to expectant mothers of orange juice, cod liver oil and natural dried milk.
And it was during this time the youngest of five children decided that she would like to take over the running of a pub at the end of the conflict.
Thankfully Cyd returned home safe in 1946 and a few years later the couple noticed the tenancy of the Holly Bush, on Brook Lane, was up for grabs.
They signed the lease in 1953 having never seen inside the building, Elsie recalls.
“If I had seen the place it before, I don’t know whether we would have signed,” she said. “It was a very old building and it wasn’t in a very good condition.”
But as Cyd had been a painter and decorator and sign writer, the pair managed to turn the Holly Bush into a popular venue.
In later years the couple would provide tea for the Marehay Cricket Club players and were well known for putting on a top New Years Eve bash.
Elsie said; “We had some lovely New Year’s Eves there. We would have a special opening hour until midnight so we could sing Auld Lang Syne.
“I would always make them some soup just before midnight, to sober them up a little before going home.”
Sadly Cyd passed away in the 1970s and Elsie continued to run the pub until the 1980s, though she is unsure of the exact dates now.
Deputy unit manager of Willows Care Home Irena Owens, said staff put on a party for the former landlady’s birthday.
She said: “She had family and friends come - she must have had about 20 come throughout the day – and we had entertainer Dave Grant sing some songs, it was lovely.”