The matriarch of Norfolk family, who was devoted to her garden, has died at the age of 106.

Gertrude Raven, of Cawston, shared a birthday with Queen Victoria and was born just 15 years after the death of the celebrated monarch.

Speaking ahead of her 103rd birthday in 2019, Mrs Raven said her long and healthy life was down to a strong relationship with the almighty, surrounding herself with the right people, and a tot of whisky every night before bed. 

At the time she said: “I'm blessed in every way. It's a wonderful life.”

Eastern Daily Press: Gertrude Raven, of Cawston, loved her garden - Picture: Denise BradleyGertrude Raven, of Cawston, loved her garden - Picture: Denise Bradley (Image: Newsquest)

Gertrude Le-Neve was born on May 24, 1916, and while she spent the last 40 years living in the village of Cawston, she was born and bred in Norwich. 

Her family lived in Barrack Street when she was growing up and her father served in both the Boer War and the First World War.

Her family also lived in one of the first council houses in Norwich, on Bowthorpe Road. 

READ MORE: Do you know how old Norwich's Start-rite Shoes is?

READ MORE: Parents and children flocking to pop-up Start-Rite shoe shop

Mrs Raven went to Wensum View school during the 1920s where at times she was one of 48 children in a class with just one teacher to look after them all.

Decades later, she was still able to recall all of her teachers’ names. 

She left school when she was 14 and began working on the machines at the city’s old Start-Rite shoes factory, earning just “three or four shillings a week”.

Eastern Daily Press: Gertrude Raven (centre) pictured with some of her family on her 105th birthday - Picture: Denise BradleyGertrude Raven (centre) pictured with some of her family on her 105th birthday - Picture: Denise Bradley (Image: Newsquest)

During this time, she would ride the open-top tram to work and if the bottom was full, she would be forced to go up to the top even in snow or heavy wind.   

After she and her husband James 'Jim' Raven married in 1936, they moved to a farm near Southwold, where he looked after cows. 

Later they lived in Little Plumstead and ran a smallholding, while Mrs Raven also worked as a nurse looking after the elderly at St Andrew's. For several years, they worked together as support staff at Hellesdon Hospital. 

After settling in Cawston, they ran The Bell Inn pub from 1965 to 1972, before retiring.

Eastern Daily Press: Gertrude Raven loved her garden - Picture: Denise BradleyGertrude Raven loved her garden - Picture: Denise Bradley (Image: Newsquest)

They had two sons, James and Peter, and their ever-growing extended family grew to include dozens of grandchildren, great, great-great, and great-great-great-grandchildren, who frequently visited her. 

The couple were married for almost half a century before Mr Raven died in 1982. 

Mrs Raven was an avid Norwich City supporter and had been especially fond of Wes Hoolahan. Her main hobby was tending to her garden and making things grow there. 

READ MORE: Grandfather who 'quietly' dedicated his life to Norwich suburb dies aged 86

READ MORE: Tribute to landlord’s daughter who represented her village on radio

Her son James said they were all in awe of the family matriarch, who had a better memory about many more things than he did. 

He added: “She was a hard worker. I never knew a woman who worked harder than her. There was nothing she couldn’t do. 

“When her and dad lived in Little Plumstead, people would come from miles around to buy their vegetables. My dad could get his potatoes ready two weeks before everyone else, and they were lovely. 

“She was out in her garden most days and I’m sure her garden is what kept her going all these years. 

“Without a doubt, she was 'the governor'.”

Eastern Daily Press: Gertrude Raven - Picture: Denise BradleyGertrude Raven - Picture: Denise Bradley (Image: Newsquest)Mrs Raven died on the morning of Tuesday, February 14, following a short stay at Engelhard Lodge Care Home in Cawston. 

James added: “I kept asking her when she was coming home, and she told me she was happy to stay put where she was.

“Even though she was only there a short while, she had a lovely time. The staff were friendly, she had lovely meals. They really loved having her there too. They told us she was always saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. 

“When she passed away, all of the staff came to give her a kiss on the cheek goodbye."

  • To pay tribute to a loved one, email 
  • To read all obituaries and tributes join the Facebook group Norfolk's Loved & Lost