Lilian celebrates her 104th birthday!

L Wildsmith 1Plucky Lilian Wildsmith celebrated her 104th birthday with a surprise visit from one the best tenors in the business.

Tony St John, who sang the original ‘Just one Cornetto’ ice cream song on the advert set in Venice, serenaded the pensioner in front of her friends and family.

Tony, who performed with Placido Domingo in a Covent Garden production of Tosca and now performs a tribute act to the great Luciano Pavarotti, made a guest appearance at Eothen in Gosforth.

And the great grandmother blew out her candles as Tony sang happy birthday – opera style.

L Wildsmith 2

Lilian Wildsmith celebrating her 104th birthday at Eothen residential home in Gosforth

“Am I really 104? Am I really that age? I didn’t think I was that old,” she said.

Lilan puts her long living down to having a good life.

“I have reached this age because of good living and behaving myself. I’ve worked hard and I have been happy,” she added.

“I’ve always wanted to ride a bike but never did. I’m too lazy to learn now.”

Lilian was born in Jarrow, South Tyneside, in 1911. She went to Ellison Street School and left at 14 to start an office job. But her head for figures soon saw her work her way into accounts.

She married Leslie at the age of 30 and had son Paul. They moved to Yorkshire but tragedy struck when Paul was diagnosed with motor neurone disease and died in October 2000 – 19 months after Leslie, who died in March 1999 at the age of 92.

Paul was well known in the cycling world. He was a time trialist and won a national hill climb title in the 1960s.

Paul’s second wife Janis, 56, of Heddon-on-the-Wall, Northumberland, said: “When Lilian found out about Paul having MND she bought a bungalow in Fenham in Newcastle without even seeing it and moved back here.

“She was a great support to Paul and me. Her strong Christian faith carried her through her trauma and she remained very strong.”

L Wildsmith 3

Lilian with husband Leslie and son Paul

Tony got emotions flowing when he sang Nessun dorma – a Pavarotti classic.

Lilian was given a bouquet of flowers from her house-mates and a birthday cake. They then tucked into a buffet as the party continued.

Tony, 50, of Newcastle, has performed across the world including; Las Vegas, New York, Verona, Denmark, Paris, Gibraltar and Spain.

Tony, who also teaches singing, said: “I often sing at residential homes. Singing is very therapeutic for me and the residents. It was a pleasure to sing for Lilian on her 104th birthday.”

Lilian added: “I feel a day over 21. I didn’t know we were having a party, it was a total surprise and the singing was lovely.”