Julia Pittaway was born in 1935 and despite being told by doctors that she would not live past the age of 20, she’s defied all the odds and has beaten every health issue that has stood in her way.
She has been lovingly cared for by her family for nearly all of her life, but recently went to live at Orchard House Care Home in the town around three years ago.
Julia’s niece, Jennifer Parsons, who she regards as more like a sister, and her husband John have been caring for Julia for 30 years.
Mrs Parsons told the Leader: “We feel like it is such an achievement that Julia has reached the age of 81.
“The doctors had told her parents, when she was little, that she wouldn’t see past 20 years old, but she has always been a fighter.
“She is a very loving, happy and bubbly woman.
“We believe because she has been able to have regularity and has seen loving family members taking care of her for all of her life – that this is the reason we think she has lived happily for all these years.”
Mrs Parsons added: “When her parents died some time ago, we made a promise to them that she would always be looked after by people who knew her.
“She gets all the care she needs now at Orchard House, that we could no longer give her, but we go over to see her all of the time, to let her know we are there for her.”
Jane Midgley, registered manager at Orchard House Care Home said: “It is an absolute pleasure to look after Julia.
“She is such a lovely person.”
A spokeswoman from the Down Syndrome Association said: “Thanks to medical advances and the care and love of those around them, the average life expectancy for people with Down syndrome is now between 50 and 60 years, with a small number of people living into their seventies and beyond.
“Everyone at the Down Syndrome Association wishes Julia a very happy birthday.”
l Julia was set to celebrate her 81st birthday with a party, surrounded by her close family and friends, but this has been postponed until a later date due to a turn of ill health.