FORMER students of a Swindon yoga teacher gathered to celebrate her 100th birthday.
Friends of Sandra Whitcher from Stratton met up for afternoon tea at the Stanton House Hotel to reminisce over 20 years of happy memories.
She taught yoga every month for 38 years and they were her students for two decades, only stopping when she was 97. And she enjoyed playing badminton until suffering a leg injury when she was 92.
An icing-frosted replica of Sandra doing the splits topped her pink birthday cake and matched the outfit worn by the Queen on a special birthday card from Her Majesty.
Sandra credits her friendships and her active lifestyle with helping her reach such a grand old age.
She said: “I could do the splits – no-one else in my classes could. All my life, I’ve played sports and spent so much time on the field and in the dance hall, I liked keeping fit and winning medals.
“These lovely ladies have helped me get this far. My memory is still as clear as when I was a child. I can remember the wonderful Christmas from when I was three.
“My school motto was ‘never give in’ and I never have.”
Born in south India, Sandra has travelled around the world over her long life.
After heading to boarding school in the Indian mountains for 15 years, she began work at 19 before deciding it was not for her and marrying her first husband.
The marriage to the high-ranking army officer did not last and she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Corp soon afterwards, heading to England in 1946.
After marrying her second husband in 1951 and moving to Zimbabwe and South Africa, she settled in Swindon because her son had joined Wiltshire Police.
She has three children, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
When her granddaughter Sarah-Jane Ljungstrom had a baby in 2017 and video-blogged the labour process live on Facebook, she and Sandra appeared on Lorraine Kelly’s’ morning chat show to talk about mothering.
Sandra is proud of her extensive family and celebrated her special centenary last week by going with them to Weston Super-mare for the weekend.
Her son Davro organised it and she said he did a wonderful job.
The afternoon tea with friends was the second party held to commemorate her 100 years on Earth.
But what was she like as a teacher?
Margaret Bradbury said: “She did as much yoga as she could in every lesson. She was strict but excellent.”