A CARD from the Queen lifted the spirits of a centenarian who had to spend her 100th birthday with a stay at Inverclyde Royal.

Nancy Gibson, who lived in Skelmorlie for many years, suffered a fall the week before her big day meaning she celebrated it in hospital.

But her spirits were lifted by a special message from Her Majesty and a visit from nearly 70 relatives who travelled to Greenock from as far afield as America, Kenya, France and Norway.

Nancy made a speedy recovery and is recuperating at home in Largs where she now lives.

Her nephew Andrew Gibson, who travelled from Norway to celebrate his aunt's milestone birthday, said: "We were all desperately worried about her but she was in good form. "The staff at Inverclyde Royal Hospital did a fantastic job."

Nancy, the last of five siblings, never married or had children and was joined for her big birthday on July 17 by her niece and five nephews, who live in France, the USA, Somerset, Norway, Kincardineshire and Kenya respectively, together with their families, including some from Cornwall, Wales and Ireland.

The centenarian lived in Cheshire before moving to Skelmorlie in 1969 with her sisters, later moving to Largs.

Her family say she has led a long and active life.

During World War Two, she served in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) and, having already become a keen driver, she was stationed at various RAF airfields.

Nancy would drive a vehicle with a 'follow me' sign guiding aircraft from squadrons of different nationalities to their designated places for repairs, refuelling and reloading - one of many roles she enjoyed very much.

She was always active, especially with gardening, badminton, golf and organisations such as the Historical Society and local churches.

Nancy also loved swimming and was a regular in the river off Skelmorlie during the summer months well into her 70s, thereafter driving herself to Gourock Outdoor Pool where she continued to swim into her mid-80s.

Her nephew Andrew said: "Despite all these activities, she jokes that her longevity must be due to the occasional small glass of whisky."

Nancy also credits her long and healthy life to 'always smiling'.