A woman who will soon celebrate her 100th birthday has looked back on raising a baby after losing her husband and her house in the Second World War.

Joyce Mahony, who was born in Hornsey, north London, on August 28, 1919, was always driven in her determination to better herself.

After attending Campsbourne School and later an advanced course school, Ms Mahony went to work as a secretary in 1934, saying: “I’ve always taken a job in which I can advance myself even more.”

After a few years in joining the Civil Service to type and silk screen print official documents, the Second World War began. She was transferred to the Ministry of Aircraft Production in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, to continue her role as a typist.

She said: “I remember walking halfway up the road in Turnpike Lane, bombs have gone off and bombers are all around you. You either just took into your head to dive in somewhere and hide or would make a run for it and hope you got home.

“It was something that just went on and on and on, it never seemed to stop. But I enjoyed the life, being with so many people of your own kind – and by that, I mean office people and typists.”

Despite the chaos of the war, Ms Mahony tried to live a comfortable life. In 1944, as the end of the war was approaching, she had a son named David with her first husband, Sid.

Her husband was called up to go to France in August 1944 and killed in November 1944, leaving her to care for a two-month-old baby alone. Just a month later, a rocket fell outside her house, destroying it completely.

Ms Mahony said: “It was a case of starting again, which was very difficult. The only money they gave you was how much they thought your home was, so they told me it was worth £45. That’s all I had.

“It was a case of going around and finding a room to sleep, with a baby as well. It was difficult.”

Many years later, she remarried with her husband Jack and gave birth to her daughter Jackie, now 57. They later moved to Muswell Hill, and to Watford in 1997.

Ms Mahony was the oldest among her three siblings. It seems longevity runs in her family’s genes, as even her mother died at 96. Two of her brothers died in their late 80 and 90s, and one is still alive.

When she was younger, she would keep active with tennis, netball and hockey and she kept herself busy as she grew older – learning to paint, knit, cook and garden.

She said: “I’m still fit, apart from my two legs, two arms, my eyes and my hearing, I’m fit as a fiddle!”

Mrs Mahony is looking forward to having her family gathered around her for a meal out on her 100th birthday, and her advice to anyone hoping for a long life is similar.

She said: “What I tell everybody is you need good food, we always had good meals. Enjoy yourself, but don’t do things like getting drunk. And work, you can’t have life without working. What you put into life, you reap.”