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All I want is an oven to cook for myself, says Finsbury 103-year-old

Ivy Watts says her cooker was removed from her council-owned flat after it was deemed dangerous

15 July, 2019 — By Emily Finch

Ivy Watts with her friend and neighbour, Lennox Charles

A 103-year-old will be reunited with her cooker in time for her birthday so she can bake a cake to share with her neighbours.

Ivy Watts, who lives in the Finsbury Estate, says her cooker was removed from her council-owned flat after it was deemed dangerous three weeks ago.

She was told she would need to wait until a full kitchen refurb for a new cooker and was not told when works would begin.

“I’m 103, I don’t want a new kitchen I just want a cooker so I can make patties, roasts, make cakes and things like that. I’m not going to be here forever.

I want to look after myself and I want to do my own baking for my birthday,” said Ms Watts, who was born in the same year as the Gallipoli campaign in 1915.

The hotplate provided by the council while kitchen works are carried out

Her 104th is on the 26th of this month. Her neighbour and friend Lennox Charles backed her requests for a new cooker this week.

“It’s not right she’s not given one straight away. She is strong and good and must be honoured and respected,” he said.

“The council have to look out for these senior folks. They’ve graced us. We have to look after them. She needs to do her cooking. She’s accustomed to this.”

After the Tribune requested a comment on when Ms Watts would get her cooker, a council spokesman said: “Work is now underway, and although time is a bit tight, we hope the new cooker will be in place for Ms Watts’ birthday.”

Ms Watts has lived in the same flat since 1979, after moving from Tottenham. She worked as a seamstress making coats in Exmouth Market, and before that was a cook after coming to the UK from Guyana in 1962.

She says her long life is down to “keeping active and looking after myself”, and Ms Watts still enjoys shopping and keeping up with the latest fashions.

The eldest of six siblings, she took on responsibility for looking after her family when her mother died aged 45.

“I never let the police step foot in my door,” she said. An Islington spokesman said: “We take the wellbeing of all our residents extremely seriously, and had to disconnect the old cooker because it was not safe and posed a serious risk to Ms Watts and other tenants.

We also had to cap the gas supply and make it safe, and provided an electric hotplate as a temporary way to prepare food.

“We’re now repairing, decorating and repainting the kitchen worktops, cabinets, doors and drawers. Gas supply will be restored and we will install a new gas cooker.”

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