A great-grandmother who served in the Women's Royal Naval Service during the blitz has celebrated her 100th birthday.

Brenda Henson was delighted to received her congratulatory letter from the Queen on Wednesday (September 19) at her retirement complex home at Mill Vale Lodge, in Guithavon Street, Witham.

Born in 1918, Mrs Henson grew up in Great Oakley, where she lived with her parents on a farm.

Her first career was as a silver server for at civic events and at a private estate in the area.

She took these skills into her career in the Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS), where she played an important role during the Second World War.

Braintree and Witham Times:

Brenda Henson celebrating her 100th birthday. Pictured with son Les Henson, wife Deidre, granddaughter Claire Ray and great-grandson Ethan

Son Les Henson, 66, said: "She was stationed at Harwich on a ship there for a while, then she went to London where she was during the blitz.

"She served the captain of their base and had eight or ten girls working under her.

"She was a big part of the war effort and her time with WRNS was a big part of her life."

After the war ended, she spent another six years serving on a ship off the coast of Portsmouth.

Soon after, she returned to Essex where she met her late husband Charles Frederick Henson - better known as Eric.

The couple moved to St Osyth where they lived for many years.

Her son, who lives in Southend, said: "My grandfather was a greengrocer and owned two shops there - one in the village and one on the beach in the summer.

"My mum ran the shop in the village and my dad ran the one on the beach.

"She was very well known around the area.

"Eventually they sold the shop but still lived in the village."

Mrs Henson is very close to her family and has two grandchildren, Claire and Darren, and two great-grandchildren, Ethan and Hettie.

Mr Henson said: "She is very determined and strong willed.

"She knows what she wants and she would never admit she was wrong.

"Mentally she is 90 per cent her old self but her physical health isn't as good.

"But she is so strong willed she manages to get about on her own still.

"I lost my father when I was 29, 38 years ago nearly, and we have been looking after each other since.

"She loves remembering her time in WRNS and is very proud of it.

"She tells me before she joined she would start crying if someone said boo to her, but it made her very strong."