THOUGH Norah Gibson was already in her 80s when she moved to Hay-on-Wye, she got stuck in to a busy life spent painting, rambling and gardening as well as becoming a keen member of St Mary’s Church.

Now Norah, whose daughter Penny and son-in-law Ronald Moore are noted artists living in Herefordshire, is celebrating her 100th birthday at Waverley House in Leominster with banners, balloons, an impressive cake and of course a message from the Queen.

After a working life as a private medical secretary in Birmingham, Norah retired to Arthog near Dolgellau, where she returned to her love of painting as well as walking the spectacular countryside around the Mawddach estuary. Moving to Hay, she continued painting, joined a rambling club as well as a U3A group, and carried on driving until she was 96.

Her ancestry dates back to an enterprising family in Bristol where a modest cobbler built up a major business in shoe manufacture employing more than a thousand workers. One ancestor on her husband’s side of the family, Orlando Gibson, was sent to Australia in around 1900 and referred to as ‘the Black Sheep’. The large family home stood on Clifton Downs and it was fitting that a large 18th century painting of her forebears walking near the famous suspension bridge was eventually brought back to life by her son-in-law, a successful art restorer.

Penny was one of the first people to develop fabric collage in the 60s, her pictures resemble paintings but are made entirely from fabric. Her work has sold around the world as well as being widely featured in art galleries both here and abroad.