SHE WAS born in the year the Titanic sank with the loss of 1,500 lives during her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.

But 107-year-old Irene Taylor still lives in her own home - thanks to a community alarm system which enables her to summon help at the touch of a button.

The great-grandmother is now the oldest customer of Appletree Careline, which aims to help the elderly remain independent for as long as possible.

Irene, of New Milton, was born in Camden Town, London, in 1912, when King George V was on the throne and the average life expectancy was just 51.

During her childhood was knocked down and injured by a horse and cart.

Her first job involved repairing and reconditioning wire coils for transformers, electric motors and generators.

She later launched her own business, working as an agent for Exide batteries at a time when it was difficult to find people who were willing to be employed by a woman.

Irene went on to become president of the Bromley Chamber of Commerce.

She has two daughters, Valerie and Barbara, who are both in their eighties, as well as three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Although no longer able to pursue her love of dancing she still has her hair done at home by staff from a nearby salon.

Irene, one of Hampshire’s oldest residents, is the eldest of six siblings.

She has lived through the First World War, the Second World War and other major events which have changed the course of history.

One of her most vivid memories is watching fighter planes take off from Biggin Hill, near Bromley, during the summer of 1940.

The airfield is best known for its role during the Battle of Britain, when it served as one of the main bases protecting London and the south east from Nazi bombers.

Spitfires and Hurricanes based at Biggin Hill destroyed 1,400 enemy aircraft.

Recalling the planes taking off Irene said: “Sometimes the pilots would wave to us. Seems unbelievable now.”

Appletree Careline is run by New Forest District Council and is named after the authority’s headquarters - Appletree Court in Lyndhurst.

A council spokesman said: “Appletree Careline has more than 1,800 customers, eight of whom are aged 100 or more, and another 13 will turn 100 this year.

“Appletree Careline allows people to live independently, enjoying peace of mind knowing that help is at hand at the touch of a button.

“Fully-trained staff are available to answer calls 24 hours a day, all through the year.

“Customers are treated with dignity and respect, from initial contact to home installations and monitoring emergency calls.”