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Wisbech woman Gladys celebrates 100th birthday

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An inspirational woman who showed true patriotism by refusing to give up on her war service despite a terrible accident has turned 100.

Gladys Brown celebrated this milestone birthday with a special, socially distanced visit from her daughter Joan and grandson Paul before a cream tea with her friends at Rose Lodge Care Home in Wisbech.

Gladys was born on June 14, 1920, to Charles and Florence Watts. At the age of 16 she took over the responsibility of her five siblings following the death of her mother.

Gladys Brown celebrated her 100th birthday (37077469)
Gladys Brown celebrated her 100th birthday (37077469)

When she was 14, Gladys met her childhood sweetheart, Albert, who she married three years later.

In 1938 Albert joined the Kings Royal Rifles Corps (KRRC) and in 1939 Gladys also did her bit for the war effort by joining the Woman’s Land Army and undertook a posting on a farm in Cambridge.

Unfortunately after two years, Gladys was crushed by a horse and cart, suffering fractured ribs, and was forced to stop this work.

But she was still desperate to do her bit and joined the NAFFI based at RAF Stanmore, where she cooked meals for the service men and women.

In 1941, Gladys received the dreadful news that Albert was missing in action after being deployed from South Africa to Italy and then on to Crete.

It wasn’t until 1942 that she finally found out that he was still alive and had been taken as a prisoner of war and transported to Poland to work in Stalag VII A as a miner in the coal mines.

In 1945 the couple were reunited and it was in 1946 whist living in Edmonton that she was blessed with a daughter Joan.

Gladys went onto work as a cook in Thorns (Fergusons) canteen and was later promoted to cook manageress.

She was asked to also become private cook to the owner Sir Jules Thorn, along with visiting VIPs such as The Duke of Edinburgh, Sir Douglas Bader and Sir David Frost.

After working for Thorns for over 35 years, Gladys embarked on a well-earned retirement. She and Albert moved from Edmonton to Upwell.

They embraced their new lives in the country and enjoyed being part of the community, even taking up bowls and joining the local team.

Unfortunately, Albert passed away in 1997 and she began a new chapter in her life. Staying in the bungalow she had lived in since she retired with Albert, Joan enjoyed going on day trips with her close friends and spending time with family up until she made the decision in 2010 to become a resident of Rose Lodge Care Home.

Gladys has two grandchildren Paul and Mark, along with five great-grandchildren.

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