by Sarah Hammett

Saturday March 27th dawned chilly but fine as we set about our final preparations to celebrate our neighbour Gwen Apsey’s 100th birthday.

Gwen has lived in Ehelburt Avenue for 60+ years and may be the first resident to achieve that age (does anyone know different?). Gwen was born and has always lived in Hampshire. Aged 18, she joined the Ordnance Survey, a job she thoroughly enjoyed throughout the 40 years she was there. As well as a long service award, Gwen was given the Imperial Service Medal, awarded by the Queen, for “meritorious service” making the maps needed by the Armed Forces in the Second World War.

We thought that a good way to mark the event would be a bench, with an appropriate plaque, placed on our green near her house, so Gwen’s neighbours and friends could sit on the bench and chat with her, watching the world go by. This would also be a nice facility for all to make use of.

We invited donations and were delighted to eventually raise £270 (our thanks to everyone who contributed) and received a big bundle of birthday cards for her!

Gwen had family visiting that morning, so we let them into the plans, and they kept her busy until the appointed time, when she came out of her house and saw her bench.

She was a little discombobulated by it all, but grateful for everyone’s efforts, and as luck would have it, her birthday card from the queen was delivered just then, which really delighted her.

I think we may have under-estimated how daunting Gwen would find all the attention that day, but she’s recovered now and we hope that the warmer weather will help her to make good use of the community bench that bears her name.

Comments are closed.