... still has a golden smile
Above is Margaret Ashbrook as a young landgirl during the Second World War and below is her with her two daughters and grandsons as she celebrated her 100th birthday on March 31.
One of Denham’s oldest residents, Mrs Ashbrook, has lived in the heart of Denham Village, for 65 years.
In 2008 she received the government badge of honour for her services to the Women’s Land Army (WLA). During the Second World War, from 1942-1946, she worked as a land-girl in East Sussex. She milked cows, tended pigs and chickens, made hay and drove the pony cart to collect oats from the fields for threshing.
Margaret was employed at Great Dixter, near Rye in East Sussex. For the earlier part of the war she also manned the earlywarning post at Dixter.
In 1941 she met Jay Ashbrook, who was with the US Army and whose friend Janey Bennett, in his home town of Madison, Wisconsin, was Margaret’s cousin. In 1948 Jay and Margaret were married in London and lived there for a few years. In 1952, they bought a listed building in Denham where they brought up their two children Sue (born 1950) and Kate (1955). From then, until Jay’s death in 2002, they played an active part in village life.
Margaret’s interests included gardening, art and needlepoint. For many years, she worked as a volunteer at the National Trust’s textile-conservation workroom at Hughenden Manor, restoring fabrics for display in National Trust properties.
Daughter Kate said: “We are delighted that Mum has reached this great age and is still able to enjoy life. We are grateful to the many friends and helpers who support her and enable her to live at home.”
Sue now lives in Boston, Massachusetts, where she teaches art history at Lesley University College of Art and Design. Kate runs the national Open Spaces Society based in Henleyon-Thames, campaigning for people’s rights to enjoy the countryside, and is the Ramblers’ footpath secretary for Bucks.
Mrs Ashbrook’s grandsons (Sue’s sons) Ben and Peter live in the US and crossed the Atlantic with Sue to help celebrate her centenary.