Re­mark­able Kath­leen cel­e­brates her 100th birth­day

Loughborough Echo - - FRONT PAGE -

KATH­LEEN Fox, who has lived a re­mark­able life, has just cel­e­brated her 100th birth­day.

Here, daugh­ter Mary Hurt, tells Kath­leen’s story...

KATH­LEEN Fox has re­cently cel­e­brated her 100th birth­day en­joy­ing sev­eral very happy events, both at her daugh­ter’s house with fam­ily mem­bers and at Mar­wood Res­i­den­tial Home, Shep­shed, where she now lives.

Kath­leen for­merly lived in Bel­ton but is orig­i­nally from Manch­ester.

She moved to Lough­bor­ough in 1976 to be near her daugh­ter and her grow­ing fam­ily.

Dur­ing her long and event­ful life Kath­leen can re­flect on many years of ser­vice, both to her coun­try and to her lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

In her early 20s she acted as a vol­un­teer nurse with the St John Am­bu­lance, car­ing for the in­jured dur­ing the blitz in Manch­ester. Sub­se­quently she joined the WAAF and was pro­moted to Sergeant.

Her se­cret and vi­tal work as a watch keeper with the RAF Pathfind­ers in­volved her los­ing many friends who were pi­lots and crew of the bombers, fly­ing nightly in raids over Ger­many.

She also flew twice, se­cretly, in Lan­caster bombers, hav­ing per­suaded the pi­lots to take her up on prac­tice flights dur­ing the day.

Af­ter cor­re­spond­ing with a pris­oner of war for sev­eral years, she mar­ried him in 1945 and had three chil­dren.

Af­ter a se­ri­ous ill­ness in her 40s Kath­leen be­came a devo­tee of nat­u­ral heal­ing and started a lo­cal branch of the Na­ture Cure So­ci­ety of Great Bri­tain.

The group was hugely suc­cess­ful. Run in her own home, meet­ings in­volved spe­cial­ist talks and dis­cus­sions, whole food sup­pers, pro­vided by Kath­leen and her friends and large numbers of at­ten­dees.

Kath­leen or­gan­ised many other events with this group, in­clud­ing hol­i­days to the Lake District, where mem­bers learned the art of veg­e­tar­ian cook­ery.

One of Kath­leen’s spe­cial mem­o­ries is of 1961 when Yuri Ga­garin, the first man in space and her hero, vis­ited the city of Manch­ester.

The whole city turned out to greet him along the route, which had been printed in the Manch­ester Even­ing News.

Kath­leen, de­ter­mined to see him up close and show her ad­mi­ra­tion for his mo­men­tous achieve­ment, found a quiet spot where, by chance, she was com­pletely alone.

As the mo­tor­cade ap­proached with Yuri stand­ing in the open topped Bent­ley, Kath­leen ran along­side, cheer­ing and throw­ing kisses to him. To her ut­ter de­light Yuri smiled charm­ingly and blew sev­eral kisses just for her.

Her day was com­plete, her hero per­son­ally ac­knowl­edged and her mis­sion ac­com­plished!

This mem­ory is still as clear and ex­cit­ing af­ter 57 years.

Af­ter her move to Lough­bor­ough Kath­leen be­came a vol­un­teer for the Homes­tart scheme, run from John Storer House.

She worked with a nonEnglish speak­ing Bangladeshi fam­ily for many years, teach­ing them English and help­ing them to adapt to their new way of life.

She was highly re­garded by the fam­ily and has very fond mem­o­ries of these times.

By the time she left the fam­ily they had a com­fort­able home and the chil­dren were es­tab­lished at lo­cal schools; they have sub­se­quently done well in their ca­reers, one of them ob­tain­ing a de­gree.

Dur­ing this time Kath­leen, a di­vorcee, met and mar­ried Frank, a wid­ower who had, for many years, been a Spe­cial Con­sta­ble in Mel­ton Mow­bray.

Through her con­nec­tion with John Storer House, Kath­leen and Frank were ap­proached to start up a Vic­tim Sup­port Scheme lo­cally.

This proved a great suc­cess and af­ter Frank had a stroke, Kath­leen con­tin­ued to or­gan­ise the scheme in all its as­pects, train­ing vol­un­teers, coun­selling vic­tims of crime, run­ning the of­fice and or­gan­is­ing meet­ings of the com­mit­tee for many years un­til she re­tired.

Not only this, but she took driv­ing lessons and passed her test at the age of 72!

Kath­leen has al­ways en­joyed writ­ing and has had many of her ar­ti­cles printed in var­i­ous publi­ca­tions; she has read one of her sto­ries on Ra­dio 4 Woman’s Hour, has read her ma­te­rial on Ra­dio Le­ices­ter and has writ­ten many sto­ries from her long life for her fam­ily.

Her rem­i­nis­cence of a child­hood fam­ily hol­i­day in Black­pool was printed in the lo­cal pa­per there and she was in­vited by the May­oress of the town to visit her at the Black­pool Town Hall.

A chauf­feur was sent to her ho­tel and Kath­leen was driven in style to meet the Lady Mayor. This event was recorded in the lo­cal news­pa­per along­side Kath­leen’s story.

At the age of 90 she bought a com­puter and, with the help of her son in law, learned to e-mail, look up in­for­ma­tion, send e-greetings, watch YouTube videos of her favourite singers and gen­er­ally revel in be­ing a part of the tech­nol­ogy age, rather than be­ing a by­stander.

Kath­leen is proud to cel­e­brate her 100th birth­day along with the Royal Air Force, es­tab­lished also in

1918.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the RAF As­so­ci­a­tion and the Bri­tish Le­gion vis­ited Kath­leen on her birth­day to present her with a gift and to ac­knowl­edge her birth­day and her con­tri­bu­tion to the de­fend­ing forces dur­ing World War Two.

She also re­ceived a card from the Queen, with which she was very pleased.

Her fam­ily are ex­tremely proud of Kath­leen for her many achieve­ments and ac­com­plish­ments dur­ing her long life and for her dig­nity in old age.

Kath­leen still has a zest for life, a cu­rios­ity about what is hap­pen­ing in the world and a car­ing and thought­ful at­ti­tude to­wards oth­ers.

The fam­ily have de­clared her of­fi­cially as a Na­tional Trea­sure!

Kath­leen Fox who has just turned 100 with daugh­ter Mary Hurt.

Kath­leen Fox with her two grand­sons, Dan and Sam, Sam’s part­ner Michelle and the two great grand­chil­dren, Louie and Eris.

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