It’s a birthday blancmange for Marion, 102
AGRANDMOTHER who used to make knickers out of parachute silk in her lunch hour while working for the War Office has celebrated her 102nd birthday.
Marion Warren marked her special day with two parties at the Westbury Care Home in Westbury-onTrym, Bristol.
One was with family and friends and the other with youngsters from the Acorns & Oaks playgroup, which visits the home each Wednesday.
Marion was born in Birmingham on October 8, 1916. Her mum – also called Marion – was a diamond polisher and her dad Albert worked as a silversmith.
Marion, who lived in the Brookfields area of the city, left school at 14 and started a job as a secretary.
She was 15 when she first saw her future husband Ernest, who was just 13 and driving a donkey and cart around where she lived, selling meat for his family butcher’s business.
Daughter Celia said: “Mum tells me that she looked at this boy driving the donkey and cart and thought ‘he looks like a nice boy’. Both families knew each other, so they started to get to know each other and began courting.”
Ernest was called up in the Second World War to serve in the Royal Engineers as a bomb disposal expert, working in North Africa, Italy and France.
Marion worked as a secretary in the War Office in London for the Secretary of State for War, Sir James Grigg. And it was there that she spent her lunchtime making underwear from parachute silk.
“It was something she
really enjoyed doing,” said Celia. “All the secretaries used to make underwear in their lunch hours if they could get their hands on some parachute silk.”
After the war, the couple married at Birmingham Register Office. Ernest returned to the family butcher’s business and the couple had two children – Celia and Ann.
In the 1960s, the couple left Birmingham and bought a hill farm on the edge of Exmoor, where they kept sheep and cattle. The couple retired and moved to Taunton, where Marion kept herself busy with upholstery and gardening.
After Ernest died in 2006, Marion stayed in Taunton for four years until moving to Westbury Nursing Home eight years ago.
At her party with the playgroup, Marion insisted on having a blancmange made – a treat she used to enjoy at her own birthday parties when she was a child.
“In her day you used to have jelly and ice cream at your birthday party,” said Celia. “And if you were really lucky, you would get a blancmange.
“Mum wanted to have a blancmange to share with the youngsters to show what her birthdays were like as a child. It was a chocolate blancmange rabbit with raisins for eyes and green jelly as grass.”
Marion has three grandsons and one great-granddaughter who lives in America and with whom she ‘video chats’ regularly.
Celia said: “Mum is a very sweet, kind and gentle lady. She is very bright and unassuming.”
And what does Marion say is the secret to a long and happy life?
“It’s important to always keep your mind busy,” she said.
Marion Warren celebrates her big day