It’s a birth­day blanc­mange for Mar­ion, 102

Western Daily Press - - News - HEATHER PICKSTOCK heather.pickstock@reach­

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

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