‘Blandford girl’ Molly celebrates 102nd birthday where she was born and bred
Caption: Molly and the Mayor
Caption: Molly and the Mayor
Molly, a resident at Colten Care’s Whitecliffe House, was born in 1916, in East Street, when the north Dorset town was filled with horses and carts, not the cars and buses of today.
One of seven children, she has lived in the town ever since, enduring two world wars, food rationing and a husband who was away in the Army for years on end. But she still regards herself as having had, “a very lucky life.”
Molly said, “Times were tight when I was a child and we were a big family, but my father had an allotment and so we always had lovely fresh fruit and veg.
“I used to follow behind him throwing the potatoes into a wheelbarrow as he dug them up.”
Molly and her sisters loved embroidery and one went on to become a dressmaker and another was a tailor. But Molly admits she was particularly keen on sewing as it enabled her to miss scripture at school.
“I had lovely friends and we liked a good prank,” she said.
“One day a French girl came to visit our school and my friend and I were told to teach her the rules of netball, so we taught her a game, but it certainly wasn’t netball – we were quite naughty really.”
Molly enjoyed sports including swimming and tennis and in later life would volunteer as a substitute games mistress at Blandford School.
But straight after leaving school at 14 she worked for a private grocery firm, where she was in charge of weighing the tea and packing butter.
She went on to meet her husband due to a girlfriend’s ‘dare’.
“We had been to the cinema and were walking across the town bridge when she dared me to say hello to a soldier who was standing there,” she explained.
“As I walked past I said, “Goodnight soldier” “and the next thing we knew he was walking alongside us”
That soldier was Yorkshireman Joseph Michael McGowan, a Sgt with the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, who was camping with his unit in tents in the New Forest.
After dropping off Molly’s friend, the soldier offered to walk Molly home, the two began to chat and the rest as they say, is history.
“He was a wonderful man and we had two children, Judith and Bryan,” said Molly.
“When he came out of the Army after the war we settled in Blandford, and he worked as an engineer for the local bus company and later for the council.”
Molly and her son Bryan, her grandson Robin and two grandaughters-in-law, Alison and Jay, were joined in the birthday celebrations by Blandford Mayor, Cllr Roger Carter, who presented the great-grandmother-of-six with flowers and a card.
She was also treated to a birthday ‘cake’ made from her favourite Chelsea Buns.
Asked whether she had any regrets in life, Molly said she has only one – that she never played rugby.
“It was out of the question. But how I longed to play it like my brother did,” she said.
“I had to make do with watching it. But the girls of today can play anything they like – and that’s how it should be.”
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