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Mary shares memories of her life as she celebrates 101st birthday

PUBLISHED: 17:31 28 October 2014 | UPDATED: 17:31 28 October 2014

Mary Biggs celebrates her 101st birthday with the other four generations of her family. From left, back, great granddaughter, Emily Trendell, 28; granddaughter Amanda Armishaw; and great granddaughter Clare Fairy, 31. Front row, great great grandson, Jacob Woods, 9; daughter-in-law Ann Biggs; Mary; son, David Biggs and great grandson Joshua Trendell, 23. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mary Biggs celebrates her 101st birthday with the other four generations of her family. From left, back, great granddaughter, Emily Trendell, 28; granddaughter Amanda Armishaw; and great granddaughter Clare Fairy, 31. Front row, great great grandson, Jacob Woods, 9; daughter-in-law Ann Biggs; Mary; son, David Biggs and great grandson Joshua Trendell, 23. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2014

A lot has happened during the lifetime of Mary Biggs who recently celebrated her 101st birthday.

She vividly remembers as a 26-years-old hearing Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain declare war on Germany on September 3 1939- an event that had a big effect on her life.

Mary Biggs and her husband, John Henry Biggs, when he retired in 1974. Picture: submittedMary Biggs and her husband, John Henry Biggs, when he retired in 1974. Picture: submitted

The former childminder was born in Airmyn in East Yorkshire in 1913 and was the oldest of four children.

After meeting her husband, John Henry Bigss, as a 16-year-old, the couple married in 1933 and enjoyed a happy marriage until the start of the war; when her husband joined the Eighth Army and fought in the North African and Italian campaigns.

But not long into the mission Mr Biggs was captured and shipped to Italy where he was held as a prisoner of war and was declared missing and believed dead for two years.

Mrs Biggs said: “My husband was a driver in the desert in Libya. He served from 1940 until the end of the war.

“When he was missing the Red Cross tried to help me trace him. It was a horrible time but I had just had a child-I had to get on with it.”

Mr Biggs escaped and joined the partisans making their way to safety in France- and was awarded the military medal for his actions.

And while her husband was off at war, Mrs Biggs-who has one son, 77-year-old David-was helping evacuees and provided a home for a mother, Florence and her three-week-old baby, Barbara.

“I took in a mother and baby bombed out of London. We’ve kept in touch and I have been to Canada to see Barbara. I did it because I had the pram and cot because of David.

“During the war we were so short of everything, we just helped one another.”

After her husband died in 1992, Mrs Biggs moved to Norfolk to be near her son and moved into the sheltered accommodation facility Barley Court in Costessey.

She now enjoys spending her time reading, sewing and “nodding off” and loves it when her two grandchildren and five great grandchildren visit. She was thrilled with her birthday meal which saw most of her close family come together to celebrate her remarkable life.

“I’m glad to be able to see my great grandchildren and family. They all help with my shopping every week. My family mean the world to me and I love them all.”

And what does her son David think is his mother’s secret to living such a long life after suffering so many hardships?

“She goes to church every Sunday, she’s a strong Baptist. She has an injection every three months for anaemia, her eyesight and hearing are going a bit but other than that she is in good health. She is amazing.”

Have you got a story to tell us? Email rebecca.murphy@archant.co.uk

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