The best birthday present - Letchworth veteran to mark her 100th after beating COVID-19
- Credit: Peter Green
A hardy Letchworth woman, who lived through the Second World War and recently beat COVID-19, will celebrate a special birthday milestone this week.
Pearl 'Pat' Green, a resident at Garden City Court Care Home, Letchworth, will turn 100 on Thursday, March 18 - despite the fact she caught coronavirus just weeks ago.
In February, Pat was forced to self-isolate for 10 days after testing positive for COVID-19. Her son, Peter, says she was unwell, but more than anything hated the feeling of isolation as she is such a "sociable person".
Today, Pat has beaten off the virus, and is back to reasonable health. She even received a handwritten note from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer earlier this year.
Sir Keir's note read: "Dear Pat, I am so sorry to hear of your COVID diagnosis.
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"I send my very best wishes to you for a full and swift recovery. Happy 100th birthday!"
Peter, her son, added: "Unfortunately, she has gone through the last year being unable to see her family and friends because of COVID-19 restrictions.
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"Of course it is hard for everyone but it has been particularly tough for her at this stage of her life.
"We have had window visits and for a short period during the summer, garden visits, but for many months now contact with her has been restricted to FaceTime."
Pat was born in London in 1921, moving to Letchworth with her family in the mid-1920s. They lived first at Campers Avenue, before moving to Baldock Road.
One of nine, Pat attended Westbury School before working in Nott's bakery where her father was master baker.
But, life in a quiet town was not for Pat, and at 17 she joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force in 1938 - quickly rising up corporal rank.
She would drive petrol tankers and chauffeured officers during the Second World War, including Sir Arthur 'Bomber' Harris.
As a young woman, she would often be instructed on what to do or how to drive, but her go to response was: "You do your job, and I'll do mine."
Her actions during the war saw her 'mentioned in dispatches', an official recommendation by a superior officer indicating "gallant or meritorious action" in the face of the enemy.
Although she will turn 100 later this week, Pat could be described as a 'modern woman', according to her son.
"One wonders what she might have been able to achieve if she was born 50 years later," Peter said.
"She shows a remarkable degree of tolerance and understanding of the younger members of the family and for how society has moved forward.
"She is a champion of modern causes, minority, women's and LGBQT+ rights.
"We cannot forget that when she was born, women under the age of 30 were not entitled to vote, the Prime Minister was Lloyd George and the average wage for a man was £204 per annum and for a woman £99 or £1.90 per week."
After the war, Pat remained in service until 1948, when she married Jock, an RAF Chief Technician. From 1950 to 1953, the pair were stationed in Egypt at the height of the Suez Canal Crisis.
In 1956, now with two young children, Pat decided that the family needed a more settled life and so she and Jock returned to Letchworth, where she has lived ever since.
In 1958 they were given a house on the Grange, where she very happily raised her family.
However, Pat did not really enjoy being a stay-at-home mum and soon began working full time, her main role from the 1960s onwards being Bought Ledger clerk, then supervisor and finally manager at ICL House.
She would refuse retirement in 1981, working for a further decade until she turned 70. During her time at ICL, she became union rep for APEX, which was at the heart of campaigning for equal pay for all genders.
Pat has since had 30 years of happy retirement.
Sadly, she was widowed in 2004 and in 2009 she moved into supported living at Langleigh, Danescroft.
Throughout her life she has enjoyed painting and spending quality time with her friends, initially at the Grange School and then at Langleigh. She moved into Garden City Court Care Home in 2018.
To this day she continues reading the ’i’ paper keeping up to date with the news and politics, despite having macular degeneration.