Last Saturday marked a special centenary party for Catherine Spiess, former secretary to the retired Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, and a resident at Fremantle Trust nursing home, Lent Rise House in Burnham.
Catherine was joined by her family, friends and staff at Lent Rise for a party to mark her hundredth birthday, complete with a cake and honorary telegram from the Queen.
Born in Southminster, Essex, Catherine joined the family greengrocer business and even learnt to drive a lorry to complete the deliveries in the area in her younger days. After a spell as manageress of a family wool shop, Catherine went on to work as a secretary in support of Bishop of Southwark, Mervyn Stockwood.
Catherine’s career highlights include working with Michael Ramsey, the retired Archbishop of Canterbury, typing his letters from dictation and writing up the manuscript from his book “The Holy Spirit” in the preface of which she is mentioned.
In 1974 she became a housekeeper for Rector Basil Cornish, who was later Canon of Chelmsford Cathedral. At 75 Catherine retired and settled in Leominster, where she volunteered for the National Trust and also began writing the first of 12 novels and an autobiography.
Grandmother of eight and great-grandmother of ten, Catherine then moved to Lent Rise in October 2012 and is a much-loved resident. She enjoys debating and discussion and is a regular attendee at residents’ meetings to talk about future activity plans. Catherine really enjoys going to the theatre and seeing the Christmas shows.
Commenting on the celebration, Valerie Critchlow, activities coordinator at Lent Rise House, said: “Saturday’s celebrations marked a very special occasion for Catherine and we were honoured to be part of that. As a lady with a story to tell it was a lovely opportunity to reflect on the last 100 years and all the amazing things that have happened in that time.”
Lent Rise House is a purpose-built nursing home and part of The Fremantle Trust, a local charity and care provider that operates throughout Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Barnet, Harrow and Hertfordshire. The home provides high levels of care for people with nursing needs both with and without dementia. Independence and individuality are encouraged, and residents can often carry on with their own routines and ways of living.