To mark International Women’s Day on Wednesday 8 March, Royal Star & Garter is focussing on three amazing residents in its Homes.
This year, the charity is looking at the remarkable lives of the partners of servicemen, who now live in Royal Star & Garter’s three Homes.
The partners of Armed Forces personnel often make great personal sacrifices themselves, following their loved ones across the world with a young family, or bearing long periods of separation while simultaneously raising children and earning a living.
Felicia was born in British Guiana, a British colony which is now Guyana, and spent the early part of her life living in a rural part of the country.
Her life changed when she married Earnest in 1951. He had joined the RAF in 1944 when recruiters came to the South American country, and soon after their marriage, Felicia joined her husband in West Germany where he was serving. They had two children, and when they moved next to the north of England, two more followed.
Felicia is now living with dementia and is a resident at Royal Star & Garter in High Wycombe.
Bet was old enough to join the military during WWII, but her mother’s poor health meant she stayed at home to care for her, sacrificing the chance to serve in the Armed Forces. Nonetheless, Bet was determined to play her part in another way. She worked in the accounts department of a munitions factory, which produced vital products for the war effort, such as parachutes. Recalling enemy air attacks during the War, Bet said: “I had one or two near misses, the munitions factory was hit but I wasn’t in that part when it was struck. When you look back you think about how frightening it all was.”
After the War, Bet worked in the accounts section at Twickenham Film Studios, where she would often rub shoulders with Hollywood A-listers. Among them was Elizabeth Taylor. Bet recalled: “We’d all eat together in the canteen, it was great fun. She was truly beautiful and a lovely person too.”
Sue trained as a teacher during WWII and qualified soon after the conflict finished. She started teaching in 1946, and in a career that would span 35 years, she became a headteacher at an infants’ school in the Midlands.
During that time, she taught many hundreds of children. Sue said: “I enjoyed being a teacher. Children are receptive and respond quickly. It’s a very important profession and comes with a lot of responsibility.”
Sue lives at Royal Star & Garter in Solihull with her husband Harry, who served in the Navy during WWII.