Baffins' Norma Waldren celebrates 100th birthday

Portsmouth born and bred, independent Norma Waldren enjoyed a party with family, friends and neighbours to celebrate her 100th birthday.

By Hollie Busby
Tuesday, 10th May 2022, 10:01 am

Joined by her sons and good friends at her home in Baffins, Norma marked the occasion with a huge birthday cake. She was once captain of the Daley’s hockey team in Portsmouth, so this was embellished on the cake.

A few days before, Norma enjoyed a bigger celebration to which her grandchildren and great-grandchildren went too.

On turning 100, Norma says: ‘I feel the same. I still go on the laptop and play solitaire and I play all the old songs on the piano. I still like to do everything myself because it’s what keeps you going.’

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Norma Waldren from Baffins, celebrated her 100th birthday on Tuesday, April 26 at her home. Picture: Sarah Standing (260422-2481)

Born on April 26, 1922, in New Road, Portsmouth, Norma grew up with her parents Doris and Harry Olden alongside sister Mary before moving to Baffins aged two.

She has fond memories of growing up in Portsmouth, where she enjoyed cycling, swimming, cricket and tennis as well as being an active member of HMS Foudroyant where she was a sea ranger in her youth.

She says: ‘The Foudroyant is still going. The girls used to sleep on the Foudroyant and the boys used to sleep on the Implacable. You’d go away for a weekend and do sailing and rowing.

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Norma Waldren from Baffins, celebrated her 100th birthday on Tuesday, April 26 at her home. Pictured is: Norma Waldren with her husband Daniel on their wedding day on September 27, 1941.

When we were kids we used to cycle to Farnham,’ she says. ‘But it was a long way. I was active because we didn’t have buses or anything. ‘You’d have a policeman standing halfway up the bridge in the evening.’

On leaving Daley’s School in Portsmouth when she was 17, Norma got her first job in the war office after passing her civil service exam.

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The age to sit the exam was then dropped to 16 as the threat of the Second World War came in 1939.

Norma Waldren from Baffins, celebrated her 100th birthday on Tuesday, April 26 at her home. Picture: Sarah Standing (260422-2469)

‘The war broke out in the September and I was in London,’ she explains. On that Friday I was all on my own in a hostel. It was scary,’ she says.

Norma met her future husband, Daniel, a submarine engineer, a year before they started courting.

‘My husband was there because it was the Nelson he was on. He was on leave. I met him from then on and he came up to London to see me and that was it.

‘I’d come home to see my father,’ she explains. ‘I met my husband the year before and we fell in love.

Norma Waldren from Baffins, celebrated her 100th birthday on Tuesday, April 26 at her home. Pictured is: (third from right) Norma Waldren with her friends and family (l-r) Norma's son Ralph Waldren, neighbours Jane Tofts, Yvonne Church, Mary Pennery and good friends Pauline and Andrew Hewitt. Picture: Sarah Standing (260422-2498)

‘We got the coupons and I bought my wedding dress and veil and I took it down to the air raid shelter. I got this telegram [from Danny] and it said, “love you more than ever, let's get married”.’

The couple tied the knot at St Mary’s Church on September 27, 1941, and they stayed in Baffins ever since.

Daniel worked as an engineer on the submarines at Fort Blockhouse in Gosport and the pair had a ‘very happy’ life together . They were married for almost 70 years. Daniel died aged 93.

Norma says: ‘If your husband was on submarines in the war or on the planes you could leave work and you could travel round with him. I just walked out of my job and did that. It was a dangerous occupation so that was it then, we got married and we did go away.

I’d moved into this house where I am now and I’d had one baby.

‘He wasn’t a year old and I was expecting another one!’

Norma Waldren from Baffins, celebrated her 100th birthday on Tuesday, April 26 at her home. Pictured is: (right) Norma Waldren with her best friend Pat whilst on holiday in Majorca in 1960.

The Waldrens had three children, Ralph, Keith and Nicky who all stay in touch with Norma. She also has five grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

Norma worked at Airspeed on Eastern Road as a shorthand typist until 1943 when she left to raise her family.Always organised and practical, Norma is famed for her planning and making the most of each day.

She says: ‘When you’re older, you have to have a system. I have my meal ready for the evening. I have a glass of wine a day.’