A tribute to Mary Florence Garland: The Portsmouth lady who made it to 106

MARY Garland, who worked at Knight and Lee in the 1930s, has passed away at the age of 106.

The former dressmaker had an incredible life and has an intertwined connection to the Portsmouth News as her father, William Bass was a reporter for the paper after the First World War.

Born in Cosham in 1916, Mary attended the community school in Albert Road where she learnt the basic aspects of education, which was very important to her father.

The dressmaker was the Cosham carnival queen in 1937, which was a prestigious event during the time period, and her father, William, covered the success of his daughter for the Portsmouth News.

Mary Garland, from Emsworth, is known to be the oldest employee that worked for Knight & Lee in Southsea. Picture: Sarah Standing (290419-6049)

After college, Mary, then 16, became an apprentice at Knight and Lee where she trained to become a fully fledged dressmaker, a skill that she carried with her all of her life, allowing her to make dresses for her family when times were harder.

Mary saw the city of Portsmouth grow and evolve through the decades and was a faithful local lady who supported the community in any way that she could.

In 1939, she married her beau, George Garland, after a difficult two years where she waited for him to return from two assignments on the HMS Nelson and the HMS Enterprise.

Mary, who was mother to John and Tony Garland, worked hard to bring up two young children whilst her husband was serving the country in the Royal Navy.

Mary Garland (102) from Emsworth, is known to be the oldest employee that worked for Knight & Lee in Southsea. Pictured is: Copy picture of (right) Mary Garland when she was younger.

She spent the bulk of her life in Portsmouth and although she had to move out of the area for her husband's work, they were both drawn back to their hometown.

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She was a doting wife and a marvellous mother who raised her children in a home full of love, laughter and kindness. Her two sons idolise the woman that their mother was and paid particularly homage to her amazing sense of humour that never seemed to falter.

Her son, Tony, said that she ‘had the most amazing sense of humour’ and she was ‘always a bit of a prankster and a bit of a joker.’ Even when she was at the end of her life, she could always stir up a joke.

Mary Garland (102) from Emsworth, is known to be the oldest employee that worked for Knight & Lee in Southsea. Pictured is: Copy picture of (second left) Mary Garland when she was younger.

Tony said that she was an exceptionally caring woman, who would never cease to offer a helping hand when she could. In her time, she was a taxi driver for older people that needed transport and he said that she would poke fun that she was older than most of the people she was driving.

Tony said: ‘She was the most amazing woman with the most amazing memory, she could remember anything and anyone.’

In her last few years, Mary was cared for by her family and three careers who made sure she could stay in her home until the end.

The life of Mary Garland will be celebrated on July 5 with all of her closest friends and family in attendance.

(Left to right) John and Tony Garland

Tony added: ‘We just want it to be a quiet celebration of her life.’