Hayling Island's Ivy Ward celebrates her 100th birthday

‘It doesn’t feel any different really,’ says Ivy Ward, as she reminisces and laughs with her family about turning 100.

Monday, 16th December 2019, 12:27 pm
Updated Tuesday, 17th December 2019, 12:32 pm
Ivy War celebrated her 100th birthday at the Cheybassa Lodge Rest Home, Hayling Island. Picture: Habibur Rahman.

Born on December 11, 1919, in Plaistow, London, Ivy grew up with her identical twin Lilian – known as Lily – and the pair were ‘very close’ throughout their lives.

‘When me and Lily were born, we were such little things,’ explains Ivy.

‘Six months after we were born the doctor advised that we were sent to the countryside for better air quality, so me and Lilian went to Fareham with my mum.

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Ivy, right, with her twin sister Lily when they were 16. Picture: Habibur Rahman.

‘We were back in London six months later and I grew up there until we moved to Eaton Bray, Bedfordshire, when I was 13.’

The Piggott family had the opportunity to move away and had been to Bedfordshire on holiday.

Ivy says: ‘I left school at 14 and then worked for a carnations garden centre, which picked and sent flowers to London.

‘Everyone in the village worked in the same place.

Ivy Ward celebrated her 100th birthday at the Cheybassa Lodge Rest Home, Hayling Island. Picture: Habibur Rahman.

‘It was a nice place to work – whenever one of the local girls got married we always did their bouquets.’

While at work, the Piggott twins met two other sisters from the Ward family.

‘They were going to a dance in Dunstable and invited their brothers along.

‘One of the brothers, Lewis, was with Lilian and he said the brother who he was meant to bring was busy, so he brought his other brother George to Dunstable.

Ivy Ward with her family: son-in-law Terry Stonebridge, grandson-in-law Mark Wording, daughter Cathy Stonebridge and granddaughter Tracey. Picture: Habibur Rahman.

Ivy smiles and says: ‘We went for a walk – and that was it really.’

George Ward and Ivy were together for three years before they tied the knot in March 1939 at Dunstable Register Office.

Ivy explains: ‘Lily and Lewis got married the following year.

‘Both of the brothers worked on the farms. The wages were terrible but they loved the work. They weren’t sent to war because they worked on the land.

Ivy Ward on her 90th birthday with her twin sister, Lily. Picture: Habibur Rahman.

‘We moved to Toddington a year after we were married.’

The Wards had their first son Raymond in 1940 and then their daughter Cathy in 1950.

‘I went back to ork after I had the children,’ she says.

‘I worked as a dinner lady at St George’s School, Toddington, and four of my grandchildren went there.’

As they got older, George and Ivy moved to Petersfield and loved gardening and walking together. They also travelled across Europe and at 84 years old, Ivy flew to Kenya and went on a safari.

And while her daughter Cathy lived in Switzerland, Ivy would holiday there four times a year.

She smiles and says: ‘It’s a lovely place.’

When George died in 1993, Ivy continued to live in Petersfield independently until earlier this year when she moved to Cheybassa Lodge Rest Home, Hayling Island.

Ivy is a proud great-great-grandmother of her six grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren. The birthday girl has celebrated with her friends and family with an afternoon tea party at Cheybassa Lodge on her birthday, as well as a party at Sunnyside Hall, Hayling, on December 14.

When she looks back on the century, Ivy says she has had a ‘happy’ life.

She smiles and adds: ‘One thing though, I used to worry inwardly a lot. Looking back now, I wouldn’t worry as much.’