Freda to mark her century

PUBLISHED: 14:58 24 December 2008 | UPDATED: 10:14 10 June 2010

A VOLUNTEER fire watcher during the Second World War will be celebrating her 100th birthday in the New Year.

A VOLUNTEER fire watcher during the Second World War will be celebrating her 100th birthday in the New Year.

Friends, family and staff at the Pinewood Nursing Home, in Budleigh Salterton, will prove that age is no barrier to having a good time, and will toast Mrs Freda Crook, who was born on January 2, 1909, with a glass of bubbly.

The celebration will also be marked with a cake, a greetings card from the Queen and visitors including nephews, nieces, her grandchildren Georgina and James and her great-granddaughters, Jordan, Charlie and Brooke - the latest addition to the family, who was born last June.

Freda, born in Chiswick, West London, five years before the First World War, was the youngest of seven children and christened Elsie Louise - but adopted her 'nickname' after a favourite brother Fred.

She trained as a secretary at Pitman's Secretarial school and worked in London for many years for various businesses and was employed during the Second World War by the US Army.

Like many Londoners of her generation, she lived through the Blitz and remembers families who lost their lives when their houses were bombed.

Daughter-in-law Liz Beddall said: "As a volunteer fire watcher she was supplied with the routine equipment, stirrup pump and bucket to counter fires caused by incendiary devices - although she luckily never had to put her skills into practice!"

She married her first husband Jack Beddall, who was a Captain in the Merchant Navy in 1939 and their son Jonathan was born after Jack returned from sea after the War - the family moved to Southampton in 1946.

Freda was actively involved with fund raising for many charities in Southampton for more than 30 years, including The PDSA, Mencap and the Salvation Army, and still takes a keen interest and supports all of these charities.

She met her second husband, Douglas Crook who was a Director of Crook Brothers Builders in Southampton on a cruise and they married in 1968.

Doug and Freda retired to Highcliffe in Dorset and had many happy years there until Doug's death in 2002. Freda continued to lead a very independent life but decided to move to Pinewood last year to be closer to her son Jon and his wife Liz who live in Sidmouth.

Liz added: "She is looking forward to her birthday and spending time with her family.

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