Category Archives: anniversary

Happy 100th Birthday

Thank You to Tony for this piece …
Betty Gordon
Betty Gordon raised a glass of bubbly to thank neighbours, friends and carers who had come to wish her a happy 100th birthday at her Abingdon home. They all observed strict social distancing outdoors and cheered as Betty, with obvious delight, cut the cake and showed her birthday card from the Queen.

Other cards came from friends far and wide. Neighbours had provided balloons and streamers, scones and cupcakes and a pile of presents including smoked salmon for breakfast and a T-shirt saying “Betty, the wee Scottie” with a picture of a Scottie dog.

Betty was born on 21 July 1920 in Caithness on the northern tip of Scotland. She remembers walking to primary school through snow that was knee-high. ‘That made me tough,‘ she said. She lived with her parents in Edinburgh after that but when her father died her mother went to London to find work. Betty stayed on at school until she was 16 then went to join her mother in London. She loved looking after children, and had a job with one family for seven years, stopping only when her own son was born.

Betty and her husband Charles moved to Abingdon from Kennington in 1978. They attended St Helen’s Church and did Scottish Country Dancing. They had a son who was tragically killed in a car accident at age 18. For 10 years Betty nursed Charles who had Alzheimer’s disease, pushing him to church in his wheelchair until he died in 1997. Betty then moved to St Nicolas Church which was closer to her home. She helped as sacristan from 2006 to 2012. In 2015 she suffered several strokes and could no longer go to church.

VE Day 75 in Abingdon – continued by correspondents

Thank you to Martin and Hester and Roger for some further pictures of VE Day 75 and my Dad for a memory of VE Day …
VE Day 75 in Abingdon
This house was voted best display by the residents of Pickler’s Hill. This was also a history exhibition as well as celebration.
VE Day 75 in Abingdon
This picture has the caption ‘Together we will finish the job’.
VE Day 75 in Abingdon
George Haslam regularly plays during the Clap for Carers on Thursday evening on the Workhouse estate.

The houses on Abbott Road, Thesiger Road and 4 – 42 Oxford Road have long held their own identity because of their location on the site of the former workhouse. They have been brought together by the Abingdon Coronavirus Community Response group (ACCR), set up in the wake of the Coronavirus, and now have a Whatsapp group to coordinate what they do. They are making vital PPE, have set up flour, rice and plant hubs and came together for a socially-distanced VE Day commemoration in their front gardens and drives.
VE Day 75 in Abingdon
There was a multicultural look to some of their displays
VE Day 75 in Abingdon
There were historic displays.
VE Day 75 in Abingdon
Some people were thinking of peace not war.
VE Day 75 in Abingdon
From Roger, here is a corner of Windrush Way, Radley Green, celebrating the 75th anniversary of VE day.

Although not Abingdon, my Dad’s memory of VE Day brings the time to life ‘All workers and school children were given a day’s holiday to celebrate ‘Victory in Europe’ Day (V.E. Day) on the 8th of May 1945.  In recognition of V.E. Day the rather drab street of terraced houses, where we lived in Leicester, was transformed overnight. 

Our neighbours produced long ladders and between them they strung up a series of colourful banners across the street.  Union Jack flags, gay pennants and balloons hung from the banners high above our heads and many doors were decorated with gaudy coloured crepe paper.  An upright piano was pushed out from one house into the middle of our street.  Halfway through the afternoon, a variety of tables appeared and scores of parents and children tucked into sandwiches filled with lashings of salted dripping, jam and cheese.  When these were eaten jellies, macaroon cakes, buttered slices of malt bread and lemonade appeared on the tables.  Mahogany coloured tea was served continuously from a steaming urn with a built in calor-gas heater.

Although we were not allowed to take part in any of the street parties, we observed the non-stop celebrations, in a clandestine sort of way, from our parents’ front bedroom window.  As it grew dark, the blackout curtains were torn down from windows all along the street.  For the first time in five years the pavements were flooded with light.  The revellers danced to the accompaniment of the old, out of tune, honky-tonk piano.  Bonfires were lit in the nearby park and on the allotments.  We also heard the distant peel of church bells and the sound of fireworks.  Everyone seemed to be waving flags and as the evening wore on an impromptu procession formed and weaved all over the street.  Groups of neighbours held hands and danced in circles to the music of the piano, swaying as though in a hypnotic trance.  Younger children sat on the doorsteps watching the dancing and eating lemon curd and peanut butter sandwiches from plates in their laps.  All of these festivities were entirely appropriate because the nightmare of war, that the community had endured for so long and with such fortitude, was at long last over. 

VE Day 75 in Abingdon

VE Day 75 in Abingdon
We visited some residential areas during our daily walk and saw a lot of bunting and flags put out for VE Day 75. This display is in St John’s Road.
VE Day 75 in Abingdon
We walked down Geoffrey Barber Road where, in places, every other house had a flag or bunting outside. Winston Churchill’s speech was playing on a loudspeaker at 3 pm. A lot of people were sitting in their front gardens for the celebration.

Elsewhere we saw people out in front gardens having picnics and talking to neighbours at a social distance.

East St Helen Street had people sitting out on their doorsteps with bunting on their houses. In West St Helen Street the drum major from the Oxford Caledonian Pipe Band had draped a Union Jack from his window. He also played the drum before and after the 2 minute silence at 11am.
VE Day 75 in Abingdon
We had a discussion about what people in Germany felt about VE Day. I was interested to then read the new Abingdon Museum Blog as it gave a German perspective to VE Day.
VE Day 75 in Abingdon
The Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire said in a video speech that VE Day 75 is an important time of remembrance and celebration. We remember the sacrifice that people made on the front and at home in WWII. He drew a parallel to the Covid-19 pandemic and said the people working for the NHS are on the front line. (Picture of wreath outside Abingdon Royal British Legion)
VE Day 75 in Abingdon
VE Day 75 in Abingdon
Steve King has written a book called Fifty-Six telling the story of the men from Abingdon who died on active service during WWII. They gave their lives so that we could have peace.
VE Day 75 in Abingdon
The Guild of Town Criers released a video with a Virtual Cry for Peace. It remembered the sacrifice made by women at home during WWII …

Leap Year Proposal

Leap Year Proposal
I am not aware of any proposals made at the Happy to Chat Bench in Abingdon Market Place today.

A second, more secluded, Happy to Chat Bench can also be found at St Helen’s Wharf. Perhaps something happened there.

I did read of a leap year proposal in the British Newspaper Archive with the title ‘O, Tis Love! Tis Love! (https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk), from 1844.

At Abingdon, a youth named Robins was tried at the assizes for the unlawful abduction of Jane Willavize, a  “miss in her teens,” and the daughter of a rich farmer. The prisoner, a good-looking young man of 19, was the prosecutor’s under-carter ; and having won entrance into the heart of Miss Jane, her apartment was one night found empty. Robins’s room was also empty. The young folks in fact, had fled. 

The farmer was given a tip off and discovered them in private lodgings at Old Brentford, and gave the young man into custody, charged with abduction, the damsel being under age. At the trial, when examined, Miss Jane said the prisoner had found favour in her eyes, and they courted together secretly. It was not he who had proposed to run away with her. She proposed to him, this being a “leap year.”

The jury after hearing the story, convicted the prisoner of abduction, and the judge fined him ONE SHILLING which was paid immediately. The sentence was received with loud applause to the great scandal of the court crier.

Happy New Year 2020

Happy New Year 2020
The Christian Aid Walk set off from the Abingdon Baptist Church at 10 am this morning.
Happy New Year 2020
The Abingdon Boundary Walk set off from the Market Place at 11 am this New Year Day’s morning at the start of 2020.

Count how many people were on the walk on this video. There were a lot.
Happy New Year 2020
From about 12:30 pm, Abingdon Traditional Morris Dancers performed at the Punchbowl and Kings Head and Bell and carried on playing music most of the afternoon.