FOR long-term royalist Mary Gibbs, reaching her 105th birthday came with an extra-special gift – a message from the Queen.
Mary, a resident at Winterton Lodge, in Goda Road, Littlehampton, said she was ‘thrilled’ with the card from the nation’s monarch.
“It’s such a nice sentiment,” she admitted. “It wasn’t a complete surprise because I knew it would be coming but it was still very nice.”
Mary was born on September 10, 1908 and was one of five children. She grew up in Thornton Heath, south London.
She said one of her most dramatic memories was while living in the capital during the Blitz.
“It was a terrible time. London was ablaze from end to end,” she recalled. “We lived in a shelter and could hear the bombs.
“I remember a man once running into our shelter shouting that Fleet Street was ablaze and that we needed to move.”
Mary said she was forced to run through bombed-out London, with anti-aircraft fire overhead and flames blazing from buildings around her.
She took shelter in a crypt at St Paul’s Cathedral when the dean of the church invited them in.
She said she spent the night resting on a tombstone while the dull thump of bombs exploding in the capital echoed through the cathedral.
“I was only about 30 when it happened but it’s a memory that will stay with me forever.”
For Mary’s full story, see today’s Littlehampton Gazette (Thursday, September 26).