100th birthday celebrations for Second World War telephonist

A Midhurst woman with a lifelong love of dance celebrated her 100th birthday last week.

Thursday, 15th October 2020, 2:46 pm

Margaret Cooper originally moved to the town in 1961 with her husband, Ronald, and their four children; Christine, David, Susan and Trudy.

Margaret had a varied and busy working life in the area, including at Michael Scott’s cake factory, The Angel Hotel and Paine Engineering (later Frazer Nash).

After she retired in 1982 and the children had left home Margaret and Ronald moved to Cocking and made the most of their retirement travelling abroad to France, Crete, Malta and Cyprus with their friends.

Margaret Cooper from Midhurst celebrates her 100th birthday. Picture: Steve Robards - SR2010122

They also helped in the community by delivering Meals on Wheels.

The couple later moved to a retirement and hotel complex owned by friends in Bognor Regis but, too active to retire, they continued to ‘work’ in the kitchens.

After Ronald passed away in 2001 Margaret returned to Midhurst to be closer to her family, where she has continued to live independently.

Margaret continued to enjoy holidaying with family — and even went to Australia with a friend when she was in her 80s.

Until recently Margaret enjoyed attending several Tandem outings a year and would also take the bus to her favourite pub for lunch and meet friends most days – as well as her weekly trip to her hairdresser of 40 years.

Born on October 7, 1920 in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, to Rosalie and Frank Welch, Margaret spent her youth in Terrick and Butlers Cross, in the parish of Ellesborough, Buckinghamshire, and attended St Bernard’s Convent for Girls in High Wycombe.

She began ballet classes when she was four years old and continued throughout her school years, which was the foundation of her lifelong love of dance.

After leaving school at 15 in 1935, she joined Aylesbury Post Office as a telephonist and worked there throughout the war years – and recalls frequently putting through calls to Churchill’s office at Chequers.

It was at a local Ellesborough village dance that she met Ronald, who was stationed at RAF Halton as an Air Apprentice, and they married in 1943.

Her family said Margaret has always been the life and soul of the party and loved cooking and entertaining family and friends – old neighbours from Elmleigh might remember her famous bonfire nights.

Her life has been full of family, many friends, cars old and new (through Ronald), gardening and animals – including her two Dalmatians, which she would still love to have today.

She marked her centenary with a range of celebrations spread out over a few days to allow her to see all her friends and family while following current government guidelines.

Margaret likes nothing more than to gather with her growing family of three remaining children, six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren – and she is always the first up on the dance floor!


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