Woman who helped produce engine parts for fighter planes gears up to celebrate 100 birthday
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Eleanor Petrie, who lives in Bo’ness, has been reminiscing about her life and says she has no regrets about how she spent her 100 years.
Born in 1921, Eleanor went into service after leaving school at 14 and worked in a factory helping produce engine parts for fighter planes as WWII loomed.
Eleanor was raised in Newcastle with three siblings and was passionate about poetry. She can reel off hundreds of poems to this day.
During her time at the Rolls Royce factory in Solihull, West Midlands, Eleanor helped produce engine parts to keep fighter planes flying safely before moving to the Navy Army and Air Food Institutes [NAAFI] at Catterick Garrison, catering to soldiers in military training before they went to war.
Looking back on her life Eleanor has said the best moment was the night she met her husband while serving for NAAFI at a social event and was asked to dance by a ‘handsome, red haired young Scot’.
At the end of the evening the band were playing a popular song of the time ‘Who’s taking you home tonight’ and Eleanor said cheekily “You, if you like!” – a moment she remains proud of.
The young Harry Petrie was posted to Africa for four years during which time they got engaged by ‘snail mail’ and married on New Year’s Day after he returned from Africa in 1946.
The couple went on to have two daughters and one grandchild. They were happily married for 49 years before husband Harry passed just a few weeks short of their golden anniversary.
Eleanor’s daughter Elaine Dixon says she has planned to make the day special with the help from Bield staff at Dean Court.
Elaine said: “My mum has lived an extremely interesting life and it has been lovely to go back through some of her favourite memories as we approach this milestone birthday.
“It has been an adventurous life, full of happy memories, and plenty of learning experiences which she has now passed down to the rest of the family.
“She has always said the secret to a long and happy life is a sense of humour and some coffee walnut cake!”
Eleanor keeps her mind alert with her favourite TV shows, and obsession with puzzle books, though this is getting harder due to fading eyesight.
Her mobility is now severely hindered and she is hard of hearing, but she doesn’t let this stop her enjoying the things she can do.
Alison Lowe, Development Manager at Dean Court said: “We all can’t wait to watch Eleanor turn 100, it’s such a monumental achievement.
“She’s so much younger than her years – always up for a bit of fun and loves to socialise in more normal times so maybe that’s the secret to having a long healthy life”.
Eleanor will celebrate her birthday on April 20 surrounded socially distanced with her family and Bield staff at Dean Court.