Sunday, 21 April 2019

Village’s oldest resident celebrates her 100th birthday

Village’s oldest resident celebrates her 100th birthday

WOODCOTE'S oldest resident celebrated her 100th birthday on March 1.

Rene Charlton, who lives in Behoes Lane, received greetings cards from the Queen and Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, to add to the host of cards from family, friends and well-wishers.

Mrs Charlton was born in 1919 in a tied cottage in Stoke Row to Walt and Edith Ingram. She was one of six children, two of whom died in childhood.

She attended Checkendon Primary School and Woodcote School before going into domestic service at Wyfold Manor.

She served in the Women’s Land Army during the Second World War, carrying out agricultural work, as well as serving in the canteen at Brock Barracks in Reading and in mobile canteens.

After a win on the Irish Lottery, Mrs Charlton’s family bought and moved into Rose Cottage in Goring Road, next door to the Red Lion.

They always kept two Jersey cows down the side of the house for milking and grazed them on the village green.

Rose Cottage remained in the family until its demolition within the past 10 years and was the residence of Mrs Charlton’s sister, Dorothy Burder, and her family.

Mrs Charlton recounts how she noticed a handsome young man, Sid Charlton, standing outside the Red Lion and cooked up a plan with her friend, Ruby Barratt, to see which one of them he would follow.

He followed his future wife, which got her a good telling-off from her mother, but love blossomed and they were eventually married at St Leonard’s Church in 1946.

However, the courtship could not have been easy as Mr Charlton, who served in the Berks, Bucks and Oxon regiment, was captured and incarcerated as a prisoner-of-war in Stalag VIII-B in Poland.

His wife managed to communicate with him at least once while he was a prisoner, sending him a photo with a poetic message on the reverse.

The couple became parents when Richard was born and the family moved to Behoes Lane and what has been the family home for 70 years.

Mr Charlton worked at the Woodcote brickworks and then at Jack Hatt’s for the rest of his working life.

Mrs Charlton returned to work as a cook at the Oratory School before taking up a similar post at Langtree School.

She later joined the caretaking and cleaning staff at Langtree.

Her husband passed away 20 years ago. In retirement, she devoted many hours to her garden but remained a familiar figure in the village, continuing to drive and visit her sister at Rose Cottage.

Mrs Charlton remains remarkably alert and positive and continues to live alone, though she can no longer walk and needs regular visits from carers.

Her son, Richard, makes visits every day.

Asked the secret of her longevity, she said she had never smoked and only ever drank shandy but admitted she loves sugar and salt.

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