By Mal Butler
A Sandown woman has said: “I can’t believe I have reached 100,” after celebrating her special birthday with a party for family and friends.
Peggy Forward has played a huge part in the town since moving to the Island in 1938 as a 16-year-old when her father, who was a Chief Petty Officer in the Royal Navy, was posted here.
She was born in Plymouth and, on leaving school, became an apprentice hairdresser but said no-one would take her on when she came to live on the Island. Instead, she worked at one of the shops on Sandown Esplanade under the Blue Lagoon swimming pool.
During the war she worked four-and-a-half years as a carpenter, building the Bailey bridges at the Broadway Park Hotel, a pre-fabricated truss bridge used by British, Canadian and US engineering units. While also working in a toy department in Shanklin, she met her first husband, Hilton Kingswell, who was a Royal Marine and was captured while serving in Crete. He was stationed at Eastleigh Barracks but used to visit his mother in Shanklin.
They married in St John’s Church, Sandown, where they were active members of the community and had a daughter, Janet.
Peggy said: “We took in visitors in our B&B for more than 20 years. It was something everyone did at the time. We had to make some money.”
Sadly, Hilton died of a heart attack in 1978. She met her second husband, Bill Forward, ten years later, while at the 50-plus Club at Sandown Sports Centre and they married in 1997.
Peggy has been a member of the Townswomen’s Guild many years, helping to raise funds in jumble sales as well as organising trips for the 50-plus Club for more than 25 years. She is also still President of the St John’s Church Fellowship.
She said: “I was a great organiser, although I could never sew, knit or do anything else!”
Peggy is a former recipient of the Sandown Citizen of the Year Award, and added: “I had a fabulous birthday and must have received 200-300 cards. I don’t really get out much now after a hip operation, but Sandown Deputy Mayor, Heather Humby, organised a small birthday party at the Broadway Centre. It was lovely to see everybody and I am going to have another party in the near future for my friends from the church.
“My birthday just crept up on me. When I woke up on the morning, I couldn’t believe I was actually 100!”
As well as daughter Janet, she also has grandchildren Amy and Ben and great grandchildren Matilda, Elise and Samuel.