There was only ever going to be one place where Olive Ockenden would want to celebrate her 100th birthday – in Meads, the area she has grown to know and love over the decades.
Olive marked her special occasion with lunch at Ridgways in Meads Street and spent the day reminiscing with her friends and family.
Mrs Ockenden, née Mackay, was born in Crawley on March 19, 1914 but moved to De Walden Mews after the Great War. She recalls, “At that time, Meads was full of children. The cottages in the village and along Meads Street were occupied by tradesmen and shopkeepers, most of them with large families.”
Olive attended Meads School and lived on Meads Street, first at number 28 with her parents and then at number 32 when she married. After she was widowed in 1963, Olive became the third member of the family to work at local jewellers William Bruford and Son.
While most of Olive’s memories in Meads are happy ones, she does still vividly remember the air raids in the area. She said, “In March 1943, there was a raid one Sunday and my parents’ home got a direct hit. A lot of people were killed including my father. My son was supposed to be there for lunch but he was late and my mother came to fetch him. If he’d been on time, he and his grandmother would probably have been killed, too.”
Looking back over her life, she added, “There have been a lot of changes to Meads during my lifetime but it’s still my favourite part of town.”