Woman who cycled to Thaxted when Second World War broke celebrates 100th birthday

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A woman who cycled home from Hastings to Thaxted on a tandem on the day the Second World War broke out has just celebrated her 100th birthday. Connie Jarvis was born on June 17 1915.

Her centenary was marked with two big parties, an all-day open house for friends and neighbours and a family party with her two daughters, four grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

Mrs Jarvis, who received 56 birthday cards, including one from The Queen, was born in Debden and grew up in Thaxted. After she left school at 14, she went into service working for the family of the vicar of Thaxted, the Rev Jack Putterill cooking, doing housework and looking after the children.

Rev Putterill’s wife Barbara was the daughter of Thaxted’s “Red Priest” the communist, Conrad Noel, a friend of Gustav Holst, the founder of the Thaxted Festival in 1916.

The young Connie met Holst and remembers him as “a very nice man.”


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Mrs Jarvis met her husband Cyril at a dance. She recalled: “He played the drums in a dance band and I used to go to dances in the old barn.”

They married before the war. When hostilities were declared on September 2, 1939, they were on a seaside holiday.

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“We were told war had been declared and that we better go home.”

She says even though there had been rumblings, when war came, it was still a shock.

It had taken them a day to cycle to Hastings and it only took them a day to get back. Cyril then joined the Army and Connie took in evacuees, children sent out of London to Essex to escape from the Blitz.

After their marriage, the couple lived in Saffron Walden where Cyril, an engineer, worked for the Snowflake Laundry in Castle Street. They moved to Ickleton around 65 years ago. Her daughters, Gail and Julia said: “Mum’s grandchildren and great grandchildren are the apple of her eye. We would like to say a big thank you to every one who helped to make mum’s big day so special.”

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