It's May's day as she turns 104
A woman from West Bromwich has recalled surviving a World War II bomb blast as she celebrates turning 104.
May Richards was joined by friends and family at Oakley Gardens, the extra care scheme in the town where she lives, as she celebrated reaching the landmark.
When May was born on May 5th 1912 an enquiry had just been launched into why the Titanic had sunk and the Suffragettes were still campaigning for the vote.
Born and bred in West Bromwich, May remains independent at Oakley Gardens, an extra care scheme.
May said: “It was great to celebrate reaching 104. I must say I enjoy telling everyone how old I am as it shocks people and the look on their faces is a wonderful picture.
“I still enjoy going out and about by myself, I am very lucky because at the age of 104 I’m still able to move about and go places. “
Mother-of-two May lived through two wars and tragically lost her brother Ernest who died after sustaining injuries in battle. She was married to her husband Harold for more than 80 years before he passed away six years ago.
Recalling the war she said: “I remember very vaguely that every time we heard the siren go my mom and dad would pick us up or run in a hurry with us to the bomb shelter, it was very scary and as a child I wished I never have had to go through it.
“When I was fourteen years old I started working for a company called W&J Laurie, those was the happy days when we would come into work and make taps and water systems and while working on the machines we would all be singing, it was actually like a musical. Every time someone had clocked in they would walk through the door and start singing which then set the rest of us off.
“It was where I met my husband Harold he would be standing outside having a cigarette and I knew from the moment I laid eyes on him that he was the one for me. I know it sounds a bit daft but I could imagine my life with him.
“We married and before we knew it we were in another war and I was a lot older and understood what we had to do when the siren went off. Just remembering what we did in the first war was terrifying.
"Every time the siren went of we would go to the bomb shelter. I remember looking up one night and seeing planes flying over and seeing the bullets lighting up the sky.
“We heard an almighty blast and we all said that was close and it sounded like it was right next to us, the whole bomb shelter felt like it had been picked up and thrown. When morning broke of the night the bomb went off we were all worried to see what we would find and when we looked we had been thrown about 200ft-250ft from where the shelter was originally and we had seen that it was the church that had been blown up.
“Every time we came out of the bomb shelter we would go and have a walk round the streets to see what had been damaged and help people that needed help in rebuilding their lives.”
Oakley Gardens provides independent living with support on site. May has her own apartment and receives some support but remains independent.
Court manager Nadine McCann said: “May is wonderful for her age and it was fantastic to mark her 104th birthday with a celebration at the court.
“She is remarkably independent and looks after herself in her own home with just a bit of support when she needs it.
“May is an inspirational woman and a reminder of what our older people have been through in their lives. It’s a privilege to be able to work with people like May and help them stay independent.”
Pictured May Richards with Oakley Gardens court manager Nadine McCann.
Tags: Extra Care