Morecambe woman celebrates 100th birthday with champagne and card from Queen

A resident at a nursing home in Morecambe has celebrated her 100th birthday.

Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 10:43 am
Updated Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 10:44 am
Phyllis Harrison, a resident at Hillcroft Nursing Homes, Morecambe, was 100 on Wednesday January 30 2020.

Phyllis Harrison, a resident at Hillcroft Nursing Home, was overjoyed with how many people were present to mark the special occasion.

Celebrations began with the home singing Happy Birthday to Mrs Harrison as her son was by her side.

She was pleasantly surprised with everyone making a fuss of her big day and a glass of champagne as she opened her birthday card from the Queen.

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Phyllis was born 100 years ago in Bolton on January 30 1920. She lived in a small terraced house with her parents, two brothers and sister in Darcy Lever where her father Albert, was the village policeman. Phyllis was particularly close to her younger brother, Leslie.

Phyllis had a happy childhood and went to the dance hall in Bolton every Saturday with her friend, followed by the all-important visit to the fish and chip shop before taking the bus home.

After working briefly in a factory, Phyllis decided at the age of 21, to join the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, WAAFs.

Six months after training as a lorry driver and mechanic, Phyllis was posted to RAF Lichfield where she spent the rest of the war. Her duties included ferrying supplies to the airfield and most importantly, driving bomber crews and munitions to their aircraft each evening before a raid and then picking up survivors and the wounded on their return in the morning.

Phyllis was promoted to Corporal after volunteering to remove a 500lb MC bomb in the munitions store.

Mrs Harrison stayed in the WAAFs until 1948 when she got married and landed a job with the UK’s Atomic Energy organisation. She was the personal driver to Sir Christopher Hinton and Sir John Cockcroft who were leading the development of the UK’s nuclear weapon and power generation capability.

For two years, Phyllis drove Hinton and Cockcroft to various offices and plants around the UK accompanied by a German scientist who turned out to be the infamous spy Klaus Fuchs and was arrested for espionage.

After having her son, Barry, in 1952, Phyllis decided to take a break from work. Over the next seven decades, Phyllis lived in London and Devon before settling in Morecambe in 1994 with her beloved husband, John, until he died in 2001.

Phyllis moved to Hillcroft Nursing Home, Morecambe, in November 2015 when old age finally caught up with her.

Mrs Harrison’s son Barry said: “Mum has lived through a period covering 20 different Prime Ministers, three Kings and a Queen, survived a global flu epidemic and World War II. Not to mention encountering a spy along the way.

“I am so grateful to the wonderful, caring staff at Hillcroft, where she has been so lucky to spend the final chapter of her incredible life.”