Centenarian Dagenham widow loved and lost three men called George
PUBLISHED: 09:56 16 January 2015 | UPDATED: 14:21 22 January 2015
Ivy Weeks’ long life has been filled with love, war and grief. As she turns 100 she looks back on the century and tells Anna Silverman about those who brought her the most happiness – and how she ended up marrying three men with the same name
As a birthday approaches you or I might grumble at the thought of turning another year older – but centenarian Ivy Weeks says there’s nothing to moan about.
Family from as far as Canada joined her to celebrate in Dagenham this weekend, 100 years after she was born amid the industrial slaughter of the First World War.
The widow married three “wonderful” men who were all called George – one of whom she met in a remarkable way.
She had only been married to her first husband a few years before he was taken ill and suffered an untimely death.
She met George number two a few years later.
“I’d been through a lot after my first husband died and when I met George I realised he was also a very sickly man.
“On our first date we went to the cinema in Birmingham. During the film he left me in my seat because he was on medication and needed to take it in the bathroom. At that moment I thought: ‘I can’t do this again.’
“After the film I broke the news to him and he said: ‘What!’ He threw his fist into a glass box on the street wall that called the emergency services. By the time we’d got to the station I’d changed my mind. We had the most marvellous marriage and he gave me my daughter, Susan.”
The Second World War broke out when Ivy was living in Birmingham. She spent it working in a factory making parts for bombs.
Her and George number two spent the war years dodging the Luftwaffe’s blitzing of the city – which was the third most heavily bombed behind London and Liverpool.
“We had the black outs and had to try and live on the rations we had. It wasn’t easy but we took it and lived with it. We didn’t moan. I’m in a wheelchair now and I don’t moan.
“When I was in the factory we never saw daylight. We arrived in the dark and left in the dark and we’d sleep down in the cellar. When I listen to people now they moan about this, that and the other – but they haven’t got a clue.”
The second George died in 1975 and a heartbroken Ivy was widowed again.
In 1978 she saw a story in the Sunday paper about a man who complained about the holiday company, Pontins.
She wrote a letter to the paper applauding the man for standing up to a big firm and, before long, the man had ended up as the third George in her life.
“He contacted me after my letter and then showed up at my door with a bunch of flowers, all the way from London. He worked at Ford’s in Dagenham so I married him and moved there.”
Well into her 70s Ivy worked hard as a hotel’s housekeeper. At 74 she eventually hung up her duster after she grew tired of the Underground and travelling into central London each day.
She turned 100 on January 8 and the Queen’s birthday card sits in pride of place in her room.
“It does feel strange to turn 100,” she admited. “When I got my letter from the Queen I thought it was me on the photo because we’ve both got the same grey hair. I had to look at it with my magnifying glass to realise it was her.
“I’ve seen a lot of change in my life and you take it all in your stride. The most significant change I’ve seen is people being spoilt. I’m in a wheelchair and I still go and do my own shopping if I need to. I don’t moan.”