A FAMILY were reunited for the first time since the start of the pandemic during a surprise afternoon tea party to toast a 100th birthday.
Rugby-born great-grandmother Brenda Pitcher, who lived in a prefabricated steel ‘Nissan hut’ after the Second World War, was overjoyed to meet up with some of her closest relatives at the historic Coombe Abbey Hotel near Coventry.
Since March last year she has been in a support bubble with son Doug and daughter-in-law Jan in Rugby and had not seen her wider family.
To mark the occasion and her first trip out, the family chose Brenda’s favourite dining spot where they enjoyed a traditional Abbot’s afternoon tea in the Grade I listed hotel’s Garden Room restaurant.
She was greeted by a table decorated with 100th birthday balloons, a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers from in-house florist – Flowers at Coombe – and a 100th birthday cake.
Doug said as his mum had a sweet tooth and was partial to a scone, it was the perfect place to go.
“It’s the first time we’ve been able to give her a hug.
“We had a lovely afternoon and the staff at Coombe Abbey were so kind to my mother.
“The afternoon tea and service were excellent, plus the flowers were a nice added touch.
“We can’t thank Coombe Abbey enough for a wonderful celebration.”
Ron Terry, operations director at Coombe Abbey Park Ltd, said: “We were so pleased to have been able to play a part in making this a memorable occasion for Brenda and her family, who travelled across the country to be here.”
The new centenarian has two sons, three grand-daughters – one who drove up from Devon for the occasion – and five great-grandchildren.
Brenda was 19 when the Second World War broke out and still clearly remembers the bombing of Coventry in 1941.
She said: “All day and all night. Terrible it was.
“The war didn’t really interfere with daily life, just the blackout.
“One or two houses were bombed in Rugby. One in Bennett Street.
“I rarely went to the Nissan Hut. If I was going to die, I would sooner die in bed.”
She credits her long life to not smoking, sleeping well and keeping active – until a few years ago she was a keen rambler.
Her favourite pastimes have included travelling, especially to Devon and Cornwall, day trips to Coventry by bus and walking with her local rambling group.
She also visited the Rhine, Paris, Austria and Rome with friends after she was widowed following the death of husband Ray in 1975
She does, however, enjoy the odd treat.
Doug added: “She definitely likes her chocolates – and has been known to eat an entire box.”
Brenda has survived her three brothers and continued to care for her younger brother up until his death on January 1 2001.