A WOMAN who lived through the Coventry Blitz has celebrated her 100th birthday with coffee, cake and a card from The Queen.
Mavis Chew also welcomed a small group of friends and neighbours from the extra care housing scheme at Bevan Court in Cheylesmore where she lives.
The party was both socially distanced and belated. Mavis was taken into hospital a couple of weeks before her actual birthday in July following an accident, from which she has now recovered.
The second of three daughters, Mavis was born at home in a newly built Chapel Fields terrace in 1921. She lived there for 87 years, moving into Bevan Court in 2008, aged 87, after falling and breaking her leg.
She was baptised at the ‘Tin Tabernacle’, a corrugated iron ex-army hut, which later became the District Church of St Mary Magdalen. As a child, Mavis attended Centaur Road School, which later became Hearsall School.
Mavis, who found work at an office, said after leaving school at 14 in 1935 she felt she never reached her full potential because of shyness.
Years later she joined the accounting department at Standard Motors, where she remained for seven years.
Mavis then worked in both the company’s administration department and employment office, until taking early retirement in 1979, aged 58, to care for her mum, Frances Elizabeth Chew.
Mavis never married – she turned down a suitor in her youth as she did not want to leave her mother. After her retirement, she went on to foster two teenage girls until they turned 18.
Throughout her younger years, Mavis attended the Sunday Eucharist at the St Mary Magdalen, ‘the church with the big blue roof’, every week and was a member of the Townswomen’s Guild and St John Ambulance.
Mavis, a keen Scrabble player and flower arranger, remembers the Coventry Blitz on November 14, 1940, when almost 200tonnes of explosives fell on the city, killing 176 people and injuring around 680. She was 19 at the time.
She said: “My mother Frances, my older sister Edna and I sheltered in the under stairs cupboard.”
Niece Kate Discombe, daughter of sister Edna, said: “Mavis never married, despite having one very persistent suitor, whom I remember. However, she loved children and always doted on me.
“She always did crosswords when I stayed with her as a child, and loved spotting birds, especially robins.
“I wish her a very happy centenary.”
Childhood friend Gill Lane said: “Mavis lived for the church, where she made many friends including best friend Pam Radburn, Betty and Pete Wheldon, Margaret Sutherland, Muriel Pratt and Joan Beever.
“She was always good at maths and to this day, she is still very astute and knows where every penny is going.”
Tracey Hutchinson, team leader at Bevan Court, said: “Mavis is a lovely lady, who has lived with us for the last 13 years.
“Despite being profoundly deaf, she still manages to join in with activities and is determined to maintain as much independence as possible.
“We wish her a very happy 100th birthday.”
Bevan Court, managed by housing organisation Midland Heart, provides 42 self contained apartments, 30 of which have round the clock care offered by adult health and social care charity Making Space. Tenants of the scheme live with a number of health conditions including dementia.