At 100-years-old Anne Barlow of Aysgarth had a lot to teach us about enjoying life. This was very obvious at her birthday party at West Burton village hall on Saturday, June 21. And also in the way she so joyfully participated in all the fun of watching the Tour de France Grand Depart pass through her village. (click on the photo to see the way she enjoyed her birthday celebrations.)
Aysgarth and District parish council had ensured that the bench outside her home had been repaired and her friends and family made sure it was in the best place for her to view the peloton. She was even more impressed by the helicopters hovering over Aysgarth.
She was so pleased that over 90 friends and family, some from as far away as France, had joined her at West Burton village hall for her birthday party. Her close family there included her grandsons, Edward, William, Louis and Jed.
Her son, Roger, especially thanked his daughter-in-law, Helen, for the creative ideas which helped to make the party so memorable – and his son, Guy, and his wife, Sue, for assisting with the preparations.
One of his special memories of his mother was the amount of Eccles cakes she used to make – and so his wife had made a tower of them. He told those at the party: “You have to have at least one Eccles cake!” The actual birthday cake was decorated so as to celebrate his mother’s dressmaking and gardening skills.
Roger told them that his mother was born into a coal mining family at Atherton in Lancashire – the sixth of eight children. After she left school she worked as a clerk and then as a secretary.
She married Edward (Eddie) Barlow in July 1939 just a few months before he joined the regular army. In 1945 she wrote to Winston Churchill: “My husband has been fighting in Europe for five years – how dare you send him off to India and Burma to fight the Japanese!”
After the war Mr Barlow worked as an electronics engineer in Leeds and she became a medical secretary at the neurological unit at Leeds General Infirmary.
“I had a very happy life with him,” Mrs Barlow said wistfully about her husband who died in May 1992.
While working in Leeds they bought a holiday cottage in West Burton, and when they retired they moved to Blades Cottage at Aysgarth.
She was very grateful to all who helped to make her to remain living there so long. As her son said – she continued to use her energy and enthusiasm to live life to the full, including going on a world tour when she was 84-years-old.
She had a great sense of humour and a zest for life – and was delighted that she was able to witness such a “once in a lifetime event” as the Grand Depart coming to Yorkshire.
Epilogue: Anne died on January 23 2018.