Wartime vehicle visit adds touch of nostalgia to Janet’s big day
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020
A former army sergeant who served during the Second World War was treated to a memorable 100th birthday celebration.
Janet Harvey celebrated reaching a century yesterday at Fairland House care home in Attleborough, where she now lives.
Having grown up with her parents and three sisters in Broome, near Bungay, Ms Harvey left school at the age of 14 and went to work at the historic Clays printworks.
She subsequently spent a short period at a company which exported rabbit snares to Australia until war broke out in 1939.
Ms Harvey immediately joined the forces and, over time, worked her way up to the rank of sergeant in the women’s branch of the British Army, the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS).
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In recognition of her service, Fairland House organised for a wartime army ambulance to be brought up to the home from the military museum at Old Buckenham Airfield.
A representative from the Royal British Legion was also on hand to deliver her 100th birthday message from the Queen.
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Joanna Harper, Ms Harvey’s niece, said: “My aunt had a lovely day and I can’t thank Fairland House enough for organising it all.
“To have the ambulance visit, following her days in the army, was absolutely lovely for her.”
With war finally at an end, Ms Harvey pursued a career as a nurse in New Zealand, buying a one-way ferry ticket for £25 and training at a hospital in Wellington.
She spent seven years in the capital, but returned to the UK to be closer to her family.
Ms Harvey – who never married or had children – settled in London and, keen to stay in the field of nursing, became a personal assistant for renowned ballet teacher Elizabeth Twistington Higgins, who had been stricken by polio.
The pair travelled the world together throughout the 1970s before Ms Harvey retired aged 60 in 1980.
But her selfless desire to support others remained and she spent many years volunteering for various charities, as well as at the Royal Star and Garter Home for ex-service personnel in Richmond.
She moved into a retirement home in London at the age of 94, before returning to Norfolk in 2016.
Mrs Harper added: “My auntie is a social creature who loves doing things for people and always makes everybody’s day.”