Former land girl celebrates 102nd birthday days before VE Day

By Daniel Gee   |   Head of Content   |
Sunday 24th May 2020 10:16 am
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Helen pictured in 1945 during her service in the Land Army

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FORMER Second World War Land Girl Helen Ruffhead celebrated her 102nd birthday just two days before the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

Helen, who just turned 27 when victory in Europe was declared, moved into Bourne Wood Manor Care Home in Farnham soon after its opening in 2018 and has previously celebrated her 100th and 101st birthdays at the home.

Unable to see her family because of the coronavirus, she was instead treated to a garden party complete with home-made birthday cake.

Home manager Ileana Stan said: “Helen is a much-loved resident here at Bourne Wood Manor and under normal circumstances, we would have loved to have done more to celebrate as the residents here all love a good party.

“But with restrictions on movement and social distancing, we had to be creative.

“Our wonderful chef made a home-made birthday cake and we all took to the garden in glorious weather for a socially-distanced garden party.

“Although it wasn’t the 102nd birthday celebration we had planned, or with Helen’s family and friends present, we still were able to enjoy the day with Helen at the centre of the fun.”

Helen lived in Whytleafe, Surrey from the age of 12 years old and worked as a secretary until the beginning of the war, when she was drafted into the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF). During this time she worked at the Met Office in Uxbridge, where she was tasked with the crucial job of charting the weather for the RAF every four hours.

She married a navigating officer from the Royal Air Force, Kenneth Ruffhead, at the end of December 1943, and later transitioned from the WAAF to the Women’s Land Army, responsible for running a farm in Upper Warlingham, looking after the poultry and milking the cows.

She celebrated VE Day on May 8, 1945, with a street party in her home town Whyteleafe.

Helen is now an active member of the Bourne Wood Manor community, and at 102 years young she participates in chair-based yoga classes and day trips out, and one of her particular passions is water colour painting.

She also participated in a photo shoot at the home and is featured in the Bourne Wood Manor brochure and on the Porthaven website.

Helen said her birthday had been “amazing” and praised Bourne Wood Manor for its “lovely atmosphere”.

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