Lord Harris Court resident who worked for M15 during WWII celebrates her 100th birthday

28 July 2020

A resident at Lord Harris Court, in Wokingham, who worked for M15 during World War II, has celebrated her 100th birthday.

Peggy Booth, who has lived at the Home since 2017, was surprised and delighted to receive a card from HM the Queen.

Kind-hearted staff at the Home were determined that Peggy had a day to remember in spite of the pandemic, so they organised a 1920s themed party at the Home for Peggy, her fellow residents and staff.

She received lots of beautiful flowers and a cake made by the Home’s chef. Peggy’s family were also able to visit her in the Home’s new Covid-secure visitor pod.

Peggy was born and raised in Hammersmith, West London, on 24th July 1920. At school she was a brilliant netball player, despite not being very tall.

As a young woman she worked as a secretary at the Austin Motor Company in London.  Peggy met her beloved late husband, Jimmy, just before the start of World War II and they got married in 1941.

In those days, Jimmy was a Spitfire Pilot, while Peggy worked in a secretarial role for MI5, dispatching decoded messages to The War Office and other military offices. For a year, she and colleagues worked in the basement of Wormwood Scrubs Prison, which she remembers had cockroaches! Later on, she was based at Blenheim Palace.

Among the most extraordinary things to happen to Peggy was her involvement in a now infamous visit to Scotland in 1941 by Adolf Hitler’s deputy, Rudolph Hess. It was Peggy who took the phone call from MI5 in Scotland with information that Rudolf Hess had landed in Scotland, and she had to phone Downing Street to advise them of the news!

The event, which has been described as one of the most bizarre episodes of World War II, unfolded on a farm to the south of Glasgow. Hess parachuted from his plane, landing in a field near Eaglesham. Quite why he made the journey, remains a mystery and it has been the subject of many conspiracy theories for 70 years.

After the War ended, Peggy worked for a firm of stockbrokers until her son was born.  In later years, she and Jimmy worked together, running a newsagent with a sub Post Office in Bromley, Kent.

Peggy now has two grandchildren and two great granddaughters, who she adores.

Peggy is known for her great sense of humour and loves slapstick comedy. She also loves sewing and tapestry.

So, what’s the secret to Peggy’s long and happy life? Her family say it could well be that she enjoys a regular tipple of Sherry! They also say that she is determined and never gives up.

Reflecting on her long and happy marriage, Peggy has this advice for younger generations: “Be patient, trust one another and always be honest and truthful. You have to work hard to build a relationship, but if you love somebody then everything will work out just fine.”

Speaking on behalf of Lord Harris Court, Steve Stace said: “It was an honour to celebrate Peggy’s 100th birthday at our Home. She is a wonderful lady who is much loved at our Home.”