Huthwaite great-great gran - who still enjoys a pint of bitter - celebrates 103 remarkable years

A great-great grandmother who has triumphed over adversity – including defeating coronavirus – to celebrate her incredible 103rd birthday has looked back on a life lived to the full.

Margaret Hayden was not able to celebrate the milestone with family due to Covid restrictions but plans are in place for a party later in the year.

Born in Colwick on July 14, 1917 over a year before the armistice of the First World War, Margaret battled through adversity most of life, lately fighting and defeating the coronavirus.

Her daughter Ann Collins, 75, said: “In her early life she didn’t attend school often, as she was a sickly child.

Catherine and Margaret

"When she left school she couldn’t read or write. She struggled with it all through her life.

"But eventually she learnt to read and write, when she was about 60.”

Margaret got married aged 18 to Ernest Kimberly known as Kim.

Within four weeks of him going overseas to serve in the Second World War he was reported missing in action and presumed dead.

Margaret on the right, with a friend

After that tragic event she moved to Halam to live with her parents who ran a pub there called The Waggon And Horses.

Ann said it was while working in her parents’ pub she met her second husband, Bert Hayden.

She added: “This handsome man came in – it was my dad.

"She got talking to him, but my granddad didn’t like him – my granddad didn’t like anyone!” Ann laughed.

Margaret Hayden

A romance developed and they fell in love but Margaret's father didn’t approve.

Ann said: “So they eloped. He came at night with a ladder and they eloped through the window.”

After they married Margaret and her new husband moved to Kirklington, where he worked as head cowman.

His job led them to move around the south of the country. Margaret had her two children in different counties – Ann was born in Shoreham East Sussex and her son John in Berkshire.

Eventually Margaret settled in Huthwaite where she worked for Metal Box and made products for the war effort, and then she worked on the home help.

“She's always worked. I think that's what kept her going.

"She's had a good life. She enjoyed dancing in her younger years. She's had her ups and downs everybody has though.”

When Bert passed away Margaret’s granddaughter Catherine, then aged nine moved in on a part time basis to keep her grandmother company.

This was a great comfort to Margaret and Catherine and Margaret are very close and remained so.

Catherine, 44, remembers Margaret making her own wine and even now Margaret enjoys the odd pint of bitter.

“We would go down to the park and pick the elderberries for her and she’d make her own wine,” she said.

Looking back Catherine remembers one of Maragaret’s saying: “It’s nice to be nice.”

Margaret was fiercely independent and only moved in to care in her nineties when Alzheimer’s disease began to take its toll.

Catherine added: “To see how someone was and how they’ve turned out is so it's cruel.

"She was very independent.”

Margaret has two children, seven grandchildren, seventeen great grandchildren and three great great grandchildren.

The family hopes to celebrate with Margaret at Forest Manor Nursing home, Sutton-in-Ashfield, in the near future.

Activity organiser Daisy Papila said: “What's lovely about Margaret is when we had the centenary of the armistice a couple of years ago I took her down to our local village hall and they were doing a memorial poppy wall.

"She pinned a poppy on, which was quite poignant at that time because she was one the year when the armistice was signed, and a hundred years later she went to pin a poppy on the wall. And now she’s 103.

"She’s a sweetheart. She loves a pint of bitter when she’s in the mood. If she refuses a cup of tea we know she wants a pint.”

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