Can you help one of Suffolk's oldest residents, Bessie, celebrate her birthday?

Bessie Coulson is 105 this month

Bessie Coulson is 105 this month - Credit: Garrett House

A Suffolk care home is looking for help to mark the birthday of one of its oldest residents, who was born during the First World War and was the wife of Winston Churchill’s bodyguard.  

Bessie Poulson, nee Nobbs, was born on January 26, 1916, and grew up in Creeting St Mary. 

This year Bessie will mark her 105th birthday at Garrett House Care Home in Aldeburgh, where she lives, and staff hope that members of the public will be able to send in cards to help her celebrate her big day as she cannot see her family.  

Staff at the home said that Bessie is a Suffolk girl through and through having never lived outside the county and having grown up riding on Suffolk Punch horses on her grandfather’s farm.   

Bessie Coulson has lived in Suffolk her whole life

Bessie Coulson has lived in Suffolk her whole life - Credit: Garrett House

She married her husband Charles Poulson in 1937 but they weren’t together long before he went off to war.  


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He survived and years later Bessie found out that he had been one of Winston Churchill’s bodyguards and had even been involved in the interrogating of Adolf Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess in the Tower of London. 

Bessie also played her part during the war, becoming an insurance agent, cycling around the county to collect money. 

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She narrowly avoided getting hit by German bombers one day as she collected money in Needham Market.  

Bessie said it was watching dog fights in the Suffolk sky that upset her most of all, as she knew so many of the young men that had gone to fight. 

Bessie and Charles went on to have two children; Kenneth, who has passed away, and Joan. 

The couple also had four grandchildren and six great grandchildren.  

Bessie is a big fan of Elvis

Bessie is a big fan of Elvis - Credit: Garrett House

In the 1950s Bessie was the landlady at the King’s Head at Creeting St Mary until it closed in 1959 where she enjoyed socialising with others.  

As well as pulling pints, Bessie also helped to make wedding dresses for girls in the village, many of whom then enjoyed their receptions at the pub.  

Bessie later moved to Wickham Market to be near her daughter. Here she made many new friends and managed to look after herself until just after her 100th birthday when she moved to Garrett House.  

Here she has taken part in lots of activities including dancing with a look-alike of her favourite singer Elvis Presley.  

Bessie puts her long life down to enjoying herself, a tot of brandy whenever she fancies (she keeps a bottle in the drawer of her bedroom) and oranges. 

A spokesman for Garrett House said: “The only time we see Bessie go into a mild panic is when she is getting low on oranges. 

“Bessie loves her family and her daughter Joan is a constant source of comfort to Bessie, and to the staff at Garrett House with her endless supply of home made delicious cakes.” 

Bessie’s family cannot visit her this year so the home are asking people to send in birthday cards to make sure she can still enjoy her day. 

All cards should be sent c/o Garrett House, 43 Park Road, Aldeburgh, IP15 5EN.

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