Marjorie, 99, walks 100 laps of garden inspired by fellow war veteran Captain Tom
- Credit: COLIN WEST
A 99-year-old war heroine who worked on the top secret preparations for the D-Day landings, has followed in Captain Tom’s footsteps by walking 100 laps of her Dedham garden – and she’s still got more to give.
On Thursday, which was Captain (now Colonel) Tom Moore’s birthday, Marjorie West from Dedham reached her goal of 100 laps after being inspired by the fellow World War Two veteran.
The great-grandmother has raised more than £8,000 for the NHS since she began her challenge on Thursday, April 16, but she is not stopping there, saying she will keep going “until she can’t do anymore”.
Like Captain Tom, Marjorie played a pivotal role in British efforts during World War Two and last year she was presented with the Chevalier in the Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest military honour.
She said: “Captain Tom is a lovely man and he was the one that inspired me to do this. But I didn’t think it would be possible to raise this much money.”
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Marjorie decided to take on the challenge following a conversation over coffee with her son Colin, 64, and his wife Lyn, and started off by walking one lap of her garden (25 metres), before increasing to 10 laps a day in order to reach her goal.
She said: “The support has been excellent and people have been so kind.
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“I was inspired to show solidarity with Captain Tom by walking 100 laps of my garden by his 100th birthday. I am also 99 years of age, and also a veteran of World War Two, having served in the Women’s Royal Naval Service. Girls helped to win the war - girls can help to fight Covid-19.”
Marjorie signed up to the war effort after her husband Ted Graysmark was killed whilst serving in the RAF in Malta, just six weeks after they married.
She volunteered to be a member of the Women’s Royal Naval Service, known as Wrens, helping with the Allies’ top secret D-Day preparations as a teleprinter operator, following years of working at her local post office as a counter clerk.
Marjorie was later posted to Southwick House near Portsmouth, at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force, where she went into a similar situation to the lockdown we now face.
Here, her skills from being a teleprinter operator were put to good use, as she helped prepare the final plan for Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy.
Her son Colin explained: “Two or three months before D-Day she went into lockdown at the headquarters and had to be supervised by armed guards so no one could find out any information about the secret operations.”
In 1947 she met an RAF radio operator called Victor, who she later married and had two children with, Colin and Christine.
She now lives in Dedham with Colin and his wife Lyn, and is visited by her six grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren, who have been rooting for Marjorie via Zoom where they watched her complete her 100th lap.
Speaking of his mum’s achievement, Colin said: “I think it’s great, the whole family is very proud of her and we’ve all been supporting her throughout.
“Initially it was just a way of her getting out of the house and into an exercise regime, as she is not very mobile, but now she is thinking of setting another target.”
Marjorie has gone above and beyond her fundraising target of £1,000, and says she will keep walking to help raise money for staff fighting coronavirus at Colchester and Ipswich hospitals.