Ruby celebrates 104th birthday

RUBY Baldry has quite a tale to tell - she celebrated her 104th birthday yesterday after surviving two world wars, a raft of monarchs and outliving two husbands.

RUBY Baldry has quite a tale to tell - she celebrated her 104th birthday yesterday after surviving two world wars, a raft of monarchs and outliving two husbands.

She marked the special occasion with her family and friends at Aldringham Court, the nursing home where she has lived for the last two and a half years, between Leiston and Aldeburgh.

While her hearing has deteriorated, the twinkle in her eye still remains as she talks of a life in Suffolk and then her time in service - one that continued after her retirement when she moved back to her home county to look after her brother Eric.

She says her life has been a happy one but it has certainly been marked by a most terrible tragedy.

Ruby lost her first husband, Sonny Ackerman, and their four-year-old son Edward in World War Two, when a V2 rocket tore through their road and hit a building close to their house in Wembley, destroying everything in its wake.

She said: “You never knew where they were going to go. I was under the building and went unconscious, then I came back again and went unconscious again. I just kept on like that.”

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Ruby's great-nephew Richard Warren, of Aldeburgh, said it was days before Ruby was pulled out, having been found by a sniffer dog. Going in and out of consciousness may very well have saved her.

It was a tragedy from which many people would never have recovered, but while Ruby chose not to have any more children she learned to get on with her life.

“We used to call my husband Sonny because of his sunny eyes,” she said. “The baby was not quite five when he died.

“It was a huge shock, but you have got to get over these things and you have to fight. We had to fight them (the Germans) too.

“When you suffer a shock such as that you have to carry on working it does you good, at least I found it to be so.”

All Ruby's seven siblings have now passed on and only she remains to tell stories of a bygone era.

She grew up in Great Glemham, the daughter of a carpenter.

And she remembers fondly her family's annual trip to Aldeburgh each year for their holiday.

“We went for a day trip by horse and trap to the White Horse (sic) and we'd paddle in the water.”

Ruby did not remain in Suffolk but went to live in London and her working life was spent in service in some great households including that of Churchill's daughter Diana and her husband, a son of millionaire Sir Abe Bailey, as well as Lord Winterton MP.

After the death of her husband and child and some time in Skegness, Ruby went to an agency for work and found a position as a cook in the then Harrow School for Girls.

She remained there until she was 62 and headed off to Sussex to live near her sister Gracie.

She was eventually married again, to Vic Baldry, but does not count that marriage as her husband suffered a heart attack less than two years after their wedding.

Ruby said: “I had the chance of a third one, but I said: 'no fear.'”

Ruby returned to Suffolk to look after her younger brother Eric, who was “terrible” after the death of his wife. She added: “I told him I would get a bungalow near him if he behaved himself.”

She remained living on her own until she had a fall at 101 and had to have surgery.

Ruby has no idea why she has lived so long, has no secret of the elixir of life, she just knows she is here and enjoys the sunshine and a little fresh air.

But great-nephew Richard said: “Ruby lived on her own until she was 101. She has always just got on with things. She lost her husband and son in one go, but did not let that destroy her.

“She had to come in here after living on her own, but just got on with it. That's how she has always been.”

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