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I was a keen backgammon player from a young age, and I come from a card playing family. At my home here at Hughenden Gardens Village, I’ve taught others how to play the board game. All my life I’ve been a leader, not a follower. I got involved in lots of things, and here I am.

Molly Cooke

Hughenden Gardens Village

Meet Hughenden Gardens resident, Molly!

Molly Cooke, a former code expert during the Second World War celebrated her 100th birthday in her Buckinghamshire retirement village recently.

Molly, born Beryl Mary Doreen Cooke, worked as a telegrapher during the Second World War. Here she discusses her past career and how she has brought her skillset to Hughenden Gardens Village where she moved to in 2019.

I was born in Exeter on 17 February 1923. I was lucky enough to have a bike after I saved money to get one and I cycled or walked everywhere I could.

My first job was earning six pence a week doing my neighbour’s shopping. I’d spend most of my money on sweets, and later on, on the occasional cigarette. We all indulged in things we ought not to!

I joined the Women’s Royal Naval Service (Wrens) during the Second World War when I was 18, but because I had left school at 14, they didn’t want me in the Wrens. I managed to make my case to the head of the Wrens, who allowed me to join the service. I spent six months learning Morse code before working as a telegrapher sending and receiving coded messages. I had a lovely time in the Wrens. Plenty of boyfriends, of course!

I met my husband Johnny who was a pilot while I was with the Wrens. A plane crash had forced him to take time off flying, and he was told to make himself useful and spend time in the control tower, where I happened to be. We married in 1946, and went on to stay together for 71 years. We had one child and one grandchild.

After the war I worked in the town clerk’s office. Me and my husband had our own interests. So we could leave each other and then come back. There’s ups and downs in all marriages.

Other Stories

Quite apart from the amazing comfort, spaciousness and support, the village is a wonderful combination of lots of activities, wonderful friendliness, and the chance, when you want, to be alone and undisturbed. Everyone can do their retirement their way!

Ruth Finnegan OBE - Author

Shenley Wood

We’ve made some very close friends here; we meet downstairs and feel very safe and secure.  In your own house you may not know your neighbours, you feel much less lonely here. Here you can have a cup of coffee with anyone!

Peter and Penny

Lovat Fields Village