Glady Baker in her land girl days
There aren’t many centenarians who can lay claim to be able to thatch a roof, do the foxtrot and ride a motorbike.
But former Land Army girl Glady Baker, who has just celebrated her 100th birthday, is that remarkable person.
Glady, who lives in a care home in Allhallows, puts her longevity down to healthy living and her love of the outdoors.
Ironically, her fondness of fresh air and countryside started after she contracted diphtheria as a young girl and was sent to a farm to convalesce.
Brought up and educated in Gravesend, she worked in shops in the town after leaving school at the age of 14.
One of her happiest childhood memories is of visiting the Isle of Grain, then considered a seaside resort, on her parents’ pony and trap.
Glady helped out by serving in a cafe on the beach there.
When she was old enough, she bought a motorcycle and used to visit her brother Alf’s holiday chalet in Cliffe Woods.
In early 1939 she and her sister Wyn went to Torquay to help set up an ice cream parlour for a family friend who came from Italy.
But with the outbreak of the Second World War, that venture was short-lived and she returned to Kent to join the ARP as a volunteer ambulance driver.
She later joined the Women’s Land Army, working on farms throughout the area – a time of her life she cherishes.
Glady said: “It was great fun. I lived in a caravan with three other women and we toured all over the place.”
Her nephew Peter Rawlinson, who lives in Stoke, said: “This is where her love for animals came to the fore and she became an experienced thatcher.”
Glady celebrating with her telegram from The Queen
When the war ended she returned to the Gravesend area to live with her parents, where she looked after her seriously ill mother until her death,
Shortly after she met her husband-to-be Bill, a merchant navy seaman. They became engaged and married in 1949.
The couple bought their first home in Chalk, where their daughter Marion, their only child, was born.
Tragically, Marion died from cancer at the age of 43.
“It was great fun. I lived in a caravan with three other women and we toured all over the place" - Glady on her days in the Land Army
Glady and Bill moved to Borstal, where they were keen members of the congregation of St Matthew’s Church.
Bill passed away in 2005 and she remained in their bungalow until the spring of this year, when she moved to the home Chimnies in Stoke Road.
Fittingly, her room looks out to the fields where she and her brothers and sisters used to spend their holidays and weekends.
She reads the Daily Express page to page every day to keep up with the latest news, and her favourite programme is Strictly Come Dancing.
Glady celebrated her birthday at the home with family and staff. And Peter and his wife Anne threw another party at their home.
Glady said: “I feel a bit like the Queen, having two birthday celebrations.”