"Kind and generous" Rona celebrates 101st birthday

LOCAL resident and long-serving member of the Royal British Legion Women's Section, Rona Thomas, celebrated her 101st birthday on 27th June.

Thursday, 1st July 2010, 12:16 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 8:15 pm

Rona's family brought her to Bexhill when she was ninety and she and resides at Gavin Astor Court, a move which according to son James gave her a "new lease of life."

He added: " She made many new friends and really enjoys Gavin Astor Court, especially their weekly Bingo sessions."

Born Elsie Rona Rackstraw in 1909 in the village of Sands near High Wycombe, Rona had four sisters, five brothers and three step sisters.

Leaving school at fourteen, at the time when High Wycombe was the centre of the English furniture making business, Rona began her career as an upholsteress in a local furniture factory.

Working her way up the ladder she was to become a forewoman in charge of the upholstery section, overseeing both men and women.

Rona married ex-Welsh coal miner Thomas West Thomas in 1929, and son James was born in 1934.

During World War Two the couple both served their country.

Thomas joined the RAF and became a corporal in bomb disposal. He landed in Normandy on D. Day and helped clear mines and booby traps on the beaches.

Rona's upholstery skills and expertise with a sewing needle were put to good use and she helped the war effort making canvas gas masks.

Following the war Rona returned to the furniture trade and made high quality chairs until her retirement at the age of sixty.

Thomas passed away in 1981 and Rona moved into sheltered accommodation in High Wycombe, before moving to Bexhill.

Rona is an active member of the Royal British Legion Women's Section Bexhill-on-Sea and regularly attends their meetings.

James said his mum has never smoked, occasionally has a small glass of her favourite tipple, Baileys, watches the 'Soaps' but thinks most TV is "rubbish" and asked for a Chinese meal for her birthday dinner

Commenting on reaching 101 years of age Rona said:

"I have no idea how I've lived this long. I cannot believe I've lived this length of time!"

James said:

"Maybe it is just a reward for being a kind and generous person, who has spent her long life putting other people before herself."