'She just loved life' - Tributes to Peggy, 101, who got in the swim in her 90s
- Credit: Archant
A daughter has paid tribute to her much-loved mum, Peggy Hicks, a former nursing auxiliary who has died aged 101.
Diane Green said of her mum Peggy, who lived at Anchor's The Firs care home in Felixstowe: "She just loved life. She was so sociable and active - she loved company.
"She always took a pride in herself and always had her nails done and things like that."
Peggy won swimming competitions as a teenager and hit the headlines in 2011 when she got back in the swim at the age of 91.
Care assistant Claire Martin accompanied her into the water at Felixstowe Leisure Centre - and was shocked when she shot off as soon as she was in the pool.
"It's wonderful to be back in the water again," Peggy said at the time. Her swim featured in this newspaper, and she was also filmed swimming for ITV's Anglia News programme.
Peggy enjoyed a glass of wine and for most of her life was also a smoker, after starting at the age of 17, but gave up in her 90s.
She had been a resident at The Firs for 11 years, and in February this year, staff helped her to celebrate turning 101 with bubbly and her favourite chocolate buttons.
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Diane was not able to go to see her mum on her big day because of Covid restrictions, but joined her on a video call.
At the time, manager Susan Gibson described her as a "lovely person" and told how she always liked to take part in activities at the home.
Peggy was born on February 7, 1920, and grew up in Stowmarket.
Diane said: "When she was 17, her parents bought her a car so she could drive, which was very unusual at that time. She always remembered the number plate, BMU 864.
"She used to drive her mother to London for afternoon tea at the Lyons Corner House."
The following year, at 18, she met her future husband, Dudley, when he came to work in the Eastern Electricity office next door.
Diane said: "He was driving along in his car and saw my mum, and he said, 'That's the lady I am going to marry.'
After their wedding, the couple moved to Newbury in Berkshire, where their son David was born. They then moved back to Suffolk and lived in Ipswich, where Diane was born, eight years after her brother.
"Mum really enjoyed life. She and Dad used to go to the Ipswich Gaumont to see classical concerts every month on a Sunday afternoon," her daughter said.
"She trained as a hairdresser, but didn't continue with that because of the war, but she went on doing it for friends and family."
Peggy later worked as a nursing auxiliary at Ipswich Hospital. "She loved nursing," Diane said.
"When my dad retired, they moved to Felixstowe and she worked at Felixstowe Hospital."
When Dudley became ill with cancer, Peggy left work to nurse him at home, and he sadly passed away when she was 53.
About seven years after her husband's death, she met Brad, who became her partner.
"They were together for 30 years, and it was lovely because they did a lot together," Diane said.
"They were able to go abroad to Greece, Spain and Portugal, which was lovely for her."
After Brad passed away in 2009, Peggy continued to live at their bungalow in Trimley St Mary. Then in 2010 she had a lucky escape when a fire ripped through the lounge.
She was unaware of the drama at the time because she was at her next-door neighbour’s house, enjoying their daily cup of coffee.
Following the fire, the next year she moved into The Firs, where she was very happy and took part in a wide range of activities over the years.
Diane said the staff at The Firs had thought a lot of Peggy. "The care home staff were wonderful and I can't praise them highly enough."
Following a fall four years ago, she had to use a wheelchair for her last few years and she also had memory problems, but she still loved to go in the lounge at the home and be with other people.
She leaves her two children, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Peggy Hicks's funeral service is being held at St Peter and St Paul's Church, Felixstowe, on December 23. Donations to The Firs Care Home can be sent to East of England Co-operative Funeral Service, 183 Hamilton Road, Felixstowe IP11 7DT.