VE Day anniversary celebration for Jantje, 93, survivor of Nazi occupation

Jantje Huggins being presented with Dutch tulips by Aimee Davey, at Spring Lodge care home in Woolverstone

Jantje Huggins being presented with Dutch tulips by activities coordinator Aimee Davey, at a VE Day celebration at Spring Lodge care home in Woolverstone - Credit: Kingsley Healthcare

A care home near Ipswich put on a VE Day anniversary celebration in honour of a resident who experienced the horrors of Nazi occupation. 

Jantje Huggins lives at Spring Lodge care home in Woolverstone, which had a special afternoon tea on Friday, May 7, to mark the eve of this year's 76th anniversary on May 8.

Jantje Huggins, 93, lived through Nazi occupation in Holland

Jantje Huggins, 93, lived through Nazi occupation in Holland - Credit: Kingsley Healthcare

The 93-year-old grew up in the Netherlands, and met husband, Stan, among the liberating Army - which she described as "the one good thing from this awful time."

It is now 75 years since she married the Royal Artillery despatch rider and started a new life in England.

Union Flags were displayed at Spring Lodge care home in Woolverstone to mark the VE Day anniversary

Union Flags were displayed at Spring Lodge care home in Woolverstone to mark the VE Day anniversary - Credit: Kingsley Healthcare

The home put up Union Flags for the VE Day anniversary, and staff dressed in red, white and blue.


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Mrs Huggins was presented with a bouquet of Dutch tulips and head chef Andy Gray, Kingsley Healthcare’s chef of the year, baked a Union Flag cake.

Jantje and Stan Huggins on their wedding day

Jantje and Stan Huggins on their wedding day - Credit: Kingsley Healthcare

Farmer's daughter Mrs Huggins grew up in a small village in the province of Groningen, near the German border.

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She said: “We had a happy childhood and, as we grew older, we helped too. In winter-time when the canals froze over I very much enjoyed ice skating with my friends.”

Jantje Huggins on her family's farm in the Netherlands in her youth

Jantje Huggins on her family's farm in the Netherlands in her youth - Credit: Kingsley Healthcare

When war arrived, her older brother and other teenage boys were sent to labour camps in Germany.

“My older sister and I were ordered to make German uniforms. We both refused and were held overnight," she recalled.

VE Day anniversary celebrations at Spring Lodge care home in Woolverstone, near Ipswich

VE Day anniversary celebrations at Spring Lodge care home in Woolverstone, near Ipswich - Credit: Kingsley Healthcare

“We were allowed home in the morning, to mother’s great joy. She was afraid we had also been sent to Germany.”

Mrs Huggins remembers her sadness at seeing Jewish shop owners rounded up and sent to concentration camps.

“The one good thing from this awful time was meeting my husband, Stan. We dated whenever we could and my family loved him,” she said.

“After coming back from leave in England, he asked to marry me and produced an engagement ring he had bought while on leave.”

Jantje Huggins and husband Stan as a young couple

Jantje Huggins and husband Stan as a young couple - Credit: Kingsley Healthcare

Her husband's family lived in Hackney and their first temporary home was with a relative in London, before they moved to a council flat.

When their daughter married and moved to Ipswich, the couple bought a bungalow in Stoke Park.

Early VE Day anniversary celebrations were held at Spring Lodge care home in Woolverstone, near Ipswich

Early VE Day anniversary celebrations were held at Spring Lodge care home in Woolverstone, near Ipswich - Credit: Kingsley Healthcare

A special Union Flag cake created by Spring Lodge care home's head chef Andy Gray

A special Union Flag cake created by Spring Lodge care home's head chef Andy Gray - Credit: Kingsley Healthcare

“My daughter had two children and it was lovely watching them grow up and marry,” she said.

Her husband sadly died in 1989 during a holiday in Holland.

Jantje has five great-grandchildren and in 2017 became a great great grandmother.

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