Orpington’s very own royal connection

91-year old Peggy Clark has followed the life of Her Majesty the Queen more closely than most. Mrs Clark was born on April 21, 1925, exactly one year before The Queen and has shared many life experiences with her since.

Mrs Clark, who lives at Churchill Retirement Living’s Atkins Lodge in Orpington, is a big fan of The Queen. She said: “I think she’s great and she’s done a wonderful job. She took on the role for life and she’s doing really well and she must be tired now. I get tired – you do if you’re in your 90s, whether you’re Royal or not!”

Mrs Clark remembers the war well. She said: “I was 15 when the war broke out. I remember the bombing. I was the youngest of a large family – the baby. At 18 you were either called up for service or worked in something to do with the war effort. I chose to stay with my mum and dad and work in the munitions factory in St Marylebone. The Queen was in uniform. We all did our bit.”

It was in the factory that Mrs Clark met Jim, who would become her husband.

She said: “We got married in 1946 and the Queen and Prince Phillip married the year after us. I was lucky to have a proper wedding dress. One of my sisters, who was seven years older than me, had bought the material to make her dress before the war. But her fiancé got called up and they got married quickly before he went to war, so the material was saved for me. We made my dress and I borrowed a veil. It was lovely.”

Like the Queen, Mrs Clark lived in the same house for all her married life. She said: “We moved to Kingsbury, near Wembley Park, to a lovely little house and had two wonderful sons – David and Peter. I lived there for 60 years. Sadly I lost Jim when he was 77. It would have been our 70th Wedding Anniversary on June 1 this year – but we had 52 years together, we were very lucky.”

Unlike the Queen, Mrs Clark has moved to a more manageable home at Churchill Retirement Living’s age exclusive development – Atkins Lodge, in Orpington – and is enjoying her new lifestyle.

She said: “I loved my house and I had brilliant neighbours, but I had a couple of falls. I was fine until I broke my hip and then my family and I decided I needed somewhere more manageable. Atkins Lodge is great, I love it!

“There’s so much going on here too. I am much busier. We have singing for fun – where we sing all the old songs and have a real laugh. We have coffee mornings and afternoon teas. We even had a party for the Queen’s 90th birthday – and as it was my 91st birthday too, I got spoilt rotten. My home was filled with flowers and we had a big cake – it was wonderful. Esther Rantzen even visited and joined the celebrations. I would recommend it to the Queen!”

Atkins Lodge, on High Street in Orpington, is a stylish collection of 50 one and two bedroom, privately-owned, retirement apartments. Each apartment has been designed exclusively for those in their retirement years and has a number of safety and security features, such as a 24 hour emergency call line and a video entry system, for complete peace of mind. For more information, please call 01689 414 778.