Royal gift as Hout Bay’s Peggy turns 100

The Freeman family.

There may not seem to be a lot to celebrate right now, but Hout Bay’s Margaret Freeman managed to squeak in her centenary bash just before the lockdown.

Margaret, or Peggy as she’s better known, celebrated her 100th innings at special lunch with family and friends.

“On waking, I realised I’d made it and wondered how much longer am I carrying on for,” Peggy said.

Peggy and her late identical twin sister, Barbara (Babs), were born in Goodmayes, Ilford, in the London borough of Redbridge, England, on March 17 1920 to Harry and Mildred Coe.

Both sisters started working at Queen’s Hospital for Children when they were 17, but they couldn’t get formal nursing qualifications until they turned 21 which is when they went to University College Hospital to do general training.

They qualified as registered state nurses at the age of 23.

“I wanted to be a nurse ever since I was 6!,” Peggy said.

She married World War II bomber pilot George Freeman in 1946. They had two sons, Malcolm and Robert (Bob), before emigrating to Southern Rhodesia where George worked for the country’s post and telecommunications service.

Babs on the other hand emigrated to Northern Rhodesia as part of a nursing programme and married Colin Armstrong. Both have since died.

George and Peggy’s third son, Richard, was born in Southern Rhodesia in 1953. All three sons were married within a year of each other and emigrated to South Africa at different times.

Peggy and George retired to Port Elizabeth in 1982.

George died in 1997, and a few years later, Peggy moved to Johannesburg to live with Malcolm, his wife, Sue, and their children.

Malcolm died in 2012 after suffering brain cancer.

Peggy has macular degeneration and relies on a hearing aid, but despite these limitations she finds ways to keep herself busy.

“I feel content as I am so well looked after, but not being able to see and hear limits what I am able to do. However, I listen to Tape Aids for the Blind and I’ve liked playing Patience with cards all my life.”

Peggy lives half the time with Bob and his wife, Merry, in Plumstead and the other half with Richard and his wife, Sue, in Hout Bay, where she celebrated her 100th birthday.

Her crowning moment for her 100th birthday arrived from England in royal fashion.

Peggy received a personally signed birthday card from Queen Elizabeth II. It arrived on March 24, much to Peggy’s joy.

The centenarian says she holds no secrets to a long life, and when asked whether she and her sister had played pranks on people, she replied: “No, we were so very shy. We didn’t really need friends and we were each other’s best friend.”