Family tribute to 'young-at-heart' Dorothy, 105
- Credit: Margaret Greenhalgh
Dorothy Luxton died peacefully in her sleep on January 7, 2021. She was 105 years old.
She leaves behind a family of two daughters, two sons-in-law, seven grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.
Dorothy was born in Eastbourne on February 18, 1915. She had two brothers, Bernard who was four, and Jack, who was two. Her father, Percy was a gardener at Folkington Manor, and her mother Kate was a seamstress.
During the First World War, Percy enrolled in the 12th Service Battalion, of the Royal Sussex Regiment, as a Private. When Percy went to war, Dorothy and the children moved back to her own large family in Sidbury. This was to be where Kate grew up. Percy managed to visit his young family there once on leave. Sadly, he was killed on June 30, 1916, at the age of 27. When a plaque was mounted later in Sidbury Church in honour of her dad Percy, Dorothy remembered being lifted up and told, “That is your daddy.”
Dorothy and Bernard attended Sidbury School until they were 14 years old. One day, when she was older, Dorothy and her friend Vera were on Sidmouth beach when Dorothy spotted a handsome young man who was on holiday from Enfield. The young man’s name was Peter. He spent the next four years driving between Enfield and Sidbury until they married on Easter Monday April 10, 1939 at Sidbury Church. The reception was held in the village hall. Vera and her fiancé Frank also got married later that year.
Tragedy struck both of Dorothy’s brothers in the years that followed. Bernard had married Barbara Hawks in 1938 while Jack and Joan married in 1937, and had two daughters Sandra and Elizabeth. Tragically, in 1939, before Elizabeth was born, Jack was killed flying an aircraft full of explosives between Driffield and Catterick. During the war, Dorothy’s other brother, Bernard worked at an aircraft factory, where he contracted tuberculosis. He too, died in 1946.
Peter worked for The Royal Ordnance factories, and their first home was in Enfield. When Dorothy found that she was pregnant, they agreed that she should return to Sidbury and have the baby. At the moment Margaret was born, Exeter was being bombed, and there were planes flying over Sidbury. Many more moves followed. They lived in Worcester, Hirwaun in Wales, Alsager in Stoke on Trent, Chorley, and Abergavenny. Each of the locations were close to Royal Ordnance Factories where Peter was working. Over the next ten years, they had two more daughters, Gillian and Elizabeth. After the girls married and moved away, Margaret to Australia, Singapore and South Africa and Gillian to Bermuda, exciting holidays began. Peter and Dorothy celebrated their Ruby Anniversary in Bali.
Peter retired in 1975 and the couple were able to move back to Devon. They bought a bungalow in Barnhayes, very close to where their lifelong friends Vera and Frank lived. Peter died in 2007, and Dorothy being the independent lady she was remained in her home in Barnhayes.
In September 2013 she moved into Rose Lawn Care Home and settled in immediately, joining in with many of the activities there. In 2015 she celebrated her 100th birthday. She received a card from the Queen and a telegram from the Home Secretary. Later, she loved being taken into town in a wheelchair.
She had a famous sense of humour. On her 100th birthday she was heard to say, “I can’t die yet - my bus pass hasn’t run out!” On being taken to hospital when she was well over 100, she said to the ambulance crew, “I hope you don’t find that I am pregnant!” Recently, she giggled as she asked one of her daughters “If you get married again, can I be a bridesmaid? “
She never believed that she was 105 and always maintained that her family had got their calculations wrong. She always said she felt twenty years younger than she actually was.