Sidmouth hotelier celebrates 100th birthday

PUBLISHED: 12:00 04 December 2019

Frances Meek celebrates her 100th birthday with family and friends. Ref shs 49 19TI 5487. Picture: Terry Ife

Frances Meek celebrates her 100th birthday with family and friends. Ref shs 49 19TI 5487. Picture: Terry Ife

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A Sidmouth hotelier who was determined to provide a 'wonderful' hotel in Sidmouth during war time has celebrated a landmark birthday.

Frances Meek celebrates her 100th birthday with family and friends. Ref shs 49 19TI 5478. Picture: Terry IfeFrances Meek celebrates her 100th birthday with family and friends. Ref shs 49 19TI 5478. Picture: Terry Ife

Frances Meek celebrated her 100th birthday on Monday (December 2) with close family and friends at the Belmont Hotel.

Known affectionately as 'GG', the great-grandmother of seven ran the Marlborough Hotel, now Dukes, for 35 years with her husband Douglas.

Born in Glasgow, Mrs Meek met her husband aged 16 when he was working on the Queen of Scots Pullman rail service between London King's Cross and Glasgow Queen Street.

They married in September 1939, shortly before the outbreak of World War Two.

Frances Meek celebrates her 100th birthday with family and friends. Ref shs 49 19TI 5501. Picture: Terry IfeFrances Meek celebrates her 100th birthday with family and friends. Ref shs 49 19TI 5501. Picture: Terry Ife

The newly-weds would then be separated for five years while Mr Meek fought in the western desert with the Third Royal Tank Regiment.

During the war, Mrs Meek continued working as a supervisor in the office of the Rolls Royce factory which produced Merlin engines for Spitfire fighter planes.

The couple moved to Sidmouth and took over the seafront hotel in 1947.

One of the more well-known guests was George Parker - a shipbuilder who oversaw the building and launch of the QE2 in Clydebank yard - who stopped for food at the Marlborough restaurant when doing national service at the Honiton barracks, but missed the last bus back.

Frances Meek celebrates her 100th birthday with her sons Christopher and Melvyn and daughter June. Ref shs 49 19TI 5497. Picture: Terry IfeFrances Meek celebrates her 100th birthday with her sons Christopher and Melvyn and daughter June. Ref shs 49 19TI 5497. Picture: Terry Ife

Mrs Meek's grandson-in-law Richard Wynn said: "As a Scotsman and marine, Frances and Douglas took sympathy on him and dropped him back at the barracks. They stayed in contact for many years.

"Determined is a word used to describe GG.

"She says so herself. Throughout difficult times during the war and then the demands of creating a wonderful hotel in Sidmouth, she's always been resolute."

They also started up the Jacobs Ladder beach kiosk as part of a council initiative to improve the town's facilities for visitors.

The kiosk is now run by their middle-son Christopher.

Mr Meek died in 2005, but Mrs Meek continued to live in Sidmouth with members of her family close by.

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