Village comes together to help Westfield resident enjoy ‘wonderful’ 100th birthday

Westfield resident Joan Downing celebrated her 100th birthday last Friday on a perfect sunny day.

Joan has been part of countless village, district and county organisations since moving to Westfield with her husband Harold more than fifty years ago, so it was fitting that the village wanted to help her celebrate this landmark birthday.

Joan’s service to the community was marked by the award of the British Empire Medal in 2015, and she proudly wore her medal for the day.

Westfield Community Association and Parish Council had decorated a gazebo with balloons and banners ready for invited friends to gather on Joan’s front lawn. Joan’s daughter and son were also able to be with her, together with some younger family members. Another daughter rang from her home in Texas with birthday greetings.

Joan Downing SUS-210721-124006001

The postman arrived with ‘The Card’ from HM the Queen just before the party started. Joan had hoped someone from the village might remember her birthday, but was totally unaware of the lovely surprise party which awaited her

As a past Parish Councillor (‘Joan’s’ bench outside the Community Hall marked her forty years as a Parish Councillor in 2014), and founder member, now President, of the WCA, she had a lot of people waiting to congratulate her and there was a lot of catching up to do after the restrictions of last sixteen month.

Children from Westfield School arrived to sing some songs, ending with a rousing ‘Happy Birthday’ and three cheers. Then Hamish Monro (Parish Council) and Annie Nijhuis (WCA) said a few words and presented Joan with an orchid and a gift hamper respectively. Amidst applause Joan cut a beautiful celebration cake made by Guide Leader Sally Cruttenden and decorated by Alison May. Pieces were distributed and glasses filled with bubbly for a birthday toast. Joan thanked everyone for making it such a wonderful day.

Joan’s birthday afternoon was somewhat quieter, with a chance to rest and reflect among the 100 or so cards displayed in her sitting room.

Other organisations paid their own birthday tributes, and there is a Women’s Institute tea party yet to come. Joan has always been involved in Girlguiding and earlier in the week she was particularly delighted when Westfield Guides and Brownies visited after their meeting to sing for her, in uniform - with some girls modelling old-fashioned uniforms - and parading with the Union flag she had given them for camp.

In her words ‘What a wonderful birthday!’