Wheathampstead woman congratulated for 50 years of service to older people

St Albans & Harpenden Review: Woman congratulated for 50 years of service to older people Woman congratulated for 50 years of service to older people

A Wheathampstead woman has been congratulated for over 50 years of service to older people.

The Mayor of St Albans Annie Brewster met Wartime Bletchley Park decrypter, Nonwy Maw on Monday, December 16 in the village’s Memorial Hall at the last meeting of Wheathampstead’s Senior Social Club.

Mrs Maw moved to Wheathampstead in 1958 and began her involvement with the Senior Social Club by giving lifts to some of the 80 members.

She has run the club for several decades, producing homemade lunches and teas, despite now being older than many of the attendees.

Attendance has now reduced to just four members, so 91-year old Mrs Maw has decided to retire. She plans to spend more time in her garden but does not intend to disappear completely from voluntary work.

Welsh by birth, Mrs Maw said: “The club has kept me active. Although this is our last meeting, I will stay in touch with the members, and will call one particular club member when Wales wins the rugby.”

Mrs Maw’s years in Wheathampstead are a great contrast to her previous life. During World War Two, she worked as a WREN and served at Bletchley Park as an operator of the bombe decryption device.

Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire was Britain's main decryption establishment during World War Two. Ciphers and codes of several Axis countries were decrypted including those generated by the German Enigma and Lorenz machines.

Mrs Maw’s late husband, Denys, took part in the 1944 prisoner of war breakout from Stalag Luft III Camp made famous by the 'Great Escape' film.

Mrs Maw told the Mayor that her husband was one of 80,000 POWs forced to trek across Europe for four months in 1945 in extreme winter conditions. Commonly known as 'The March', this gruelling experience succeeded in delaying the liberation of the western Allied prisoners of war held in German military prison camps.

The city’s Mayor said: “I am very honoured to come to the final gathering of this remarkable club. I want to thank Nonwy, the other committee members of the Senior Social Club and the volunteer drivers for brightening up so many people's lives over the years.

“You have made it possible for friendships to be formed and strengthened in the very heart of our community.

"I want to offer you my warmest congratulations for what you have achieved here in Wheathampstead.”

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