Former Downing Street employee celebrates 102nd birthday in Rugby

Freda is pictured with her two sons, Ralph and Colin, and Drovers House activity and exercise coordinator, Morgan Sinclair.
Freda is pictured with her two sons, Ralph and Colin, and Drovers House activity and exercise coordinator, Morgan Sinclair.

A former member of staff at 10 Downing Street marked her 102nd birthday with a party at her home in Railway Terrace last week.

Freda Charlton, who lives at Drovers House care home, was born in the North-west in a village called Shotton in 1913.

She was the youngest of six children and, after marrying and having two sons Ralph and Colin, she moved to Coventry in 1941, where she worked at GEC.

Freda worked at 10 Downing Street during the era of Harold Wilson in the mid-1970s, and she remembers the former Labour Prime Minister’s Christmas parties well.

Freda said: “I’ve been very lucky in my life and one of the things I was fortunate to be a part of were Mr Wilson’s parties during my time at Downing Street.

“Of course, I never spoke to the Prime Minister at length, but I do remember him being a charming individual and popular among many of his staff.

“There were all sorts of interesting people who visited the Prime Minister’s home. I remember on one occasion watching the Trooping of the Colour from Downing Street’s garden with someone who I later learnt was an Arab prince.”

Freda retired aged 60, worked in a bakery, and was also the secretary of her local Women’s Institute.

It seems longevity runs in her family – as Freda’s great grandmother lived to 105.

Freda puts her good health down to healthy living, and points out that her and her sister, who lived to 100, were the only two of their siblings who were non-smokers.

Her advice to younger generations who wish to stay young is to be active, find a job that they enjoy, and stick at it.

Drovers House is run by not-for-profit care provider, WCS Care.