Bessie Brooke, centenarian

Bessie Brooke, who has died at 102, was the oldest resident of Spofforth, between Harrogate and Wetherby. She had lived there for half her life and remained an active member of the community.

Bessie Brooke
Bessie Brooke

She was born in Dewsbury, shortly before the start of the Battle of the Somme.

By the time she was 10, she had been through the wringer, almost literally, losing the tip of her wedding ring finger in a mangle, having been knocked down by a lorry and being plucked from the River Calder.

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She married Harry Brooke in May 1940, and when he went to Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire, as one of Britain’s classified codebreakers, she worked at Appleyards back in Leeds, wiring lights on the wings of Fairey Swordfish biplane torpedo bombers.

By 1950 she was living in Upper Batley and was the mother of two children, Janet and Malcolm.

She took an interest in woodwork – a pastime considered so unusual for a woman in the early 1960s that she was made the subject of a newspaper article.

Widowed for 18 years, she is survived by her children and four grandchildren.