Staff at Stanton Court Care and Nursing home near Stanton Drew have set themselves an unusual challenge for a resident turning 102 years old on the 18th of March 2023. The staff and relatives have set themselves a goal of receiving 102 birthday cards to give to Petronelle as a surprise on her big day.
“Petronelle loves reading & receiving letters” explained Home Manager Wendy Perkins. “We know having 102 cards would make her so happy on her birthday, we are keen to get everyone involved in the challenge”. If you want to help the team at Stanton Court achieve their goal of getting 102 birthday cards for Petronelle’s 102nd birthday please send your card to ‘Petronelle’ c/o Stanton Court Care & Nursing Home, Stanton Drew, near Chew Magna, Bristol, BS39 4ER.
Petronelle has had a long and interesting life, she was born in Hyeres in the South of France in March 1921. She grew up with her mother Mary, father, George and older brother Charles. Her father was an Army Officer and mother Mary came from a family of Royal Navy Officers.
Petronelle’s mother was extremely intelligent and taught her children to be fluent in both French and English from an early age. The siblings also learnt the Greek alphabet before the English version. As a family they were all very bright and due to their peripatetic lifestyle had to be home schooled in their early childhood. The whole family was also very musical. Petronelle’s brother was a keen trumpet player, and her mother played the piano. Petronelle was able to learn the piano by ear.
School life was a struggle for Petronelle, but she found being sporty had its advantages and became captain of the cricket team. When Petronelle left school, she worked in a boarding school for girls teaching English in Poland.
But this came to a sudden stop when a European political situation and threat of war occurred. She quickly moved back to England in 1938 and applied for a job at the BBC where she was accepted as a shorthand typist. She later worked within their copyright and broadcasting areas. After work each day Petronelle would trawl through the bomb torn streets of London as she was adamant, she didn’t want to sleep in the underground like everyone else. Petronelle commented ‘I would rather go down with the building than be buried underneath it’. The sights and sounds of the Blitz became part of Petronelle’s everyday existence.
Fortunately, when the family’s home was sadly bombed, everyone was out. They were all devastated, especially Charles who had lost his trumpet. Petronelle commented ‘the strangest part about it all was that our telephone had stayed intact, and when we were searching through the ruins, it rang. Someone was phoning to say the trumpet had been located a few streets away!’.
A few years later Petronelle entered the WAAF as an ordinary service woman and not an officer as she wanted to do the job and not give orders. She became a leading aircraftswoman, after her basic training she went to fighter command where she became one of the plotting table girls. Then finally she went on to be a radar operator.
After 1961 she went back to teaching English in a boarding school for girls. In early 1970 Petronelle moved to Salisbury where she enjoyed her time riding her bike and playing her many musical instruments. Then finally in 1980 Petronelle decided to move to Somerset when she entered her 90’s and moved into Stanton Court Care Home where she has settled nicely.