Former Derbyshire school secretary celebrates 100th birthday

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A former headteacher’s secretary for schools in Matlock celebrated her 100th birthday surrounded by family and friends last week.

Darley Dale resident Dorothy Ash, who spent many years working at Matlock County Junior and Infant Schools – now Castle View Primary – marked the milestone on Wednesday, May 10, with an afternoon tea party at local restaurant Barringtons, hosted by daughters Glennys Heathcote and Maureen Russell, then a trip to Thornbridge Hall for more tea and cake the following day.

Glennys, who grew up to be a secondary school teacher and now lives in Belper, said: “Everyone said that it was really nice to have a family gathering for a happy occasion, rather than a sad one.”

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Born in London as an only child, Dorothy moved to Matlock in 1945 when she married Raymond Ash, a well-known local shoe repairer who had two shops on Smedley Street – one of which is due to reopen soon as a podiatrist, where Dorothy will be honoured with one of the first appointments.

Dorothy Ash with her birthday card from the King and Queen.Dorothy Ash with her birthday card from the King and Queen.
Dorothy Ash with her birthday card from the King and Queen.

The couple first set up home on the newly-built Hurst Farm Estate, living next door to fellow Londoner Betty Hancock, her husband Ray and their six children, striking up family friendships which continue today with several of the Hancocks attending the party, much to Dorothy’s delight.

Her role at the school allowed Dorothy plenty of time at home to raise her daughters, but she took equal pride in her work.

Glennys said: “She loved her job. Over the decades she must have encountered hundreds of children just as they were starting out in school life, and she would accompany them on trips to London because she knew her way around. There will be lots of people in the Matlock community who remember her.”

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Outside of their respective day jobs, both Dorothy and Raymond were keen members of the Matlock Camera Club in the 1960s and 1970s, and she was keenly involved in St Mary the Virgin’s Church, South Darley, and its Mother’s Union until her mobility became more restricted.

A passionate gardener, Dorothy loves nothing more than to potter about in her garden, even while suffering arthritis and two shoulder replacements in the past decade – and Glennys thinks keeping active has been key to her mum’s long life.

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