Former dressmaker Kath celebrates 100th birthday in Royston
- Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO
A former dressmaker and avid reader of the Crow is celebrating turning 100 today at her Royston home.
Edith Kathleen Barrett – known as ‘Kath’ – was born in Kentish Town just before the end of the First World War.
Her daughter Margaret told the Crow: “They lived in three rooms, and mum said it was always busy, but they just got on with it – they didn’t know any different.
Kath was the oldest of five children – two boys and three girls – and because her mum was left some money by Kath’s grandmother, the family were able to move to a “lovely village” at that time, called Haringey.
Kath went to the village school, where she excelled and won a scholarship for further study – but had to leave to earn money to help her family, so she became a machinist.
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Seamstress Kath’s talent saw her open a shop in Potters Bar, where she moved to as an adult and lived for 20 years.
She became well-known in the town for her hard work, and had many loyal clients.
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Some of the customers at Trina Lou couture dressmaking business in High Street were the families of theatre producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh and mountaineer Chris Bonington.
Margaret said: “Even though mum was quite poor and was struggling to bring up three children as a single mum, she was up at 5am every day to walk to work.
“She worked hard and people knew her for that.”
Kath married Jack Barrett in 1964, and welcomed son Peter, who is now 59 and little brother to Kath’s older children Ken, now 78, and Margaret, 75. “That was mum’s happiest time,” said Margaret.
“Jack had daughters as well, so she had two stepchildren and then had Peter.”
“Sadly, Jack died 14 years after they married.”
Kath had her business in Potters Bar until she retired at 61 – something Margaret had to persuade her to do. She then moved to Royston, where she was secretary for Evergreen Social Club.
Kath now has five grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. Margaret said she is a fantastic grandparent.
When she was 95 her sight deteriorated so she can no longer sew, but keeps her mind active by listening to quiz shows on the television – and getting people to read out crossword questions.
“She’s always read the Crow, and now one of the ladies who comes to see her brings the Crow on Fridays and reads it to her.”
Regarding the secret to her long life, Kath has always had a drink of “whisky, gin or sherry every day.”
And about her big birthday, for which Kath has received a card from the Queen and many cards from her family and the community, she told the Crow: “It has been lovely. I have been waited on hand and foot.”
Many happy returns Kath, from everyone at the Crow.