August 2014 – The Royal Star & Garter Homes celebrated the 100th birthday of Surbiton resident, Violet Butler, on 11 August. Staff at the Surbiton Home held a big party for her with family, friends, residents, staff and volunteers all wishing her well. A magician mingled with the guests, who enjoyed champagne, a cream tea and a big cake!
Vi grew up in Putney and later moved to Chiswick to live with her husband William Charles Butler, known to her as ‘Big Ben’, on account of his height.
The couple met at a local dance and were married in 1938. They had two children, Colin and Bruce. Ben was called up in 1940 and sent to France. He was granted compassionate leave to return home to attend Colin’s birth. Vi recalls that he was shocked to witness the hard times people back at home were having, with rationing and queuing, but he didn’t talk about his time in France. Ben later returned to France where he was involved in the D-Day landings of 1944. Ben’s body was discovered on 19 June 1944, two weeks after the D-Day landings and was buried at Tilly-sur-Seulles. Vi has been able to visit her husband’s grave on several occasions.
After Ben died, Vi had only five shillings to her name. The Army gave her a payment to tide her over and she worked hard, maintaining many jobs to support her sons, including working for Marks & Spencer in Chiswick. Vi recalls her time working for the company with great affection. Employees from the Surbiton branch came to Vi’s party and the company kindly donated cream teas for all.
Vi has been a much-loved resident of The Royal Star & Garter Homes since 2011. Activities & Welfare Manager, Heather Robinson, said: “Vi is wonderful and is loved by everyone. She’s so interested in everything and is immensely charming to chat to. You can feel her wealth of experience and her warmth when you talk with her. We’re really excited to be celebrating her special birthday. Happy 100th birthday, Vi!”
When asked how she felt on celebrating such a momentous birthday, Vi commented: “I can’t believe that I’m going to be one hundred years old. I’ve told all the ladies on my dining table that I’m the boss now!”