Former Twyford teacher celebrates 100th birthday with family Zoom call

A retired teacher who previously taught in Twyford and spent her early life near Buckingham Palace celebrated her 100th birthday on Sunday November 22.

Joan Rackley who currently lives at a nursing home in Cookham Dean, received a card from the Queen to mark the milestone.

She celebrated her day with a Zoom meeting with her family, featuring some of her nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Joan was also treated to a slideshow of old photos which included some of her favourite war time songs.

Growing up, Joan spent her early life in Belgravia near Buckingham Palace.

Her daughter Patsy Smith said: “Our mother said she remembers seeing the nanny wheeling out the royal baby. The Bowes-Lyon family, the Queen Mother’s, were neighbours.

“The Queen’s 100th birthday card was from the very baby our mother saw being wheeled round London.”

Joan, who attended Henley Grammar School and taking up the role of captain in hockey and tennis, left school in 1938, later working as an untrained teacher.

Following the start of World War Two, Joan started working at the Ministry of Food at Reading Town Hall, sending out ration books and fire watching on the roof of the town hall during the air raids.

She later joined the Women’s Land Army at Suttons Seeds in Early where she helped to make seeds to ensure everyone could dig for victory growing vegetables.

Joan also looked after the working shire horses Laddie and Jolly.

Following the war, Joan trained as a teacher and subsequently married her husband Ted Rackley in 1948 and they lived together in Charvil and have three children.

Joan taught at New Town Primary, the former Grovelands Primary in Reading, and spent 16 years teaching at Polehampton Infant School, before retiring in 1980.

She was an active devotee of Girl Guiding in Twyford and celebrated her 90th birthday by taking a flying lesson and piloting a light aircraft over the Sussex coast, despite having never stepped foot in a plane before.

She continued being active, however, with the onset of dementia, Joan moved into Harwood House Nursing Home in Cookham Dean in 2014.

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