Ronald Basil Girdler

1925 - 2017

Helene Girdler

1927 - 2020

Peggy Louise Bowdery

A Brief Life Story

Peggy was born March 7th 1930, at home, in 22 Courtway, Colindale; a home she remembered fondly throughout her life and even more so in the past few years as she tried to recall people and places that were important to her.

Peggy went to Hendon County School but her education was interrupted when at age 11 she was involved in a traffic accident in Colindale high street when she was hit by a trolley bus. For those not old enough to remember, this was an electric bus that looked very similar to current London buses but it drew electricity via poles on the roof from two overhead power lines that ran along major London streets and in this case along the length of the Edgeware Road from Stanmore to Hyde Park Corner. Peggy spent many weeks in hospital losing school time and suffering life-long problems with her hearing.

Peggy’s early years were also plagued by WWII during which time she, and her brother Ron, frequently spent many hours with their parents in an Anderson Shelter in their back garden to shelter from the bombs being dropped on London.

When she left school she became a Secretary before she met a handsome Grenadier Guard by the name of Gordon Bowdery whom she married on 22nd September 1951. Peggy and Gordon spent the first 2 years of their married life with her parents at 22 Courtway and it was here that their son Jeff was born. During this time they set up a grocers shop in Burnt Oak but Gordon was an engineer at heart and he returned to this career at Fridgidaire in Edgeware Road before moving to Hemel Hempstead as part of the New Towns initiative where they rented 12 Pond Road before buying the property in 1971.  It was here that Pam was born and where they spent their entire married life.

Peggy continued her education at night school and became an accomplished shorthand typist working a large part of her working career at John Dickinson, a paper manufacturer in Hemel Hempstead, in their export department. She later became an administrator at Feldon Farm where she was responsible for recording and managing the documentation for the animals bought, born and sold. She would probably have worked there until retirement but for her Mother, Louise suffering a haemorrhage and dying suddenly in 1968 which meant her father, Arthur, who had himself had a stroke 2 years earlier and needed her care, came to live with them until his death in 1972.

Peggy and Gordon extended the family with the addition of Sandy, a Jack Russell dog with plenty of attitude!.  He would take a dislike to random people for no reason at all with a snarl or a bark and would never obey commands, yet Peggy loved the dog and would relish a long walk whenever the opportunity arose.

Gordon worked until he was 70, a self-appointed milestone he was determined to reach. Sadly his health deteriorated quickly after this and he was diagnosed with severe emphysema which meant he needed oxygen and constant care. Typically, Peggy stepped up to the plate and nursed him for several years before he died at age 79.

As well as Jeff and Pam. Peggy leaves 4 grandchildren whom she loved very much and of whom she was very proud, Claire, Emma, Gary and Richard, each of whom made her a great grandmother; a fact she would drop into conversations with many of her friends and neighbours.

Peggy and Gordon loved to play cards and took great pleasure in teaching their children and grandchildren classics like Rummy, Kings and Newmarket, all for matchsticks of course!  It always made visits to them memorable and party games like quizzes, charades and Pelmanism (ironically a memory game) were firmly on the agenda at family Christmas’s. Then, if we stayed over, tea and digestive biscuits were delivered in bed in the morning.

She was wonderfully sociable with everyone and joined several ‘clubs’ in retirement. She loved to dance and would always ‘partner’ her friends to maximise her time on the dance floor. She was an unelected judge of Strictly Come Dancing too – she would religiously score the dances to compare against the officials score later.   Her favourite ‘tipple’ was a Rum and Pep and more latterly a schooner of sherry became the preferred drink, probably due to those ‘special’ occasions when Gordon and Peggy (and sometimes the children) would visit the local Berni Inn, The Tudor Tavern in St Albans where a Prawn Cocktail always started her meal.

She also loved her crosswords which Jeff & Pam would assist with if she got one of those tricky clues. She adored morning coffee and afternoon tea, and if Wimbledon was being televised, she was on cloud 9!

Peggy was diagnosed with Vascular Dementia in January 2019 but was able, with help, to stay at home until June of that year when a fall meant she needed full time care. Peggy spent 2 happy years at Milton Court Care Home until she lost her battle with the disease in May 2021

Remarkably, despite being unable to remember substantial parts of her life, she could still do her party piece – she could recite the alphabet backwards – and did so frequently!  She could also remember the words to some of the wartime songs and would sing to Pam and Jeff during visits to her at Milton Court.

Extracted from her Eulogy written by Jeff Bowdery