Constance (Connie) Ireland, 103, lives at Connaught Court in York. She moved to the Home in 2017.
Connie was born 6th September 1921 in Luton, the only child of George (a painter and decorator) and Edith (nursemaid to a family and later a school dinner lady).
Although they lived in the town, many of her relatives had jobs in farming, her grandfather was a shepherd and her grandmother and some of her aunts were straw plaiters for the local hat industry.
At 14 years old, Connie left school to become and apprentice in ladies fashion working in a family run department store in Luton. Apprentices were not allowed to serve customers and one of the first things she had to do was to tidy the clothes on display and comb the collars. She returned to ladies fashion jobs throughout her life retiring in her early 60’s.
When Connie was twenty, she went to the Local Electricity Board as a general clerk, and when WW2 broke out, she was initially classed as in a reserved occupation.
Connie was engaged to be married to a childhood sweetheart and with her wedding dress ready in the wardrobe, she received news that he was ‘missing in action’ when his RAF aircraft didn’t reach its destination. She was devastated and broken hearted, but had to be resilient as the war was still happening
In 1942, Connie was called up into the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service), and worked as an administrative clerk in the stores department issuing rations and other supplies to the troops.
Falling in love
Connie met her husband when they were both stationed at Longmoor Camp in Hampshire. The conductor of the choral society was rehearsing the chorus for a production of “Merry England” by Edward German and needed someone to sing in the cues for the part of Raleigh.
Looking back, Connie recalls:
At one point Raleigh enters singing, “My heart is plighted to this gentle maid, in secret I have paid my past addresses”. The gentle maid in question is Bessie Throgmorton, the heroine, and she was sung by what he thought was a rather good looking ATS girl who, at the interval, came across and asked if he would like a “cup of tea and a bun Sir?”
I was playing the role of Bessie and there began a relationship that never looked back. As my son said ‘not a bad chat up line’. We married in 1948 and spent our honeymoon at Brixham in Devon.
They settled in Hull and had two children, before moving to Plymouth in 1972. Connie worked successfully in local boutique fashion stores, putting to use her experience and knowledge.
In June 2017, Connie sadly lost Antony, just before their 69th wedding anniversary. She moved back to Yorkshire to be closer to her family and moved to Connaught Court in October 2017.