Former school teacher chalks up 100 years

A former school teacher and netball coach from Brookfield who survived the bombing blitz in England during World War II is one of Queensland’s newest centenarians.

Margaret Holloway, who lives at the Carinity Brookfield Green aged care community, turned 100 on October 7.

She became a member of a very exclusive club – one of around 4,250 centenarians in Australia.

During her life, Margaret has witnessed the world at war, man landing on the moon, the invention of television and the advent of the computer age.

Born in Oulton, a tiny village in Yorkshire, England in 1919, Margaret was one of six siblings. She only went to school for a few years before working as a farm labourer.

“My mother lived through the depression but because they were farmers they had enough to live on,” Margaret’s daughter Francoise Masterman says.

Margaret was a high school geography teacher for most of her life, spoke German and French proficiently and coached netball at school and university.

“I lived in quite peculiar times because I was born right at the end of World War I in 1919 and lived through World War II when it was in Europe,” Margaret says.

“I saw Hitler. I had a German pen pal and I did a student exchange to Germany in 1936 and we went to Berlin to attend the Olympic Games and Hitler was there.”

When she was in her early-20s Margaret wanted to serve her country by undertaking war service during World War II.

“Four siblings were involved in military action during the war including one brother who was a captain in the navy and one who was a fighter pilot,” Francoise says.

“My mother wanted to contribute to the war effort but due to the shortage of teachers at that time, she was urged to teach.

“While she was studying at the University of Sheffield the city was bombed heavily by the Germans because Sheffield was where a lot of the steel was made. A couple of times during the bombings she had to hide.”

Margaret spent most of her life in England before migrating to Australia in 1970 at the age of 50, to be near her only daughter.

She settled at Wynnum, where she lived in her own home until the age of 97 and taught at nearby Moreton Bay College.

“Mum has always been full of activity. When she lived at Wynnum she taught an aqua aerobics class for seniors until she was about 94,” Francoise says.

Margaret still visits her friends in Wynnum and also phones and writes to her two surviving younger brothers in England on a regular basis.

Margaret married twice. Her first husband, a Frenchman named Georges Gleyze who was a member of the Free French military force during World War II, died soon after the war.

Margaret Holloway cuts her 100th birthday cake.

Around the time Margaret migrated to Australia she married Queensland man Sid Holloway, who has since passed away.

Margaret has one daughter, three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Her hobbies have included sketching and painting, crafts such as knitting and crochet, exercising and swimming. She currently enjoys reading, history, walking and doing crosswords and loves to receive visits from animals.

“Margaret has a very enquiring mind and loves to chat about her days as a teacher during the war and after,” Carinity Brookfield Green Residential Manager Wendy Crack says.

Margaret celebrated her milestone 100th birthday with a party with family at Kenmore last weekend, followed by a morning tea with friends at Carinity Brookfield Green today.

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