Penny’s big secret: I chose my parents very carefully!

Monday 30th May 2022 6:00 am
Madeleine Dowding of Alton U3A, Penny Carmichael and Alton U3A chairman Jim Bartholomew ()

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PENNY Carmichael, a former Wren, founding member of the Alton branch of the University of the Third Age (U3A) and long-time Herald letters correspondent, celebrated her 100th birthday yesterday (Wednesday).

The U3A presented her with a tub of beautiful flowers and honorary lifetime membership of the group when it met at Alton Community Centre last Friday.

Chairman Jim Bartholomew said: “Penny comes from a naval family and served as a Wren during the Second World War.

“She was matron at Lord Wandsworth College before she retired.

“She is a founding member of Alton U3A, joining in 1994, and started the Play Reading and Scottish Country Dancing groups.

“She continued as Play Reading group leader until a couple of years ago.

“An extremely wide range of plays has been tackled, from Shakespeare to modern farce: As You Like It to No Sex Please We’re British.”

Penny, of Wooteys Way in Alton, has kept scrapbooks and photo albums covering her ten decades.

She spent many years volunteering at the Cancer Research shop in Alton, giving up this role only when Covid forced the store to close in early 2020.

Mr Bartholomew described Penny as an “inexhaustible contributor” to the letters page of the Herald, and her brief, often single-sentence letters are proof that brevity is indeed the soul of wit.

Her granddaughter Louisa Richards said Penny had told her she had “quite the following” among readers of the paper, adding: “She has led the most interesting life.”

Asked to explain her long life and good health, Penny said: “Well, I chose my parents very carefully!”

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