East Ham woman’s 90th birthday coincided with Olympics opening

10:00 31 July 2012

Sylvia pictured at her home with daughter Helen. Picture: Steve Poston

Sylvia pictured at her home with daughter Helen. Picture: Steve Poston

Archant

She saw King George V, remembers the Second World War, the accession of Queen Elizabeth II and her subsquent jubilees.

Sylvia with her first daughterSylvia with her first daughter

Now, Sylvia Power has celebrated her 90th birthday. And by a happy coincidence it fell Friday, on the day the London 2012 Olympics opened.

However happy is not an adjective she would use to describe her life during which she was widowed twice and left to raise her four children alone.

Her first husband died during World War Two, just months before it ended, leaving her with a tiny baby, her first daughter Helen. As a war widow in Manor Park she was denied council housing by the authorities who said she and her daughter were not a family.

She finally found a place to live with the help of one of her sisters but ended up sending her daughter to boarding school as she had to go out to work. The memories are so painful they bring tears despite the many years that have passed.

Although Sylvia remarried John Power in 1954 she was widowed again when he died in March 1970. Sylvia was left to raise four children by herself.

Now she is the grandmother of eight and the great grandmother to a great grand daughter.

Sylvia, who lives in Wilson Road, East Ham, is looking forward to watching the Olympic Games on TV and is philosophical about her life.

She told the Recorder she will be celebrating her birthday a week earlier at West Ham’s grounds in Upton Park with family and friends.

Sylvia is a stauncg supporter of the club and was a long time friend of the mother of David Gold.

She will be joined by her children, Jonathan, 46, Anne Kelly, 52, David, 56, and Helen, 67, their families and friends.

She is the youngest of seven sisters born in Bow. They have all passed away.

Sylvia remembers that it was “love at first sight” when she met her first husband Ralph Cummins during the Second World War while evacauted to Somerset.

He was with the Somerset Light Infantry and was home on leave in 1942 when they met at a party. Sylvia was working for the Air Ministry. The couple married in 1942 at St Barnabas Church in High Street South, East Ham.

Sylvia’s eldest daughter Helen Walton, 67, said: “I just think its a historical occasion for the family and its worth marking. We weren’t aware of the date until last year but its amazing.”

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