Meet the WREN who says secret to long life is ‘gin and tonic’ as she celebrates 100th birthday

Maeve holds a Charles and Camilla card
-Credit: (Image: Bupa Care Homes)

A Second World War Navy veteran has celebrated her 100th birthday and on the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings, she revealed her secret to longevity. Maeve Moon, from Camberley, served in the WRENS (Women's Royal Naval Service) for five years during the war.

Maeve was 15 years old when war was declared, she later worked as a wireless operator, deciphering Morse code and after leaving the WRENS she assessed the damage of bombed properties. She recalls scaling buildings, climbing across rooftops and scaffolding while hanging on to chimneys, taking notes for her boss Oliver Chessington at GK Architects in Kensington.

In 1948, Maeve met her husband John, a soldier. Despite spending most of her adult life in Camberley, Maeve is originally of Irish descent and was born in India, and so were her two sons. After the war, John and Maeve married, moved to Bombay (now Mumbai), and had two children, Christopher and Nick.


John worked for P&O so the two travelled by sea, and spent a lot of time abroad, especially in Singapore. Maeve says she enjoyed growing up in India, she mostly enjoyed the warm weather, colours and culture. She said: “It’s all about the company you keep that makes the place enjoyable."

Maeve, who turned 100 years old in May, said: “I had a wonderful day celebrating my 100th birthday, I was certainly spoiled. Thank you to everyone who helped make it so special.”

When asked what her secret to a long and happy life was, she said: “I have to say my secret to longevity is enjoying the occasional gin and tonic!”

After the death of John, Maeve’s grandson, Jack, came to live with her at her Camberley home. He would often come home to find her gardening late into the night with a head torch and a gin in hand. Maeve prefers Gordons London Dry Gin, a favourite tipple with a splash of Martini Rosso.

In 1960, the young family settled in Camberley, where Maeve stayed until she moved to Collingwood Grange Bupa Care Home in 2022. She said Camberley has changed dramatically since she first moved there and has become more populated. She added it boomed with shops but has slowly died down, losing some of the bigger classics like BHS and House of Fraser.

Maeve has seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren spread around the world living in the UK, Spain, Canada, and Nigeria.

Maria Waters, home manager at Collingwood Grange Bupa Care Home said: “We are so happy to have been able to share Maeve’s birthday celebrations with her. Celebrating milestones and achievements is incredibly important to us at Collingwood Grange, it boosts the well-being of all our residents.”

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