Sarah Collings, Reporter
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
A spirited 98-year-old former teacher and ardent royalist from Sidmouth has received a personal letter from the Queen in thanks for the poem she sent the monarch to congratulate her on her Diamond Jubilee.
Marjorie Hodnett, who lives in Abbeyfield Court just off the Esplanade in Station Road, has fond memories of the Coronation- and was encouraged to share them in verse by her writing group, the Poetry Readers.
“I was quite elated” said the author of Sixty Glorious Years, “I never expected to receive a reply.
“I didn’t really want to send it but everybody thought it was quite good and kept on about it so in the end I did- and now I’m glad I did!”
She received personal thanks from the Queen’s lady in waiting, on distinctive Buckingham Palace notepaper, which, the erudite pensioner says, has not changed for a century.
Mrs Hodnett first glimpsed “exactly the same” stationery sent by George V in 1918 to a friend’s father who had been a prisoner of war.
“Not everyone gets a personal note with a personal message,” she added, “so the Queen must have really liked my poem!”
Born in 1914, Mrs Hodnett sang in the London Olympics choir in 1948 and lived as a subject of George V, Edward VIII and George VI.
But it is the longevity of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, starting in 1952, which stands out and which the amateur poet praised in her Jubilee missive.
“I remember the coronation very well,” said Mrs Hodnett. “I was doing the ironing at home and listening on the radio because we didn’t have TV.
“No-one expected her to stay for so long, but she has and over the years she has conducted herself with integrity and vocation. “I’m very glad we don’t have an elected president but instead someone to stand aloof from politics.”
How she looked after her grandsons after Princess Diana’s death was particularly admirable, added Mrs Hodnett, who was a deputy head teacher at All Saints School until her retirement in 1974.
Since then the 98-year-old has busily painted watercolours, crafted tapestries and penned poetry, inspired by the view from her window over the Station Road croquet lawns and Fortfield cricket pitch.