As part of our #RealPeople #RealLives campaign we’re sharing the life stories and talents of just some of our amazing Retirement Living residents.
This particular article is all about the wonderful Catharina…
Catharina has been a valued resident at our Harmsworth Court scheme in Kent for over 26 years and has an amazing life story.
She grew up in Amsterdam and had just turned five when WWII started. Her parents ran a tobacconist and her father would often be away supporting the resistance movement.
Betrayals were a regular occurrence there, and neighbours would often be dragged into the streets and shot or taken to concentration camps, so she learned to be discrete at a very early age.
Catharina played her part by carrying fake ID papers in her school satchel, often being called to the headmaster’s office she made children think she was naughty.
The family took pride in their small acts of defiance hiding the best tobacco and cigars under her pram.
Food was short, and Catharina and her mother would trade jewellery for potatoes, which were often confiscated by the German soldiers and all they had left to eat were tulip bulbs (fried boiled and mashed). Catharina declared her love for England at 12 when she visited a friend and after training as a nurse in Utrecht she came back to the UK in her 20s.
Now 85, Catharina still smiles as she recalls Amsterdam and is glad to say all she does with tulips now ‘is grow them – not eat them!’