100-year-old poet George was Monty’s signalman
Springwood Retirement Village, on the outskirts of Kelso, reached a very special landmark on Friday, as its oldest resident became the first to reach 100 years of age.
George Trigg was delighted to receive his telegram from the queen as several of his neighbours celebrated the occasion in a socially-distant party outside his home.
George was born in Middlesex on April 30 in 1921.
In 1938, he joined the TA’s London Irish Rifles, aged 17, and found he had some talent as a signaller, later joining the 27th armoured division doing just that, serving with none other than Field Marshall Montgomery.
He recalled: “I was a porter in a block of flats in London before the war, but when I joined the army I was trained up as a wireless operator and signalman.
"We had codex units, which we put the messages through, and then took them to Montgomery.
"I remember Monty had a glass of milk every day before breakfast and always used to say his prayers.
"He had his own cow, and his own veterinary surgeon.”
George was found to be so good with communications, it formed the basis of his working life after the war, as he joined BT as a telephone engineer.
He said: “My captain told me there was no way I was going to go back to being a porter after the war, and he was right.”
He met the love of his life, Betty, when he was stationed in Penrith after the war.
They married in 1946 and were happily married for 70 years, until Betty sadly died in 2015. The couple had moved to Springwood village in 1991, as two of the settlement’s first residents.
On being the first centenarian in the village, he said: “It’s quite a remarkable thing, really. It is a lovely place to live.
However, he said life has not been the same for him since her passing, one of the saddest parts of enjoying long life himself.
He said: “Being without Betty, it’s not been too great. She was the love of my life.”
However, George had some tips for anyone else who wants to live a long and happy life.
He said: “Keep fit, walk every day, eat all the right things, and don’t drink too much.
“The odd dram is fine, just don’t overdo it.”
His next door neighbour, Cathy Wilson, said: “He is an amazing man.
“I’m really honoured to be living next door to him.
“Every day he’s out in his garden, and every day he’s out walking.
“He puts the rest of us to shame, he really does.”
George enjoys gardening, another hobby which he says helps him keep fit, and is also quite the poet.
He told us he wrote a poem following the death of Colonel Sir Tom Moore and Prince Philip “and for my time, too, when it comes”, and recited it off by heart. It goes:
Salute me with the flags raised high, for I choose this moment, now to die;
My comrades ‘neath the Poppy’s eye, in some far distant field.
Forgive me Lord, as I stand, I see the blood upon my hands;
Of battles fought, so long ago, against some foreign foe.
So as I live, so will I die, no need for tears, no need to cry;
Salute me, with the flags raised high, for I choose this moment, now to die.