Ashford Memorial Gardens Photo: Peter Trimming

Plans are underway to honour a very special member of Ashford’s community, as Mrs Joyce Dawes celebrates her 105th birthday on Tuesday 3 May 2022.

A ceremony will take place at 11am on the day of Joyce’s milestone birthday, where a Liquidambar tree will be planted at the Memorial Gardens. This is part of the Queen’s Green Canopy Project to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee year.

This event will not only celebrate Joyce’s wonderful life, but also serve as a tribute to her father, Lieutenant Alexander Cowling. During the Great War, he was killed by an artillery shell on 26 April 1918, whilst successfully defending the village of Voormezele in Belgium at one of the last battles at Ypres. 

Mrs Dawes is quite possibly the last person still living who lost a father in action, in World War One. Residents of Ashford have the opportunity to visit the Memorial Gardens and reflect on an everlasting piece of Ashford’s proud historical roots.

The tree planting ceremony will also see a plaque unveiled and presented by the Mayor of Ashford, Cllr Callum Knowles and the Executive Leader of Ashford Borough Council Cllr Gerry Clarkson CBE.

Cllr Andrew Buchanan, Portfolio Holder for Environment and Land Management, said: “I have known Joyce for a good number of years and it is amazing that she has lived to such an astonishing age.

“She has survived two world wars and two pandemics. The trilogy of marking a milestone birthday, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and a permanent memorial to a soldier who died fighting for his country over 105 years ago is a unique and moving occasion.”

Residents are most welcome to attend the event at the Memorial Gardens at 11am on 3 May. Ashford Borough Council’s Communications Team will also be encouraging everyone to join in on the celebrations via social media, where a collective ‘Happy Birthday’ message will be passed onto Joyce and her daughter Leita with a montage of warm wishes from the community.

By Ed

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