A BORN and bred Teessider, who was a 'secret listener' during the war and met Princess Diana, is celebrating her 100th birthday.

Middlesbrough born and bred Bridget Mary, known as Bridie, left St Mary’s Convent Grammar School at 17 and joined ICI in Billingham as a filing clerk in 1938.

Conscripted during the war, as a member of 63 Squadron of the ATS she was selected for special training as a wireless operator on the Isle of Man. Bridie spent the next few years at Queen Ethelburga’s school in Harrogate. Each day she travelled to Blubberhouse Moor where she and her colleagues were ‘secret listeners’. They intercepted German signals, converting them from Morse Code for interpretation at Bletchley Park.

After the war Bridie went back to ICI, and by 1946 she was a supervisor in the Management Services Division. It was the start of a long career. She moved through various sections including Organisation and Methods, the Education Department and the Agricultural Division, becoming a senior personnel officer with a special responsibility for 650 mostly female staff. She retired in 1976 and prides herself on having lived longer off her ICI pension than she ever did on her salary at Billingham.

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As an active member of Soroptimists International Bridie travelled widely and once had tea with a royal princess in Thailand, as well as meeting Princess Diana when she opened the Teesside Hospice Day Care Centre in 1988. Bridie remains a supporter of the Hospice, and was also a mentor for Vietnamese refugees back the 1980s.

A devout Catholic who attended Mass daily for many years at St Francis of Assisi in Acklam, Bridie never married. Asked once if she had ever considered becoming a nun, she said 'I never found an order that would let me smoke, drink gin, and come out in the summer'.

Proud of her Irish ancestry Bridie spent her school summer holidays with family in Craignamanagh, County Carlow, which she visited with relatives for the last time shortly before her 90th birthday.

Bridie now lives in Nunthorpe Hall Retirement Home, within sight of Roseberry Topping.

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