100th birthday marked with letter from football royalty

A LETTER from the Queen marking her 100th birthday was an honour, but a personal greeting from Liverpool Football Club’s manager was the icing on the cake for Catherine Henderson.

The fervent Reds fan from Mayford was thrilled that Jurgen Klopp had written and signed a card for her.

Catherine Henderson with her card from Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp

Catherine, who lives in an annex attached to the home of her daughter Elaine Evans and son-in-law Nick, celebrated her birthday recently, although the coronavirus crisis drastically reduced the number of guests planned to be present.

“Despite that, it was a memorable day,” said Elaine. “Thanks to technology, she was in touch with various members of the family and friends. “We made the best of the day and mum was overwhelmed with cards and good wishes.

“The highlight of the day was the arrival of the card from the Queen and, as a staunch fan of Liverpool FC, a birthday card personally written and signed by Jurgen Klopp.”

Catherine was born Catherine Bignell in 1920 at Tenterden, Kent, one of five children. She was working in her father’s fish shop at the outbreak of the Second World War, but later decided to join the WAAF – Women’s Auxiliary Air Force – as a barrage balloon operator.

Catherine also received a card from Her Majesty the Queen

She then volunteered to be a driver, but senior staff switched her to train as an engineer to work on aircraft engines, as it was felt “her hands would be very flexible from filleting fish”.

Catherine was posted to RAF Hawarden in North Wales. There, she met and married Liverpudlian Albert Henderson, a member of the ground crew and an ardent Liverpool FC supporter.

Albert remained in the RAF after the war and was posted to Ceylon, joined by Catherine and their baby daughter.

The couple went on to have another daughter and a son, leading a typical service life until Albert retired after 29 years and the family returned to live in Liverpool – and the opportunity to go to Liverpool matches. Catherine moved to Mayford after Albert died 16 years ago.

When asked how she managed to look so young at the aged of 100, she replied: “Clean living and a lot of naughtiness.”

The family hope to hold the celebration that was originally planned later this year, when the coronavirus crisis is over.

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