Canadian resident 100-year-old Kay Blowes remembers her home town Romford
A remarkable Romford dancer who has lived in Canada for 55 years but still says “cor blimey” is celebrating 100 years on her feet.
Kay Blowes marked her birthday at home in Ontario with 100 friends and family members – but says she is still a Romford girl deep down.
“England is where I was born and it will always have a piece of my heart,” she said. “I haven’t bothered to change my accent – I still say ‘cor blimey’.”
Kay was born in St Bart’s Hospital, and lived in Eastern Avenue, Romford, and Carter Drive, Collier Row with her husband Stan – whom she met at the King’s Head in Romford Market – and three children.
“My husband was a beautiful dancer,” Kay remembers. “We used to go dancing at the Nimbus above the market where they sold towels and sheets.”
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Stan and Kay, whose trademark steps were the foxtrot and the tango, certainly the competition through their paces, once winning 29 trophies in 18 months – and receiving an award in 1953 from ballroom dancer and million-selling band leader Victor Silvester.
Stan sadly died five years ago, but Kay still enjoys line dancing, as well as taking part in bingo and coach trips to landmarks like Niagara Falls.
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“This is a beautiful country,” she said. “When I go back to England, everywhere seems narrow by comparison.”
But the Romford of Kay’s youth is rather different from today’s Havering district. “My daughter goes home every couple of years and she says I wouldn’t know Romford now.
“When I visited recently I got told off because I was sorting the tomatoes in the market. You’re allowed to pick them and sort them out here – but not over there.”
Back in the day, Kay also remembers a celebrity neighbour. “Vera Lynn’s auntie and uncle used to live next door to me in Romford,” she said. “She used to come by in her limousine.”
But it wasn’t all glamour. Before leaving Britain with her family so her brother-in-law could find work, Kay lived through two wars. “My daughter was born in March 1939 and war broke out in September, so I used to have to carry her around in a box,” she remembers.
Now with three children, eight grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren, Kay herself is well looked-after.
“I’m in really good spirits to be 100,” she said. “I’ve had a good life.”