Honor Graham, who lives in Walton, Chesterfield, was elected Labour councillor for Ealing in 1974. During her 17 years in office her main interests were supporting the elderly and young children. She worked closely with Neil Kinnock, now Lord Kinnock, Hillary Benn and Sir George Young.
In 1989 Honor was elected Mayor of Ealing, with her husband Charles as consort. Honor and Charles hosted visits by Diana, Princess of Wales and Lech Walensa, former President of the Republic of Poland. Honor said: “Princess Diana was wonderful and despite tight security insisted on speaking to all the children lined up to see her. I shall never forget standing with Lech Walensa on the steps of Ealing Town Hall - he was surrounded by school children playing their violins and played along with them.”
Honor was presented with the MBE for services to the community in 1992 at Buckingham Palace during a ceremony attended by her husband Charles, daughter Colleen and grandson Darren. Honor said: “When I received the phone call from the palace I really thought it was a prank! Of course, meeting the Queen was wonderful when she awarded me the MBE.”
Born in Southall, Middlesex to Frederick and May Moss on September 16, 1923, Honor and her parents lived above a butcher’s shop which her father owned.
Honor left school at 14 and her first job was in a drawing office. During the war she helped her parents run the shop.
In 1941 she married Charles Graham who had moved to Southall from South Shields to find work. Charles completed rigorous training at Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire before he was accepted into the 2nd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment. After fierce fighting and witnessing significant loss of life during airborne operations in North Africa, Charles was captured and taken prisoner of war. He spent most of his two and a half years' incarceration in Stalag 4b PoW camp in Germany. Charles escaped five times and during his final attempt successfully met up with the advancing Americans.
Reunited, Honor and Charles had three children, Dinah, Charles and Colleen.
Honor looked after their young family before returning to work. Her career included managing Electricity Board showrooms and working for the Civil Service. She very much enjoyed her role as a PA in the Southall Customs and Excise office.
For many years Honor was a senior leader with the St John Ambulance Brigade.
Charles mainly worked in aircraft engineering and was proud to have been involved in the construction of Concorde.
The couple’s eldest daughter and son emigrated to New Zealand in the 1970s where their parents enjoyed visiting their growing families.
In 1991 as her husband’s health began to deteriorate, Honor and Charles moved to Whitstable to be closer to their younger daughter, Colleen, who lived with her family in Canterbury. Sadly, Charles died in 1995.
Honor said: “I met Charles when I was 14 and he always encouraged me to be my own person and not to be afraid to face up to life's challenges. I have always tried to look on the bright side of life rather than dwell on the difficulties."
Four years ago Colleen and her husband Jim Howard moved to Chesterfield to be nearer to their daughter Libby and family. Honor was happy to move with them but fiercely resisted any idea of living with her daughter and son-in-law in Chesterfield so a bungalow close to their new home was found for her.
Colleen said: "She embraced the change and loves living in Chesterfield. She often remarks how green everywhere is with all the trees and surrounding countryside. She enjoys her trips out, particularly to Chatsworth, to local garden centres and to the Chesterfield town centre."
Honor, who has six grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren, always enjoys family get-togethers. She said: “My family has always been the mainstay of my life - the grandchildren continue to give me so much joy.”
She was visited by family from New Zealand for her 100th birthday. A party was held at her daughter’s home where Colleen made a birthday cake and Libby’s Cafe, Chatsworth Road, did the catering. Lord Kinnock was among those who sent their good wishes to Honor.
The celebrations included an invitation to the Mayor's Parlour in Chesterfield Town Hall during the first week in September where Honor was accompanied by close family.
Honor, whose hobbies include reading and crocheting, added: "I still enjoy my evening tipple of a glass of red wine, many years ago my doctor said it would do me good!”