Last month, long-term resident at our Henleaze house, Kathleen Cuthbert, sadly passed away aged 96. Incredibly, it was only then that the amazing story of her involvement in allied success during World War II was allowed to come out.

When war broke out, Kathleen was a linguist who spoke fluent German. On her graduation in 1942 she was invited to be a translator, based at Bletchley Park: the top secret wartime Government department tasked with deciphering coded enemy communications.

After the war Kathleen and her colleagues were told never to talk of their work at Bletchley Park. However some have broken their silence over recent years, although Kathleen never spoke of it.

After the war she continued to expand her knowledge of languages and became a teacher of French. She also read to friends who had lost their sight; and gave her time to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. ¬†With her husband, Norman, she travelled widely, always continuing to learn enough of the language to communicate.

In 2010, Kathleen moved to Bristol to be nearer to her immediate family, and since then enjoyed seeing grandchildren and great-grandchildren grow up. She lived in Abbeyfield’s Henleaze house for 6 years before she passed away and team members remember her as a lovely, warm character. Says Suzanne McKenzie, manager of the Abbeyfield house, “We all miss Kathleen so much. She was a truly lovely lady; very kind and wonderful company”.

“After hearing about her life during the war, and what she must have done, I’m just blown away. I spent such a lot of time with Kathleen and she was clearly so modest, and so loyal, she never said a word. She’ll be remembered very fondly by all of us”, continued Suzanne.

Her life had all the ingredients of a fascinating biography, but her passing means we may never know the whole story. It was a privilege to know her.