Knowing your neighbours: Meet George Aston, 102 years young with plenty of stories to tell!
At the beginning of this year, before lockdown restrictions were imposed, we had the pleasure of meeting one of our most senior residents – and we were captivated by his life stories!
“It’s hard to believe that it ever happened,” says George, as he reflects on his former working life.
The 102-year-old – thought to be our oldest resident – served in intelligence at Bletchley Park, the historic centre of Allied code-breaking during the Second World War.
It was there that Alan Turing and his team famously cracked the German Enigma code, greatly helping the Allies secure victory. This remarkable feat was brought to life in an Oscar nominated film, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley.
Speaking to us 80 years on from his time there (while stressing that he has signed many an Official Secrets Act!), George described it as ‘surreal’.
His dedication has been commemorated in the form of medals and inclusion on the Codebreaker’s Wall at Bletchley.
“I still remember when the brown envelope arrived and told me that I was being conscripted,” he added.
“More is being understood about Bletchley now, all these years on. It’s incredible to think that 9,000 operatives passed through in that time.”
Another brown envelope arrived for Mr Aston recently, but its contents provoked an entirely different reaction.
“An eight year old girl named Jessica – who is my great, great niece – recently wrote to me. She has based her school project on Bletchley and my service.”
“That’s the best letter I’ve received in a long time. She is taking my medals in to show her classmates!”
George, originally from Dorset, moved to St Austell after meeting his second wife, Betty, while on
holiday to the Isles of Scilly. They had both lost their first partners to illness and found love again with each other.
His first marriage lasted for 40 years, as did his second. Betty passed away last August, aged 99.
George’s advice for people growing up in 2020 is simply to ‘slow down’. “There’s a terrible pace to everything,” he adds.
“The world today has a lot going for it, but it’s lost a lot on the way. We’ve gone from having horse and carts to putting a man on the moon, but basic principles and manners have gone.”
‘Good, old-fashioned and honest food’ is what George puts his good health and longevity down to. Tripe, onions and dumplings are regular favourites and he makes sure to fast every Saturday.
With a cheeky smile George gestures to his pile of completed puzzle pull-outs and adds: “See, I’m a crazy man for crosswords”, as he continues to carry on codebreaking.
We hope you enjoyed our short interview with George. To find out more, and read the special stories of other residents, follow our StreetTalk residents and tenants magazine.
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