SHE worked with Alan Turing at Bletchley Park, visited Russia under the Iron Curtain and narrowly escaped arrest in France at the outbreak of the Second World War.

And as Wenda Reynolds celebrates her 100th birthday today with a party at her former Oxford college, she is as busy as ever.

An active member of Hanney Wine Circle, Ms Reynolds, of West Hanney, is also having a party thrown for her on Sunday by friends in the village.

Born in Cardiff, the only child of GP Benn Reynolds and Helen Elizabeth Reynolds, the family later moved to Bletchley, Bucks.

A passion for literature led her to study English at St Hugh’s, Oxford, her only ambition being that “I knew I didn’t want to be a teacher”.

Aged 25, she went on a cycling holiday in northern France in the late summer of 1939 as the Second World War broke out.

Walking with a friend along the coast, they climbed over a hill and were confronted by “a little French soldier with a gun, gabbling at us”.

“Dennis, being a fool, said ‘we didn’t know it was verboten’, and of course at that German word he went off.

“We were taken to a guard room and they ripped the film out of our cameras. I said ‘I’m not going to be arrested’ and went for help.”

Luckily for them, a French army captain helped them out by explaining they were English, rather than German.

One of Wenda’s first jobs saw her working in administration at the Royal College of Surgeons in London.

One morning she came into work to find her offices had been bombed.

“I remember when the London docks were bombed, we went up on the roof and you could see it burning for days.”

In 1940, Ms Reynolds took a job at Bletchley Park, headquarters of the government’s Code and Cypher School.

Her job was to find new recruits and interview applicants. Like all staff, she was sworn to secrecy about her work.

Among her colleagues was the brilliant mathematician and code breaker Alan Turing.

She said: “He used to pass by my window when he went to lunch. He was very shy and withdrawn, always looking down at the ground.

“He had a girlfriend then, but that didn’t work out.”

Oxford Mail:

Wenda as a young woman

She also worked in administration at London’s Bedford College, the Arts Council and the Architectural Association.

She always picked jobs, she said, that allowed her time to travel, and went on holidays to Russia, South and North America, China, Japan, and cruised around the Mediterranean and Antarctica.

After retiring in 1975, Ms Reynolds moved to the house in West Hanney where she has been ever since.

On the subject of turning 100, she said: “I don’t mind too much, because things can only get worse for the country.

“People do things less for the common good, people need to start being a little more high-minded.”

The woman whose only career aspiration was that she never wanted to become a teacher, has, however, urged more people to join the “invaluable” profession.

Ms Reynolds never married or had any children.

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