As the British monarchy heralds a new era, a former Abergavenny women, now Monmouth centenarian, has shared her memories of attending Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation in 1953 during a special birthday celebration.

Wenllian Hacket Pain, affectionally known as Wenks, turned 100-years-old on Monday 8 May - when the UK held a bank holiday to mark the Coronation of King Charles III.

The former tennis player, who now lives at Chippenham Court, marked her big day with an afternoon tea party on Friday (12 May).

Surrounded by fellow residents, family and friends, she was joined by the town’s MP and Secretary of State for Wales David Davies. They used to be next-door neighbours in Monkswell Road.

Mr Davies and Wenks talked fondly about the Coronation while admiring a card from the newly crowned King and his wife Queen Camilla.

“It was an absolute pleasure to attend Wenks’ birthday celebration and be part of such a momentous occasion,” said Mr Davies.

“Her husband, Major Wyndham Hacket Pain, fought with the Grenadier Guards in both North Africa and Italy. She told me how he became the British Grenadier with the longest continuous service on the front line during the Second World War and was honoured by being made a Gold Stick (personal attendant to the sovereign on ceremonial occasions) at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

“As a result, Wenks was privileged to be in Westminster Abbey for that Coronation and still has the stool which she sat upon during the service.”

Born in Neath, Wenks was the daughter of Sir Godfrey Llewellyn, a Swansea businessman who organised the 1958 Commonwealth Games held in Cardiff and was twice chairman of the Welsh Conservative Party.

Her family moved to Abergavenny a few years before the Second World War. When war broke out, she and a group of schoolgirls helped capture a suspected German spy. Wenks left school and went to work for the Commanding Officer at the barracks in Malpas near Newport before joining the Auxiliary Territorial Service – the women’s branch of the British Army – where she specialised in radar.

In her younger days, Wenks was an enthusiastic and good tennis player representing Monmouthshire on the county circuit during the late 1940s and early 1950s. She was also shortlisted to play for Wales and continues to have a keen interest in both tennis and cricket.  

Wenks claims the secret to a long life is keeping active.

 “Until the pandemic, she would walk into town every day from her home in Monmouth,” said her son Nick Hacket Pain.

“As she always says - as you get older, if you stop doing some physical activity you will no longer be able to do it!”