KEEN local historian Noreen Freeman has died at the age of 98.

A former resident of Ryde, Newport and Carisbrooke, she spent her final years at Blackwater Mill Residential Home, where she died on October 31.

Born to Henry and Nellie McComb at Albany Barracks where her father, an Ulsterman serving with the Royal Ulster Rifles, was stationed, she also spent her childhood in Belfast and Germany.

She was a second child and had a younger brother, James. An elder sister, Gwendoline, died in infancy.

The family returned to the Island when Noreen’s father, on leaving the Army, was appointed manager of the recently built Ryde Airport and lived nearby in Elmfield.

In pre-war years she met with air pioneer Amy Johnson but it was her brother who had the privilege of flying with the pilot to Portsmouth.

After achieving good results at school, she became a cinema projectionist in Newport and was involved in showing military operation films to the Army personnel during the war.

The need to undertake war work saw Noreen become a welder in Southampton Docks, working on American craft.

Journeying back to Ryde from a night shift, she had a lucky escape as a late running train ensured she missed the paddle steamer Portsdown working the early morning mail boat on September 20, 1941. The vessel struck a mine off Southsea Castle with loss of life.

At 17, Noreen met Raymond Freeman and the couple married in 1944. They honeymooned locally and unexpectedly witnessed the departure of the shipping convoys heading to the French coast for the D-Day invasion.

Ray worked for an agricultural engineering firm which closed in 1950, whereupon he joined Southern Vectis as a fitter at its Newport depot.

The couple obtained a newly-built council house in Winston Road (which they eventually purchased) where they had children, David Henry in 1945, Jan in 1947, and Paul in 1953.

Sadly, Paul pre-deceased his mother in 2016.

David emigrated to Australia in 1969, as did Jan in 1997. Noreen and Ray took a number of holidays to see the family.

Ray died in 2001 after a marriage of 57 years.

Noreen, from a musical family, was a good pianist, and she enjoyed dancing, into her 80s, as well as knitting and cooking.

She worked for soft drinks manufacturer Gould, Hibberd and Randall in Church Litten and subsequently Corona and Glaxo who took over the firm.

In retirement she attended Glaxo retired employees’ luncheons and was a long-standing member of the Southern Vectis Retirement Association, acting as secretary for some years.

She was deeply interested in the history and buildings of Newport.

A funeral service was held at the Isle of Wight Crematorium.

Noreen leaves her surviving children, David and Jan, and their families, including eight grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.