Family and friends are the perfect present as Hettie celebrates big day in Dunmow care home

PUBLISHED: 08:15 15 April 2019

Hettie Wilson with the mayor and mayoress of Dunmow, Cllr Barrie Easter and Margaret Easter. Picture: ARCHANT

Hettie Wilson with the mayor and mayoress of Dunmow, Cllr Barrie Easter and Margaret Easter. Picture: ARCHANT


A great-grandmother and former seamstress celebrated her 100th birthday on Monday (April 8).

Hettie Wilson, known by many as Rene, is a resident at Croft House care home in Dunmow having been born in High Roding in 1919, growing up on her family’s farm.

During a party held on her birthday, Mrs Wilson, dressed in a pair of salmon coloured trousers and a crisp white pussybow shirt, reminisced about her childhood.

She said: “We had to walk to school every day and for Sunday school. It was a mile to the nearest school and two miles to Sunday school.”

When asked if she liked school, Mrs Wilson laughed and smiled, responding simply with a “no”.

After school she and her brother would have a little time to play before they were given jobs to do on the farm.

After leaving school at 16, she worked as a seamstress in Chelmsford.

Asked what led her to become a seamstress, she said: “I always wanted to do it. I was always making dolls’ clothes and things like that. I used to make all my own clothes and clothes for my mother.”

At 23, and three years after the Second World War began, Mrs Wilson was married. Remarkably, she still remembers the style of her dress in detail.

She said: “I had a short, cream, shantung dress. It was made from a special material I had kept for a long time. I wanted to sew my own but I wasn’t allowed to because they said it was unlucky.

“It was short because the war was coming and I think they were cutting down. Everything was being cut down,” she added.

During the war, Mrs Wilson worked on her family’s farm.

“I remember sitting up and waiting for the doodle bugs to come over the farm,” she says, recalling that three bombs were dropped on the fields but, miraculously, nobody was hurt.

She said she didn’t think much about politics, when asked how Britain had changed since she was young.

“I just live my own life and let other people get on with theirs,” she said.

Mrs Wilson’s family and friends were among those who attended on Monday to wish her a happy birthday which, she said, was the perfect present. “I didn’t want any presents. People coming to see me, that is enough for me.”

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