MRS HILDA WILSON 100 YEARS OLD
When Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne on 6th February 1952 Hilda Wilson was 41 years old and had already lived under three Monarchs. Hilda who is fond of the Royal family told me that it was King George V and Queen Mary who made a real difference to people’s attitude towards the Monarchy. The Royal Couple who took on the name of Windsor went out of their way to meet people of all walks of life and showed that they cared. Hilda watched Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation in 1953 on a friend’s television, and of course loved every minute of Prince William’s wedding, this time on her own TV, two months short of her 100th birthday. It was therefore a great honour for Hilda on the 16th June 2011 when she received a birthday card to mark her very special birthday from HM Queen and it has pride of place.
Hilda Wilson came to Petersfield 12 years ago from Blackburn, in order to be near her only daughter, who lives in Clanfield. The highlight of her life was when her two grandchildren were born and who now have families of their own, producing four great-grand children under the age of 12, another great joy in her life. The family gave her a wonderful birthday party last June with all the members of the family and friends, and a photo album of her life was made for the occasion charting Hilda’s long and interesting life. She also received an Apostolic Blessing which she treasures from His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI ‘praying that God will grant [Hilda] the gifts of love and happiness’.
Hilda started life in Lancashire where at the age of 14, she left school to work in the local cotton mills using cotton imported from India. Hilda explained that the automatic looms ‘changed things’, causing workers to be laid off, and also India started building their own cotton factories, after Gandhi had made a visit to the Lancashire factories in 1931 during the Indian boycott of cotton goods. Some of the old weavers had tried to tell him how bad things were on his visit. He simply replied: "My dear, you have no idea what poverty is." During the Second World War Hilda, now married, continued to work on the looms and then in an ammunition factory. She left the looms for several years when her daughter was born in 1942, but later was forced to leave the industry when she had an accident, falling on a wire in the factory and injuring her leg. During this time out of work she spent much of her time helping others, even nursing a close friend for months until the day she died. As fate had it in 1958, Hilda, sadly widowed, was offered and accepted to buy a Drapers’ shop and flat. She ran a successful business for 11 years with the help also of a sister, until redevelopment in the area forced its closure. Hilda said, ‘There were customers in tears when we left!’ After a short spell in Scotland where her daughter had moved with her new husband, Hilda returned to her roots for a further 17 years before moving down South.
Nowadays Hilda enjoys reading romances, listening to music and watching Quiz Shows. A parishioner of St Laurence Catholic Church, she has a strong faith, praying daily. Her mother used to tell her as a teenager to get home before 10pm on the Saturday evenings, reminding her that there was Holy Communion the next morning! Her extended family visit and phone her regularly and she enjoys the social coffee mornings at Burgesmead House where she lives. Before I left, I had to ask the clichéd question: ‘What is your secret to live such a long life?’ Hilda replied with a twinkle, ‘I’ve danced my life away, from 15 till 80!’ She loved ballroom dancing, attending classes during the week and dancing every weekend. As I left this lovely sweet woman, I felt that the Pope’s wishes of ‘love and happiness’ had already been richly fulfilled in Hilda’s remarkable life.
Ann Saunders 01730 300241
July - September 2018
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