Holbeach resident Hilda Millett yesterday (Wednesday) celebrated another one of her “big birthdays” – her 108th, to be precise.
Hilda is 101st on Britain’s list of people who have lived for a century or more, the oldest being 113.
“Here I am at over 100 years old,” she said. “I can’t believe it. When I think back, I can’t believe where all the years have gone.”
Her room at Mayfield Residential Home in Holbeach is filled with photographs of family, including a holiday snap taken in Morcambe of Hilda with siblings Joe, Jack and Emily.
Hilda’s father, Walter, was an accountant who had served in the Boer War as a mounted policeman, and her grammar-school educated mum, Margaret, was “very clever too” and had run a high class milliner shop.
Born in Crossgates, Leeds, Hilda left school when she was about 14 to give her mum a helping hand at home.
He was a very nice husband. Harry and I had all the anniversaries, including the diamond.Hilda Millett
“When I was 16 my father saw an advert in the Yorkshire Post that Thornton and Co were looking for a young lady in the sports department,” said Hilda. “They wanted a young lady for the cash desk. I was always fairly good at arithmetic at school.”
It was a big store with the ladies’ department on the first floor and, after working there for 12 years, Hilda treated herself to a wonderful camel hair coat to mark her wedding in 1937 to Harry Millett, whom she met at junior Conservatives.
Harry, an industrial chemist, gained his PhD from Leeds University.
Hilda said: “He was a very nice husband. Harry and I had all the anniversaries, including the diamond.”
The couple settled in Long Sutton in 1970, following Harry’s retirement.
Harry died in 1998 and Hilda lived in her own home until 2012, when she moved to Mayfield.
Hilda has a son, Christopher, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Hilda has lived through two world wars and the reigns of four monarchs.
Fashions have come and gone but lessons learned at her father’s knee have stuck with Hilda.
She said: “My father told me you should not be a borrower. He used to look at me – and I was a little girl – and say ‘if there’s something you would like, but you haven’t got the money, what do you do then?’ I said I would not be able to buy it.”
He also taught Hilda how to balance household budgets.
Hilda said: “He would say your money should balance, you should not be one penny over and you should not be one penny short. It’s stuck with me all my life.”
On Saturday, the lifelong Conservative welcomed South Holland and The Deepings MP John Hayes and his son, William, who added their birthday wishes for Hilda’s big day.