The secret of long life is regular exercise, according to Todmorden-born Hilda Johnson who has just joined the country’s centenarian club – complete with a congratulatory card from the Queen.
Hilda, who now lives at the Princess Alexandra Home, run by N-Vision (the Blackpool Fylde and Wyre Society for the Blind in Blackpool) was born in Todmorden 100 years ago.
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In her teens Hilda worked below stairs as a maid in a big house which, she says, was more like Upstairs Downstairs than Downton Abbey.
She later worked as an assistant at high street retailer Woolworths.
She met Philip, the man who would become her husband, in an air raid shelter during the war. They married when she was 21 and had two children.
Philip, a railway worker, died in his 60s. Rather than retreat, Hilda made the decision to continue to go out, as she used to love dancing, a great form of exercise, and particularly enjoyed sequence dancing in Rochdale with her lady friends.
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Asked how she felt at that milestone 100th birthday, Hilda said: “I don’t feel any different. If I lived at home, I’d still be going out to the shops!”
She’s determined to stay fit, too, and advises others: “Keep yourself moving, never sitting down and don’t sit in the house all the time. Unless you’re my age, of course!”
Family and friends joined Hilda for her special birthday celebrations at the Princess Alexandra Home at Starr Gate.
Last year’s star centenarian at the home, Eileen Maher, who was born in Darwen, became a “viral” media sensation after revealing she drank a can or two of Stella Artois each day – although Eileen’s since packed it in claiming it’s not as good as it was. Hilda prefers a gentler tipple – a drop or two of Baileys Irish Cream.