100th birthday: Rose Phillips

Rose Phillips from Copnor celebrated her 100th birthday this month. Picture: Sarah Standing.
Rose Phillips from Copnor celebrated her 100th birthday this month. Picture: Sarah Standing.
The spray-painted symbol. Picture: Justin Capps

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Rose Phillips from Copnor, Portsmouth celebrated her 100th birthday yesterday with her loved ones.

Friends and family of the much-loved centenarian gathered together at a party to ensure Rose (real name Alice) celebrated in style.

Rose was born in Stotford, Bedfordshire, in 1916, to Rose and Arthur Seymour.

One of the now great-great-grandmother’s earliest memories is seeing the R100 and R101 airships, which were based at Cardington, Bedfordshire.

Rose came to Portsmouth in 1936 and says: ‘I worked in a delicatessen in Copnor Road and then in Marks and Spencers, just before the Second World War.

‘I was also in the Air Raid Precautions. I did some training in munitions and got a job at Eastleigh Locomotive Works.

‘That’s where I met my husband, Phil. He worked in the tool room and I worked in the machine shop.’

Rose says she’s lucky to be alive after a couple of near misses during the war.

‘One time the siren went and I heard something coming so I rushed to get under the table at home.

‘Something came through the ceiling and I missed it.’

Rose married Phil (real name Percy) in Eastleigh in 1944. The couple went on to have two children, Peter, 68 and Wendy, 65.

By this time, Rose’s brother Arthur Seymour had been killed in action in the Second World War in Tobruk, Libya.

Rose, who has five grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and three great-great grandchildren, then took on The Hearts Of Oak pub in Commerical Road with Phil for over two years.

They then went to The Mermaid in New Road, Copnor, where they remained landlord and landlady for 15 years.

The couple left in 1982 when Phil became too ill to work.

He died a year later.

For 27 years, Rose, who was a member of the Townswomen’s Guild, worked at St Mary’s and St James’s Hospitals on the trollies.

She went around the wards with food and drink, before eventually working in the League of Friends shop at St Mary’s until 2011.

In 1990 and during a time when she used to dance, Rose met Fred Hodges, who she was with until he died in 2011.

Fred became a big part of Rose’s life – he had no relatives of his own so was warmly welcomed by her family.

When asked what her secret is to living such a long life, Rose says: ‘I’ve never smoked and I only drank very occasionally.

‘I still play Scrabble, I like doing anything where I can use my brain.

‘Also, I’ve enjoyed life.

‘I’ve had a lovely time with my family over the years, they are so good to me.’

Rose’s grandaughter Carol says: ‘Grandma remembers all of our birthdays and still hand-writes letters to us.

‘She never moans about anything, she’s just one of the most positive and lovely people I know.’

Speaking of her birthday celebration, Rose says: ‘I very much enjoyed myself.’