She may have just turned 105, but Lily Fielder’s character, charm and wit is as youthful as ever.
The hardworking centenarian celebrated her birthday at the Solent Cliffs Nursing Home in Fareham, where she has lived for four years.
Staff at the home organised the transformation of their overgrown, cluttered outdoor space so that Lily could be a queen for the day and officially ‘open’ the new sensory garden on her birthday last month.
Janet Kilburn, activities co-ordinator at the home, says: ‘We’ve got a volunteer gardener who agreed to transform the garden in just five weeks.
‘He rushed to get it done in time for Lily’s birthday, as we wanted to make her feel really special.
‘We’ve now got a pond, wheelchair-height flowerbeds and more, and it’s made such a difference to the wellbeing of those that live here.’
On the day, the home was decorated with banners and balloons and the staff had a special cake and card made.
Born in Farnham in 1911, Lily was one of six children.
When she was aged just four her father died and as her mother had disappeared, Lily had to go and live with her grandmother at Gosport.
Lily, who has two children, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, recalls her time there: ‘My granny was very old-fashioned and firm. I was never allowed to go out and play. I had to weed the garden.
‘When she died, my aunt said I had to go into service, aged 17. So I went to a retired doctor’s house and became a parlour maid.
‘I was happy there. I had a black dress, a white apron and a cap. I was quite a lady!’ she laughs.
A few years later, Lily went to the Fareham Gospel Hall, became a Christian and was baptised. At church she met her husband, Eric, who she married at Warsash Swinton Hall aged 26.
The couple then had their two children, Millie and Martin, and a little girl called Myriam, who died aged two.
Eric’s father had two-and-a-half acres of land in Fareham and had a house built for his son and daughter-in-law.
Lily worked very hard while bringing up her children and was often up at 4am.
‘I was running the market garden. We had mushroom sheds, two big greenhouses and 100 chickens.
‘I was washing eggs, picking tomatoes and cutting mushrooms. We also grew violets and tulips.’
Lily used to like knitting, but still loves reading, especially the Bible. On turning 105 she says: ‘ I think it’s the Lord’s will that’s let me live this long. I’ve had a good and happy life and my faith has kept me going.’
Janet says: ‘Lily is an absolute character, she’s so cheeky and a lovely lady. It’s such a joy to have her around.’