105th BIRTHDAY: Nature, singing and taking pictures give Violet the most joy

Violet Pidgeon surrounded by her family on her 105th birthday
Violet Pidgeon surrounded by her family on her 105th birthday
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While some people might worry that not enough people will turn up for their birthday party, this was certainly not the case for Violet Pidgeon.

Violet celebrated her 105th birthday party on February 23 surrounded by her children, great grandchildren and great great grand children.

Violet is delighted with her telagram from the Queen

Violet is delighted with her telagram from the Queen

Raising a glass to toast the occasion, Violet and her nearest and dearest reflected on some of the wonderful memories they have shared together.

Violet was born Violet Bertha Hussey to parents Alfred and Kate Hussey on February 23, 1913, in Forestside, near Rowlands Castle.

She was the fifth child born, with three sisters (Winifred, Dorothy and Ethel) and two brothers (Alfred and Semoure).

Having spent the majority of her younger years locally, she first went to school at Forestside and would frolic on the green with her siblings.

Violet Pidgeon as a young woman

Violet Pidgeon as a young woman

Her interest in nature and her love for flowers, particularly carnations, grew from watching her father Alfred work tirelessly as a farmer and growing his favourite flower, chrysanthemum.

A creative man, Alfred was also handy on the accordion. He would take the children to the beach and entertain the family with songs regularly.

Due to Alfred’s vocation, the family moved to Sheffield Park, Sussex.

While her brothers enrolled in the Royal Navy after school, Violet made the long, three-mile trek to school in Fletching each morning.

Eventually, the family uprooted once more and found a home on the historic Thorney Island.

Violet found herself a job working for a family in Emsworth. It was while working there that she met her beloved husband-to-be, Alfred Pidgeon.

For a girl who had grown up in sleepy towns and villages, Violet was immediately taken with Havant local Alfred.

He had a passion for motorbikes and, in their courting years, he would impress Violet by taking her out as his pillion on long rides through the south.

The pair fell in love and married quickly on August 3, 1935. Violet wore a long, vintage wedding dress and a flower crown in her hair at their ceremony in St Nicholas Church, Thorney Island

Married life began for the pair in New Brighton Road, Emsworth, where their first child, Angela, was born in 1936. Clifford followed a year later.

During the war, Alfred was sent away to work as a police security guard, a job which took him across the country. Violet stayed at home to care for the children.

Reminiscing about his years in the family home, Clifford said: ‘I remember watching her in the garden.

‘She would spend hours potting plants, tending to her flowers and making all different kinds of delicious jams. Sometimes she would take us in the pram to Bedhampton so that we could visit our nan and grandad.’

As well as having green thumbs, Violet also had a love for photography. Clifford added: ‘Mother had an old, Brownie box camera.

‘She took hundreds upon hundreds of photos and I still have some of them to this day.’

And while Alfred wasn’t much for dancing, Clifford remembers the house being filled with the sounds of his mother’s favourite music.

Whether it be Flanagan and Allen or the crooning sounds of Des O’Connor playing down the hallway, Violet loved to sing.

Clifford said: ‘Even now she will refuse to wear a hearing aid, but she loves to sing. She joins the other residents for a sing-song one a week and every now and again she will break into a tune.’

When the children were older, Alfred and Violet went on a month-long holiday to Mallorca with their friends.

Clifford said: ‘It was a rare treat. She enjoyed it very much but you could keep your holidays abroad, as mother’s favourite holiday destination is Llandudno, north Wales.’

After leaving the forces, Alfred became a bus conductor with Southdown. He worked for the company for 25 years and the couple made many trips to and from Llandudno for ‘a busman’s holiday’, Clifford joked.

The seaside resort was her favourite place, as Clifford remembered: ‘They stayed in lovely seafront flats that overlooked a beautiful beach. It was relaxing for them, getting sandy toes. They loved to walk across the Great Orme together.’

The couple celebrated many fabulous milestones together, including their golden wedding, which was attended by friends and family.

As the family grew older, Clifford went on to have children, as did Angela. After retirement, Violet and Alfred moved into warden-controlled housing at Brooke House in Havant.

Alfred died in April 1989, aged 83, and Violet now resides in Kinross care home and is regularly visited by her two children, three grandchildren and six great grandchildren. Sometimes, they take the two great great grandchildren along!

The family celebrated Violet receiving her second telegram from the Queen recently, a moment Clifford confirmed his mother was extremely proud of. ‘It filled her with pride,’ he said.

For her birthday her children brought a cake but the care workers also wanted to make one for her, so Violet was spoiled for choice.

Banners and balloons filled the room and the family enjoyed tea and sweet treats.

Clifford said: ‘She really is a lovely mum. The best that anyone could hope to have. We feel very lucky to have a mum like her and I remember that if I ever hear Flanagan and Allen.

‘We visit very often and I always make sure to carry with me a bunch of her favourite carnations.’