Fareham's Olive celebrates her 100th birthday in style

Surrounded by silver balloons, a pink cake and holding her champagne flute, Dorothy Olive Kennedy smiles and raises a glass on her 100th birthday.

Tuesday, 2nd April 2019, 10:18 am
Updated Tuesday, 2nd April 2019, 10:26 am
Birthday girl Olive with her niece Pam Silvester, left, and nephew Peter Barker. Picture by: Malcolm Wells (190320-5317)

Born to Albert and Florence Fullbrook, Dorothy – who has always been known as Olive – grew up in Crowthorne, Berkshire, with her older sister Hazel.

Olive’s birthday is March 20, 1919, and it was the same day her father Albert was given compassionate leave from the First World War.

‘Florence went into labour that afternoon. A bit of a traumatic homecoming for him to have another daughter,’ laughs Pamela Silvester, Olive’s niece.

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Olive Kennedy with her late husband Reginald Kennedy.

The Fullbrook sisters spent their childhood flower arranging, attending church and shopping while going to school at Crowthorne C of E Primary School.

‘Olive did very well at school and she has always maintained that she could and should have gone to a grammar school,’ explains Pamela.

‘She got the grades but because Hazel didn’t go, their dad didn’t think it was fair for Olive to go either.

‘But she achieved high marks in everything. Money was tight in those days so they just went straight into work.

Great-aunt Olive with her family and Mayor of Fareham, Cllr Susan Bayford, at Whiteoaks Rest Home, Fareham. Picture: Malcolm Wells

‘She did housekeeping for a short while and then got a job at the Lyons Tea House, Reading.’

Shortly after landing her first job in Reading, Olive made the move to Oxford Street, London, where she met her husband Ken.

Olive married Reginald Kennedy – who was always known as Ken – at Kensington Registry Office, London, on April 4, 1951.

‘They had a very small wedding with just two witnesses,’ says Pamela. ‘They spent their wedding night at The Goring Hotel, Belgravia.

Olive Kennedy with her husband Reginald Kennedy on their wedding day in London, accompanied either side by their two witnesses. Picture copied by: Malcolm Wells (190320-5356)

‘They had a very happy marriage.’

While Ken was in the army, Olive joined the civil service and worked there for 43 years.

‘It’s quite top secret – no one really knows what she did. She also worked in Germany for a while,’ Pamela explains.

Sadly Ken died in 2002. Before moving into Whiteoaks Rest Home, Fareham, Olive lived in Bishop’s Waltham.

‘She was always drawn to Hampshire,’ says Pamela.

‘She lived in Fair Oak and then moved to Bishop’s Waltham for nearly 60 years, until two-and-half years ago.’

Throughout her life, Olive has always had a love for cats, reading and gardening.

‘She loved going to the garden centre, she wouldn’t pass one without coming home with pots and pots of flowers,’ laughs Pamela.

‘I am so proud she has made 100 years old.

She was adamant she didn’t want it acknowledged.’

Whiteoaks Rest Home, Fareham, made sure Olive celebrated her birthday in style with music performances by Meoncross School, Stubbington, a visit from the Mayor of Fareham, Councillor Susan Bayford, and an afternoon tea.

Maddie Nandagopan, director of the rest home, said: ‘Her cheeky character and mischievous antics keep us all on our feet.

‘However, it is her dry sense of humour which makes her popular within the home.

‘I asked Olive what the secret was to being 100 years old – she told me a daily dose of gin and tonic.

‘Olive also told me that as a child her mother used to give her a daily lemon and honey drink and this helped her stay healthy and young.’

Surrounded by her nieces, nephews and friends at the rest home, Olive smiles and says: ‘Today has been wonderful.

‘I’m rather amazed I made it.’