Portsmouth's Eunice Forhead celebrates 106th birthday

As she waltzed into Parade Tea Rooms, Southsea, for her celebratory afternoon tea, the centenarian was a picture of glamour. Dressed in her fur coat, her make-up on and without a hair out of place, Eunice Forhead smiled as customers around her wished her a very happy birthday.

Monday, 20th January 2020, 11:03 am
Updated Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 10:44 am
Eunice Forhead from Portsmouth, turned 106 on Monday, January 13 and celebrated at Parade Tea Rooms in Southsea. Picture: Sarah Standing (130120-5042)

‘I have no secret really,’ says Eunice.

‘I am just lucky.’

Born Eunice Good at Elwood Street, Portsea, on January 13, 1914, she’s the granddaughter of Sabatino and Esther Pitassi – the founders of S Pitassi ice cream parlour in Edinburgh Road, Landport, Portsmouth.

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Eunice Forhead and husband Edwin on their wedding day in 1938 at St Johns Cathedral, Portsmouth.

Emigrating from Italy in the 1890s, Eunice’s maternal grandparents opened S Pitassi Ice cream parlour, next door to the Empire Theatre, well known for its sweet treats sampled by many city residents, including King Edward VII.

Although the parlour is long gone, as is the theatre, busts of Sabatino and Esther Pitassi still look over Edinburgh Road to keep an eye on one of the city’s busiest streets.

Eunice remembers her mother Rose working at her parents’ ice cream parlour before marrying George Good. The Goods had four children – Eunice was the oldest – and she recalls fond memories of when they lived above The Rodney pub in Spring Street, Portsmouth.

At 14 Eunice started her working life as an apprentice at WB Corsets, Southsea, and stayed there for 10 years until she met her husband Edwin Forhead. Originally from Surrey, Edwin worked at Airspeed’s base at Hilsea with one of Eunice’s uncles who introduced them to each other.

Eunice Forhead with her hairdresser Graham Cragg and niece Andrea Ribbans. Picture: Sarah Standing (130120-5023)

The couple became engaged, married and saved for their house in Stride Avenue, Baffins, where Eunice still lives independently.

The Forheads tied the knot at St John’s RC Cathedral, Portsmouth, in 1938 and the ceremony was conducted by Eunice’s cousin, Canon Zollo.

Eunice fell pregnant with their only son Richard during the Second World War, while Edwin split his time between the Home Guard and continuing to work at Airspeed.

Edwin died in 1990 but Eunice continues to live in their home of 80 years.

Eunice Forhead as a young girl with her grandmother Esther Pitassi.

She insists she has never felt alone, with plenty of friends and family, her grandson Anthony and many nephews and nieces to keep her company.

She smiles and says: ‘I still cook a roast on a Sunday because I like to keep myself active.

‘I’m very happy. It’s lovely to celebrate with my family and friends.’

Eunice’s niece, Andrea Ribbans, says: ‘She’s an extraordinary woman – she’s always grinning.’

Eunice’s good friend Graham Cragg, who regularly sees her at his salon Mr Graham at Copnor, has perfected her hair for more than 40 years.

‘She’s just an amazing woman,’ he says.