Cowplain woman, 100, celebrates with jazz classic

Birthday girl Doreen Hill blowing out the candles on her cake.
Birthday girl Doreen Hill blowing out the candles on her cake.

I found my thrill, on Blueberry Hill. That was the lyric ringing out as Doreen Mary Hill celebrated her 100th birthday.

Since loving jazz music and, particularly the song, Blueberry Hill as a young woman, it felt right that Doreen marked her 100th birthday with a boogie to her favourite old songs.

Doreen and her husband, Frank Hill, at the seaside.

Doreen and her husband, Frank Hill, at the seaside.

So she celebrated her century surrounded by her family, friends and neighbours at Stroud House Care Home, Petersfield on July 30. 

Born Carlyle, Doreen grew up in Durham until her family moved to Windsor when she was 14-years-old. Eager to get into the workplace and start a life of her own, Doreen quickly made her way in the world by working for a De Havilland factory assembling aeroplane parts.

It was there she met her husband-to-be and love of her life Frank Hill. The couple became inseparable, spending many days at the beach together. Therefore, it wasn’t long before Frank got on one knee and the couple tied the knot on August 21, 1954.

The newlyweds quickly moved to London and made their first proper home together in Mill Hill. 

Doreen celebrated her 100th birthday with a celebration buffet at Stroud House with her nephews David Hill, John Hill and his wife Ros.

Doreen celebrated her 100th birthday with a celebration buffet at Stroud House with her nephews David Hill, John Hill and his wife Ros.

As an avid knitter and chef, Doreen loved being a houswife, taking pride in the running of her home. She continued this when the couple moved to a newly-built home in Greenfield Rise, Cowplain, in the mid-1960s. 

When Frank fell ill, Doreen made the decision that the couple would both move into Stroud House Care Home, as they could not bear to be apart. 

‘Their lives evolved around each other,’ says Ros Hill, Doreen’s niece by marriage.

‘They did everything together. She did not want him to go into care without her.’

Sharing their love for 1950s jazz and especially the song Blueberry Hill, the couple spent 60 years by each others’ side until Frank passed away in January 2018.

When asked what she thought was the most important lesson in life, Doreen says: ‘You should always work hard to get somewhere and be grateful for love.’

After having a lunch buffet and blowing out the candles on her birthday cake, Doreen’s big day was topped off by listening to 1950s’ tunes and reminiscing with friends… ‘for you were my thrill, on Blueberry Hill.’