On Saturday 16th July, Dunstable resident Nellie Phillips was joined by her family, friends and special guests HM Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire Cynthia Gresham and the Deputy Mayor of Dunstable Councillor Lisa Bird to celebrate her 100th birthday.
Nellie, who lives at Dukeminster Court care home was absolutely delighted to receive her special card from Her Majesty the Queen, which was presented to her by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant, alongside a beautiful bouquet of flowers.
They then spent time chatting about Nellie’s life and in particular her work as a volunteer at Oxfam and the Luton and Dunstable hospital.
Nellie was also thrilled to have three generations of her family with her to celebrate, who then whisked her away for a surprise party with family and many of her friends.
Nellie Phillips was born in an area of Central Birmingham known as the Jewellery Quarter and lived her early life in a “Back to Back” dwelling along with her two older siblings. In her teens she was actively involved with the local Church youth associations at which she made a number of life-long friends.
After the second world war broke out, she started work in the offices of what became Vickers Armstrong in Castle Bromwich where the Spitfire Fighter aircraft was manufactured.
During the evenings she played her part trying to protect Birmingham by volunteering at one of the Fire look-out posts.
To this day she still shivers whenever she hears the sound of an air raid siren.
In 1943 she married Harold, a Luton lad, who served in the RAF and in 1945 they first settled in Luton. Harold returned to his Pre-War job as a specialist electrician. Their first son was born in Luton and when he was four, they bought their first house in Evelyn Road Dunstable, where they had their second son, and remained there for over 30 years. Nellie had several part-time jobs, mostly of a clerical nature, as well as attending evening courses at Dunstable College to learn to operate a Comptometer (an early type of Calculator). She also worked evenings at the College as an assistant in the training department.
When Harold retired, they moved away from Dunstable to what was their “Dream Bungalow” in the Midlands which meant Nellie could also be nearer some of her friends from her childhood in Birmingham.
After Harold passed away in the mid nineties Nellie decided to move back to Dunstable to be nearer her growing family which included three grandsons. She lived near the bottom of the Downs for over 20 years.
During that period, she occupied her time by volunteering at the Dunstable Oxfam shop as well as helping one day each week at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital. She was very proud to receive a recognition award for 15 years of volunteering at the L & D when she was well into her nineties! She joined and became an active member of the Dunstable U3A (University of the Third Age) and has made a number of good friends within that organisation, as well as trying to keep track of her five Great Grandchildren!
Unfortunately, weeks before the Covid Pandemic arrived, Nellie suffered a fall at home and ended up in Hospital for a couple of weeks which then lead to her ultimately moving into Dukeminster Court, where she has been for the last 2 years.
After the celebration, Nellie said “I had such a wonderful day with my fantastic family and the very special guests. Everybody looked after me so well and I feel like a very lucky lady”.