Marlborough’s Jubilee Centre was full to bursting today, October 22, as staff, friends and relations gathered to celebrate the hundredth birthday of Evelyn Nuir Bell from Winterbourne Monkton.
“I don’t feel any different now I’ve reached a hundred,” Evelyn told marlborough.news. And as to the secret of a long life, “It’s in the genes, don’t you think? However, I consider myself very lucky. I have a good family and friends.”
Anne Hancock, Manager of the Jubilee Centre said, “We’re absolutely thrilled to organise a party for Evelyn which has a Scottish theme as Evelyn was born in Dumfries. We all love her sense of humour. She keeps herself well informed, even about politics and her favourite TV programme is the quiz show ‘Tenable’.”
There were balloons and streamers, as well as a huge cake, a buffet and plenty of sherry. Heather Bishop from Marlborough Accordion Orchestra provided the musical entertainment with plenty of Scottish songs and airs.
Anne Hancock presented Evelyn with a bouquet of roses, a painting of a red rose by one of the members, Brian Tubbs from Pewsey. Evelyn’s favourite flowers are roses and she is particularly fond of the poem by Robert Burns, ‘A Red, Red Rose’. She was also presented with a handwritten copy of the poem to accompany the painting.
Daughter Jane Nuir Brookes read from the memoirs Evelyn has written. Evelyn’s own parents died when she was in her teens and she was sent to London to live with an aunt. Her first job was with the Salmon family who started Lyons Corner Houses.
Before the Second World War she helped Jewish refugee children. She fell in love with a grenadier guard and married him. During the war he was awarded the military medal but unfortunately he was killed in the fighting in Italy, leaving Evelyn on her own to bring up their daughter. He is buried in Italy and Evelyn wasn’t able to visit the grave until fifteen years ago when a trip there was organised by the British Legion.
Evelyn worked for many years in the China Museum at Windsor Castle and eventually met and married another grenadier guard. Her daughter, Jane is from her second marriage and Evelyn now lives with Jane, her husband and family.
Evelyn’s memoirs paint a vivid picture of life in Dumfries in the 1920’s: “When I look back on my childhood and early teens, I think mainly of the beauty and the mystery of the countryside and the charm and eccentricities of the people who live there. Not that people were always gentle, robust perhaps, but never violent or vicious…”
“I do think that it is impossible to convey the sights, sounds and colours of those days. The wind in the tall trees at the back of the house. How frightened I used to be in case the top would break off and crash through the roof. The sound of the water as it crashed against the cattle gate. The gander which used to chase us every Sunday on our way to Sunday school. How did it know to come out just as we were going past the gate ?”
“And the church organist. He always had a drip on the end of his nose in winter. I used to watch and wait during the hymn and wonder if he would get his hanky out in time.”
“There was a twilight in the north, and it was pleasant to sit in the window and watch the carts as they went home in the early evening. Or, on a winter’s morning, silent, snow laden and incredibly beautiful, to feel sad when the first carts went by leaving deep prints and tracks in the snow.”
marlborough.news wishes Evelyn a very Happy One Hundredth Birthday !