The sounds of ska turned Shepherds Bush into a little piece of Jamaica this week as a long-time resident celebrated her 100th birthday in style.
Marking a century proved no bar to getting into the groove for Hilda Wilson as she hit the dancefloor with family and friends.
Mrs Wilson – who turned 100 on Thursday 5 September – showed off her moves as a seven-piece ska band made sure the party went off with a swing.
“I didn’t really want a birthday party, but I am really happy everyone is here,” said Mrs Wilson, who has lived in the borough for the past 46 years.
Hosted by Nubian Life community resource centre, which provides adult day care for older African and African Caribbean residents, the party was a chance for Mrs Wilson’s friends and family to celebrate the life of the great grandmother. Nubian Life is financially supported by H&F Council.
“I have been coming here a long time and I have got a lot of friends here,” added the former chef and dinner lady, who was joined at her party by the High Commissioner for Jamaica, Seth George Ramocan, and Mayor of Hammersmith & Fulham, Cllr Daryl Brown. “I love playing dominoes and I always beat everyone.”
Kingston to London
Born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, Mrs Wilson was orphaned as a young girl and raised by an aunt, before setting up her own business selling fruits in Coronation Market, the biggest market in the English-speaking Caribbean.
After meeting her husband Claudius, the couple decided to move to the UK in the 1950s, and settled in Ladbroke Grove, having daughter Delores in 1957.
Cooking was a passion and Mrs Wilson became well known in the area, working in restaurants including Backayard, in Portobello Road, as well as a Caribbean eatery operating from the site now run as Michelin-starred restaurant The Ledbury, in Notting Hill.
After moving to Adelaide Grove, in Shepherds Bush, in 1973, Mrs Wilson spent 10 years working as a dinner lady at Westville Road Primary School – now called Greenside Primary School.
Full of life
Her daughter, Delores Graham, 62, described her mum as ‘full of life’ and said she is devoted to her granddaughters, medical secretary Vanessa, 46, and teacher Shakira, 31. “She is a very bubbly person,” added Delores.
“She is an amazing woman and it is quite overwhelming to be celebrating her 100th birthday. We are all so proud of her.”
Ahead of the party, Mrs Wilson received a hand-signed birthday card from Her Majesty The Queen.
Great granddaughter Taya, 24, who works as a Year 5 teacher at Addison Primary School, in Addison Gardens, Hammersmith, joined the party on Thursday, while Mrs Wilson’s two youngest great grandchildren, Clea, 11, and Marley, two, are set to celebrate the landmark birthday at the weekend.
Jazz Browne, the chief executive of Nubian Life, said Mrs Wilson is the ‘life and soul of the centre’.
“It is an absolute pleasure and privilege to have Mrs Wilson in our presence on a day to day basis,” she said. “She is always singing as the minibus pulls up and she our dominoes queen. We absolutely love her.”
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