A WOMAN who dedicated her life to looking after children has celebrated her 100th birthday.
Hilda Harvey, who has lived in Woolpit for 45 years, received a message from the Queen marking her 100th year on April 20.
Hilda, who never married and had no children of her own, spent her whole life looking after children as a teacher and nanny.
She celebrated her birthday with a garden party under a marquee with lots of cake and Champagne.
She was joined by some of her relations and also the families she had adopted as her own over the many years of looking after others.
This included Simon Dean, one of two brothers who were the first children Hilda ever looked after.
Simon’s brother Tom passed away 23 years ago but Tom’s grandchildren, Joshua and Toby, popped by for the big day.
Joshua even baked Hilda a special birthday cake.
Hilda was born one of nine children in East Suffolk where her father was head horseman on a farm.
After leaving school and working in a dairy, Hilda became a children’s nurse and worked as a nanny.
In 1936, Hilda went out to India with Colonel and Mrs Dean from the Suffolk Regiment to look after their children, Simon and Tom.
As the war progressed she could not get home so settled in India for nine years teaching in a kindergarten and running her own school.
In the 1940s she returned to Britain and began working for children’s charity Barnado’s working in Essex, Norfolk and Warwickshire.
She eventually moved back to Suffolk and worked as a housekeeper and nanny until she retired in 1972.
Hilda, a huge fan of knitting, lives alone but keeps in touch with her friends all over the country.
The centenarian keeps up her charity work, knitting blankets and jumpers to donate to charity shops.
She said it was great that all her friends and adopted family were around her for the big day.
She said: “My secret to long life is working hard and keeping busy.
“It is lovely to have everybody together for my birthday. It was very nice getting a letter from the Queen, I also got one from the head of Barnados.”