Centenarian given 100th birthday to remember as Harold Hill firefighters give guard of honour

PUBLISHED: 09:00 03 August 2017 | UPDATED: 09:12 03 August 2017

Eileen, centre, with the family in front of the fire engine, on 29th July, 2017. Picture: Catherine Davison

Eileen, centre, with the family in front of the fire engine, on 29th July, 2017. Picture: Catherine Davison

Catherine Davison

A 100-year-old great-grandmother marked her first three figure birthday in style, surrounded by friends, family and firefighters.

Born in the East End, the youngest of eight siblings, Eileen Gibson, nee Burke, has lived in Harold Hill since her husband Harry died.

Eileen marked her 100th birthday on Saturday, July 29 with a special event at Cole Court Care Home in Dorking Road.

And to mark the special occasion, her grandson-in-law Lee Wolton was able to get some of his colleagues from Harold Hill Fire Station’s red watch to pop down and make Eileen’s day.

The four firefighters gave the great-grandmother a guard of honour, and even bought their fire engine along to really cap off the party.

Lee told the Recorder: “It was a really great day, we had a good crowd out and she absolutely loved being the centre of attention for a little while and getting the whole family together.

“The fire engine and the firefighters giving her a guard of honour was meant to be a surprise but I think she had cottoned on.

“When the fire engine showed up she was in tears, she was just over the moon with it all and it was a great day out for everyone.”

More than 50 of the former machinist’s friends and family, including nine grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren, celebrated Eileen’s life.

She married Harry at St George in the East Church, Whitechapel, on Christmas Eve 1939. Harry had grown up just a few doors down from Eileen’s home in Cornwall Street, Shadwell.

Harry would later go on to work as a member of London’s bomb disposal team and helped make the East End safe while Eileen spent her working life sewing war uniforms and taking part in the 1960s rag trade.

The decision to move to Harold Hill after Harry’s death was not an easy one, but she made it to be nearer to her three children – Brenda, Alan and Janice.

A well-known personality, it didn’t take long for Eileen to join a wealth of senior clubs, many of whom were invited to her celebration.

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