Surprise party as Rose Sweetlove, whose husband helped build Harold Hill, prepares to leave Dorking Rise after 61 years

PUBLISHED: 12:31 20 August 2013 | UPDATED: 12:31 20 August 2013

Dina Fitzgerald (L) and Gloria Kersh (R) say farewell to Rose Sweetlove

Dina Fitzgerald (L) and Gloria Kersh (R) say farewell to Rose Sweetlove


Rose Sweetlove has lived in Harold Hill ever since her husband helped build it – so it was a sad day for her neighbours when she announced she was quitting the area for pastures new.

The neighbours with Rose, Dina and GloriaThe neighbours with Rose, Dina and Gloria

Rose, now 85, moved into Dorking Rise in 1952, five years after her husband Dennis started work on the shops and flats in the Hilldene and Petersfield Avenue area.

Now she’s preparing to move away to be nearer her daughter – so earlier this month her friends threw a surprise party to send her on her way in style.

“When I first moved to the area it was very bleak,” she remembered. “There were no other houses – just our turning.

“There were open fields in front of us where the Bellway Homes are now. They had allotments there.

“They started building after the war. When I came here there were no flats, and there was no Hilldene or Petersfield Avenue – no shops.

“We used to have to walk to the shops opposite Harold Wood station, and we had deliveries from the greengrocer in the evenings. We were still on rations.”

Rose, who used to work for contractor’s firm W. C. French, moved to Dorking Rise from Dagenham because the then London County Council offered her and Dennis a house.

The couple brought up their three children Susan, Dennis and Shirley there. Dennis sadly passed away in 2004 at the age of 80.

So now she’s heading to east Sussex to be nearer her family – but her neighbours didn’t want to let her go without showing her they cared.

Rose said the party was “lovely once I got over the initial shock”.

“It brought home that I was going,” she said. “Of course I’ll miss it because it’s a long time being in one place.

“I have all my memories – memories are so important.”

Dina Fitzgerald and Gloria Kersh organised the shindig. “We’re going to miss her dearly,” said Dina. “She can come back any time.”

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