'Proud and independent' Derbyshire woman celebrates her 102nd birthday

A proud and independent woman has celebrated her 102nd birthday with family and friends.

Wednesday, 4th August 2021, 12:57 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th August 2021, 1:00 pm
Evelyn Parish in her younger years.

Evelyn Parish was the toast of residents and staff at Thomas Colledge House, Bolsover, where she has lived for four years.

Her son Fred and daughter-in-law Karen visited the birthday girl on Monday and later in the day Evelyn enjoyed cakes and a party with the residents.

Fred said: “She endured a lot of hardship and looking after others for most of her life and we are truly grateful now to Thomas Colledge and the staff for looking after her so well now. She truly deserves it. We love her very much.”

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Evelyn Parish with son Fred and daughter-in-law Karen in the garden of Thomas Colledge House, Bolsover, on her 102nd birthday.

Evelyn, who was born on Devonshire Street, near Holywell Cross, Chesterfield was the eldest of six. Her baby sister, Betty, who lives in Dunstan and is now in her eighties, is Evelyn’s only surviving sibling.

As the first-born, Evelyn helped her mother raise the other children and did most of the chores and shopping. She also supported the war effort by mending mosquito nets, an intricate task which was hard on the eyes and back.

In 1939 she had a big surprise when her husband-to-be Jack told her they were going to get married and whisked her off to St Augustine’s Church in Birdholme. The vicar who was due to officiate was found in the local pub!

Jack had to go back to the army the day after the wedding to defend his country, leaving Evelyn to live with her mother-in-law at Sheepbridge.

Evelyn Parish with a home-made birthday card from her son Fred and daughter-in-law Karen.

Evelyn had two sons, Jack and Fred, during the war. Jack worked at Kitchens in Chesterfield and Fred ran his own business for a time in Pinxton.

Her husband died suddenly in 1980 shortly after he retired and Evelyn would take flowers to Brimington Crematorium every week until 1995 when she moved to Pinxton to be near her remaining son Fred.

Fred said: “She was a stickler for routine - wash day was always Monday, first with dolly and tub, then washboard and mangle progressing to a twin tub in the 80s! Finally we convinced her to have an automatic when she moved to Pinxton but she still stood and watched it. She would get it all dry, ironed and put away the same day!

“When moving her from Chesterfield we found tins of chicken (a whole chicken in a tin!), hobbing foots along with other relics of days gone by even though she has always been modern in her outlook. She also had blue bags of sugar secreted in her blanket chest up to the 70s. This was left over from the war.”

Evelyn’s eldest son, Jack, died about 20 years ago. She has three grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

She used to enjoy reading before her eyes began to deteriorate. Now she shares her memories of shops, streets and folk who lived in Chesterfield with anyone who will listen and is interested in hearing other people’s stories.

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