Gentoo tenant celebrates 100th birthday

Mrs Hilda Stewart, who has been a tenant with Gentoo for over 45 years, celebrated her 100th birthday on 7 July, 2021.

We spoke with Hilda’s daughter, Marie, who shared a lot of happy memories of growing up in Sunderland. Marie said it has a fantastic community and was a lovely area to grow up in, telling us that her and Hilda used to live next door to midwives, nurses and sea captains!

When she was just 18 years old, Hilda visited Ireland just as World War II was breaking out and was unable to get home to Sunderland. She made the best of a bad situation and used her talents as a pianist to perform at parties and barn dances while in Ireland. When Hilda retired at 65, her and Marie revisited Ireland, and people in the county remembered Hilda’s talents!

Hilda met her husband when she was 19 years old at an ice cream parlour – now McDonald’s on High Street West in Sunderland – and went on to move into their family home in Castletown to be closer to the coal pits for her husband’s job as a miner. The couple had three children together, and Hilda now has two grandsons, two granddaughters, three great grandsons and three great granddaughters!

Hilda later moved to a Gentoo flat on Nye Dene in Sunderland and Marie told us that Hilda loved it so much, she didn’t want to leave the flat when it was time to move out.

Hilda’s early career involved working on the shipyards in Sunderland and for the Royal British Legion in the Women’s Institute, before working as a lunchtime assistant at Castletown Primary School.

Hilda now spends her time with friends, family and her adored Lhasa Apso dog, named Chas.

Marie told us Hilda’s secret to a long life is a brandy with lemonade before bed. 

To celebrate Hilda’s 100th birthday, Marie hosted an open house, filled with cakes and a buffet. Hilda also received a message from the Mayor of Sunderland, Cllr Henry Trueman, and a lovely bouquet of flowers from everyone at Gentoo.

Happy Birthday Hilda, from everyone at Gentoo. 

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