A former tailoress who survived a V1 rocket blast in the Second World War is celebrating her 100th birthday at a Sanctuary Care home in Hatfield.
Victoria Sophie Kilbride, often known as Vicky, has become a centenarian today (13 March) and will be marking her milestone birthday with loved ones, the team and fellow residents at Hatfield Residential and Nursing Home, where she has lived for over six years.
Secret to reaching 100 is the perfect figure
Vicky has always put her secret to reaching a great age down to “her perfect figure”. Son Peter explained: “Mum was always proud of her dimensions, even after children she had a 36” 24” 36” hour-glass figure. She looked after herself and she’s always been proud of it!”
It all started off in London
Born in Caledonian Road, North London, Vicky was the youngest sister to brother Peter.
Her father William Rose was an art dealer and her mother Sophie Rose a housewife. The family grew up together in London and it was here where Vicky started her promising tailoress career.
After years of training in the capital, the young entrepreneur went from picking up the needle and thread in class to running and managing two bustling tailor shops in Potter’s Bar.
Finding love in the rag trade
The rag trade not only found Vicky an enjoyable way to make money, but also led her to her future husband, Thomas Patrick Kilbride. The young Tom, who went on to be a nurse, met his soul mate when he was working as a gown salesman.
The pair walked down the aisle on Saturday 24 June in 1939 before the Second World War broke out and went on to have two sons, Peter, 74 and Nicholas, 60.
Peter reminisced: “Mum was always a hard-worker but her main fruits of labour were always the family. My father, brother and I were always put first and that’s how she always wanted it to be.”
Life during the war
During the war Vicky waved off Tom where he served as a medic to the twice commanders’ assault group. Tom who was injured with 60 of his comrades supported the force for the full six years, leaving his wife to care for their eldest son. Turning her back to tailoring, the full-time housewife put her hands to pretty much everything and anything around the home.
Peter remembered: “Mum was never afraid to get her hands dirty. As Dad was away she had to pick up the handy jobs around the home – she tried papering, painting, putting up shelves – you name it she did it. She was a real ‘homemaker’ and made our nest perfect!”
The family home in Southgate Road, Potter’s Bar received a life-threatening knock-back when a V1 rocket came down 100 yards away from the home. Every front-facing window was blasted in but luckily no one was harmed.
Thinking back, Peter said: “We’ve all felt we had a family guardian angel since that day! We were so lucky to not get hurt – I was just a young boy in my mother’s arms, she kept me safe!”
Vera Lynn double
Life wasn’t always about war-time struggles, with Vicky even boasting a claim to fame that links her to the one and only Vera Lynn. During the war years, she was asked to be a Vera double in an upcoming stage appearance but turned it down as she wanted to stay near her family.
Now at her 100 years, Vicky’s family of four has blossomed to four generations which includes four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Peter concluded: “It’s fantastic to celebrate mum’s 100th birthday – as a family we’ve done a lot together, so it’s wonderful to be able to do this together too!
“I am so proud of mum – her life story is so big it’s hard to put it into words but in a nutshell she’s always been family focused throughout all her years and it will be something I will always be grateful for. She’s one in a million and I’m so pleased that my grandchildren got to meet my fantastic mother.”
Hatfield Residential and Nursing Home proud to be celebrating
Mary Tolladay, the Sanctuary Care’s home manager, added: “Vicky is such a lovely and warm character and we are so happy to be celebrating her special day with her and her family.”