A RETIRED headteacher and author from Bournemouth celebrated turning 105 surrounded by friends and family yesterday.
Mildred Gillett, who was born in 1909 and grew up on Canford Road, was presented with a special cake at Nightingale Nursing Home, Talbot Heath, as ‘Happy Birthday’ was sang to her.
Her great-niece, Elizabeth Dean, recounted how Mildred had weighed just four and a half pounds when she was born but went on to become the ‘matriarch of the family’.
“She’s got a strong will and knows her own mind,” she added.
“She loved teaching and was always dedicated to her job.”
Mildred studied at the London School of Economics, became headmistress of Hampreston First School aged just 27 before being appointed headteacher at Colehill First School.
She also volunteered as an air raid warden during World War II.
Passionate about her hometown, she wrote ‘Talbot Village, A Unique Village in Dorset 1850 – 1993’ – a book about the history of the village and its surrounding farmland.
To acknowledge Mildred’s contribution to the area, Gillett Road was named after her when Bournemouth University’s campus was developed.
An avid church-goer, Mildred has never touched alcohol – something her family credit for her longevity. Her niece, Mary Davis, said Mildred has always been a strong character and that the family are incredibly proud of her many achievements.
“As a child I was in awe of her. She was always very spirited and loved her family,” she added.
Rev Phyliss Jones, who has been Mildred’s vicar for the last 10 years, said Mildred is a remarkable woman.
“She was always very bright and loves to talk about the village,” she added “I understand that when she was at school she demanded respect – but was always kind and fair.”