Eileen is one of a kind

Celebrating the 107th birthday of Eileen Pickford at Oakland Court in Felpham
Celebrating the 107th birthday of Eileen Pickford at Oakland Court in Felpham

The eldest surviving Falkland Islander has celebrated her 107th birthday in Felpham.

Eileen Pickford, who was 107 on Sunday, has lived at Oakland Court Home, Admiralty Road, since she was 102.

Eileen is the eldest surviving Falkland Islander

Eileen is the eldest surviving Falkland Islander

Eileen was born in Port Stanley on August 20, 1910, and grew up with five siblings, Martin, Tony, Agnes, Doris and Nora.

Their father worked for the Falkland Islands Company and their mother was a teacher.

Eileen has been interviewed by BBC World Service and a recording of her memories of World War One, made for the 100th anniversary, are now in the Falkland Islands Museum.

Eileen was ten when the family moved to England and a Norwegian boat that took a few months to get there. On the way, her mother gave birth with the help of the captain. This caused a conundrum, as her brother had British parents but was born under the Norwegian flag, and in the end he was given dual nationality.

Once the family arrived in England, they stayed in Acton with Eileen’s grandmother. Her mother took a teaching job in a Catholic school in the Hammersmith area.

Eileen and her sisters were sent to Convent of Jesus and Mary Boarding School. They did not have a good experience there but, luckily for them, it shut down after a few years and they all moved to a day school.

Eileen went on to work at a millinery in Knightsbridge in her 20s, sometimes modelling the hats but mainly designing using needlework and sewing.

She was a great designer and remembers creating a dress to hide the extremely-arched shoulders of a woman who had gone into the millinery.

She became friends with a man who was opening up a restaurant in Chelsea and recalls working front of house, inviting guests in and making sure service was carried out to the right standard.

Eileen met her first husband, Horace Charles Wilson, at Crystal Palace Hotel and said it was love at first sight. After a drink and a chat, he asked for her phone number. Eileen recalls giving him her work number, which he phoned while she was at work - much to the manager’s annoyance.

They married a year later, in 1936, and had four children, Angela, Christopher, Veronica and Philip. Horace, nicknamed Tiggy, worked at Sun Life Assurance Company. He passed away in 1968.

Travel played a big part in Eileen’s life, taking her to Paris, Spain, Portugal, the south of France and Italy. She often travelled with her sister Doris and Jean, as well as a family friend called Archie.

Eileen married her second husband, John Pickford, in the late 1970s. They lived in Epsom until 2007, when he passed away.

After her second husband died, Eileen moved in with Angela in Cornwall, before moving to Sussex to live with Veronica.

Eileen had many hobbies, enjoying gardening, watching the races at Epsom and knitting.

She moved into Oakland Court when she turned 102 and is visited often by Angela and Veronica, as well as her nephews, nieces, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.