‘People would get to her age and wish they could do what she can’ – Former bowls champ Betty celebrates centenary in style at Stevenage home
- Credit: Archant
A grandmother who can count being a former Hertfordshire bowls champion and dancing with royalty among her achievements celebrated her 100th birthday yesterday with a party at her Stevenage home.
Betty Small, born in 1916 in Scotland, helped out on the family farm while at school before going into service as a house maid.
Her daughter Fiona, 57, said: “She worked for large households including the Carnegie family at Mar Lodge, the former residence of Prince and Princess Arthur of Connaught, the third son of Queen Victoria. She loved it in service.”
The highlight was when Betty and her family were invited to an evening of dancing at the lodge and, during a routine where you change partners, she danced with a certain Prince of Wales – later to become King Edward VIII, only to give up the throne for the love of Wallis Simpson.
In 1951 the family moved down south, first to Codicote and then to Welwyn where she was a founder member of the village’s bowls club.
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“She spent many happy years bowling locally and further afield – she was a competitive player and won many trophies including Hertfordshire Ladies County Champion,” said Fiona.
She also continued to enjoy dancing especially with the Reid Scottish Country Dancers.
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Betty has become a familiar face in Stevenage Old Town where she has lived in supported housing for 16 years, even joining the bowls club as a non-playing member.
Teaching assistant Fiona, son-in-law Vincent – who runs RB Andrews shoe repairs in Middle Row – and granddaughter Jessica, 18, live nearby in Hitchin.
Betty also has a son, Allan, and grandchildren Cara and Andrew.
Fiona said: “She was still out and about at age 97, she’s always been very independent but these days she likes having people over for coffee, seeing friends and family and watching sport on the telly – especially horse racing, snooker and tennis.
“There are a lot of people who would get to her age and wish they could do what she can.”
The secret to reaching 100 could be in her packed lifestyle: “Oh I really don’t know – maybe it’s just keeping busy,” Betty said.