A woman who left her Hartlepool home to work in houses in some of London’s most exclusive neighbourhoods is celebrating her 104th birthday today.
Jessie McQuillan, nee Maw, left the town aged 17 to go and work as a parlour maid in the capital.
Her job saw her work in the home of Maurice Cassidy, who was a physician to the Royal Family, and at addresses including Kensington and Hillingdon.
When she returned home for the first time she worked as an assistant in Binns and her time in retail saw her work as a buyer for Mothercare, which took her to live near Oxford.
Jessie was windowed following the death of her first husband Arthur Heward, who was also from Hartlepool, and she is mum to Valerie Mills, 75, who lives in Redditch, Worcestershire, and Kathleen Jones, 79, who lives in Lemington Spa, Warwickshire
She also worked as a bus conductress for United Buses in Hartlepool and worked as a housekeeper for a family in Cornwall, but headed back to Hartlepool again as she was lonely following the death of her husband Neil, who she had met as a driver with United.
She moved in with niece Hetty Skinner, who she had also worked with when they were both employed at the transport firm, and the pair lived together until December 2014, when Jessie moved to the Lindisfarne care home just a few doors away.
Hetty said: “She has had a wonderful and long life.
“I only live eight doors away from the home and go along and I know she is being well cared for. It is marvellous she has reached this birthday.
“I can’t believe it, but I think it’s because she has led such a full and very busy life, filled with variety.
“She is such a lovely person and so creative, she would always be making something and loved doing the garden.
“We’ve got some cupcakes for her and I think it’s good they have a drink to her, so we’ve got some port.”
She added praise for the team at the Masefield Road home and says they do everything to can to ensure her aunt, who has dementia, is happy and comfortable.
To mark her birthday, the staff are holding a tea party for Jessie and her family and have also invited a singer in to perform for her and other residents.