Mother-of-one who was ‘tower of strength’ for son celebrates 100th birthday

PUBLISHED: 07:00 20 August 2013

Renne Underhill with her birthday card from the Queen

Renne Underhill with her birthday card from the Queen


A “fantastic” mother who lost her husband to cancer more than 60 years ago has celebrated her 100th birthday surrounded by friends and family.

Renne Underhil with her cake and her family and staff, with a picture of her when she was younger on the tableRenne Underhil with her cake and her family and staff, with a picture of her when she was younger on the table

Renne Underhill received a birthday card from the Queen on Thursday and a party was held to mark her special milestone at Springfield Care Centre, Springfield Drive, Newbury Park.

The mother-of-one, who was born in Kent and moved to Derby during the Second World War, has been a “tower of strength” for her son, Chris, ever since his father died from Hodgkin’s disease in 1952.


The 62-year-old, of South Woodford, said: “Despite my mum not liking to be the centre of attention, we had a great day marking her huge milestone and there was enough food and cake for everyone. I don’t think she was expecting it.

“She was such a fantastic mum while I was growing up. My dad died when I was 18 months old so it was us two against the world.

“We didn’t have much money but I never remember noticing. She was always so encouraging and supported me through university.”

Renne worked as a school secretary before becoming a dentist’s assistant which she did until she retired in 1976.

“She never really talked about the war much but she’s always been really independent,” said Chris. “She moved close-by around four years ago when things became a little more difficult for her living alone.

“She has always been very quiet and calm, so she didn’t say too much when she opened her card from the Queen, although she appeared to be very pleased.”

Activities co-ordinator Jennifer Kimpiobi added: “We had a marvellous party for Renne’s special birthday and there were so many presents and flowers everywhere.

“I have been working with her for around four years and with a little encouragement, she loves listening to all the war time songs, playing bingo, cooking and generally socialising with the other residents. She is a very happy lady.”

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