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Redbridge Dippers founder Hilda postpones her 100th birthday party celebrations

PUBLISHED: 12:00 05 June 2020

Hilda Lyons with her husband George on their 40th wedding anniversary. Picture: Lorraine Lyons

Hilda Lyons with her husband George on their 40th wedding anniversary. Picture: Lorraine Lyons

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Redbridge Dippers founder Hilda Lyons will have to postpone her 100th birthday party celebration until the coronavirus pandemic comes to end.

Hilda Lyons at her BEM presentation with Boris Johnson. Picture: Lorraine LyonsHilda Lyons at her BEM presentation with Boris Johnson. Picture: Lorraine Lyons

Hilda set up the swimming club for the disabled with her husband in 1977 and was awarded the British Empire Medal for her charitable work in 2016.

She will turn 100 on June 11.

Although the parties are on hold as she self-isolates, daughter-in-law Lorraine Lyons, was keen to praise her ahead of the big birthday.

“It is a shame, but nothing you can do about it, we were going to have a private dinner at home.

“I think the swimming club that she is president of are going to organise something as well, but obviously anything that was going to be done is going to have to be put on hold.”

Hilda, of South Woodford, served in the Royal Artillery during the Second World War.

She has dedicated much of her life to providing people with disabilities the chance to swim.

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She started off as Redbridge Dippers’ coach, then became secretary and treasurer, before becoming president in 1999.

Lorraine said: “She is absolutely amazing, she is self-isolating, and hasn’t been out of her flat since the lockdown began.

“She is getting deliveries of frozen meals and she is coping extremely well. She’s in a warden-controlled flat, so she is very independent, and although she is frail physically, mentally she is as sharp as a tack.

Lorraine added: “She was in the army, I think she was a corporal. Then she met and married her husband George, and they sort of shook hands when they saw each other after the war as they hadn’t seen each other for such a long time.

“Hilda then worked in the retail trade and I think she was running about five departments by the time she finished.”

She started Redbridge Dippers with George, who was a police chief superintendent, so that people with disabilities could learn to swim.

“She did a lot for them, although she can’t swim funnily enough.”

Hilda had a triple bypass 20 years ago and also suffered with breast cancer.

“She’s been so matter of fact about it, never a song and dance about how unfair it is, or why this and why that. She just got on with it.”


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