Long life is in genes for former WAAF Hetty

100th BirthdayA LONG life appears to be in the genes for a former member of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) who celebrated her 100th birthday on March 26th 2013.

Hetty Iseton, who enjoyed a birthday party with her family and friends at Middleton Hall Retirement Village, near Darlington, where she lives, is following in the footsteps of her late mother, who lived to be 100.

“It was quite unusual to reach 100 in my mother’s era. I suppose it must be in the genes with my 100th birthday,” she said.

“I’ve always worked hard and led an active life. I could never sit still – I always had to be doing something.”

Hetty has lived at Middleton Hall Retirement Village for 12 years and used to cycle through the village’s grounds when she was younger to reach the camp where she was based during the Second World War.

She grew up in West Cornforth, near Sedgefield, where her father was manager of the nearby slagworks. She was a hairdresser until War broke out and she was called up, opting to join the WAAF.

Hetty was based at RAF Goosepool, later known as RAF Middleton St George and today Durham Tees Valley Airport. The airport was used as a Royal Air Force Bomber Command station and Hetty, who’d been taught to drive by her father in his Morris Cowley, was assigned to drive officers from the Canadian Royal Airforce around in an RAF Jeep.

“I joined up with a friend and as we both lived in the area, we knew the district well for driving,” recalled Hetty.

“We had to go out in all weathers – fog and snow. It was very sad at times. The airmen used to say ‘we’re going on big ops over Germany’ and many of them didn’t come back. But we all had a job to do and we did it.

“We made many friends. We used to go by the busload to Durham ice rink and we all had a lot of fun. We made the best of it.”

Today, Hetty, who has never married, enjoys a quieter life listening to local radio and the music of Glen Miller and Billy Cotton.

She was inundated with flowers and cards for her birthday and held a small party attended by her sister, Vera, and her friends at Middleton Hall Retirement Village.

Jeremy Walford, managing director of Middleton Hall Retirement Village said: “Hetty has been a wonderful part of the Middleton Hall community over the last 12 years and it’s terrific to see her so fit and healthy and celebrating her 100th birthday.”