Watch as Wardington’s dancing queen celebrates 100th birthday

Dancing queen Evelyn Phillips from Wardington celebrated her 100th birthday in her favourite place – on the dance floor.

The active centenarian was surrounded by her children Shirley, Carol and Michael and many of her 12 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren and 13 great, great-grandchildren.

Evelyn Phillips (centre) turned 100 on August 5. Photo: Jake McNulty

Evelyn Phillips (centre) turned 100 on August 5. Photo: Jake McNulty

Her family engaged a professional ballroom dancer to waltz with her to Nat King Cole’s Unforgettable.

“It was a lovely party. When we had tea there was slow music on and I had to ask for it to be speeded up,” she said.

“On my 99th birthday last year we had a tea party in the garden. When it was over I didn’t want to stop so we went to the Labour Club in Banbury and danced to Chuckletruck.”

Mrs Phillips was born in Swalcliffe and baptised Evelyn Mary Stratford on August 5, 1918 three months before the end of the First World War.

After leaving the local school she went into domestic service before getting a job at Banbury’s Woolworth store, cycling every day with her friends to and from work.

Evelyn met her husband Albert – Abbie – at a village dance. They continued to love dancing all their married life. He was one of 50 soldiers in artillery training quarters in Tadmarton.

Albert was a quarter Indian and there was some resistance to her relationship with him, but Evelyn loved him and was determined and the two got engaged secretly in London.

Her parents relented and the couple married in Swalcliffe Church. They lived with Evelyn’s parents and their first baby, Shirley was born there.

Now wartime, Evelyn and her mother worked at an munitions packing ‘factory’ in Sibford, alternating shifts with caring for Shirley.

Albert was sent to Africa, Egypt and Italy to fight, first meeting his daughter when she was nearly three years old.

The couple lived in a converted Nissen hut in Bloxham before being given a new council house in Wardington – still the family home. Albert, who worked 27 years of nights at the Pressed Steel factory in Oxford, died in 2000.

Evelyn, who still enjoys gardening, said: “My recipe for a long life is keeping busy and active, stay enthusiastic, keep moving and have something to look forward to.”