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Hettie's hundred years at Eastleigh

Hettie Clift was first brought to Eastleigh Baptist Church during the First World War. Church members recently helped Hettie celebrate her 100th birthday, and century-long association with the church 

Hettie Clift

Hettie Ellen Clift was born on 16 April 1917 in Eastleigh, where she has lived all her life. At three weeks old, Hettie was introduced to Eastleigh Baptist Church by her parents who were devout Christians. She was received into membership at the communion service on 6 December 1959. At that time, the church was known as Union Baptist Church, Eastleigh and the minister was Dennis Banfield.

Due to failing health, Hettie has been unable to attend church in recent years, so it seemed appropriate for her to return on her 100th birthday which fell on Easter Sunday. She sang the traditional hymns word perfect and with gusto, and soon picked up the tunes of the more modern hymns which were unfamiliar to her.

Hettie loves singing and sang in the church choir from the age of 13 until her late 70s. She was also responsible for preparing the table for communion each month for morning and evening services, and was involved with cleaning the church and visiting church members who were sick.

Hettie was well known for making marmalade and cakes for church bazaars as well as knitting items for the shoe box appeal; she recalls being given £5 to make something and seeing what profit she could make from selling it. A group of people met once a week and they took it in turns to make a cake to have with their tea and coffee. Hettie says that this was the start of what was to become the coffee shop at Wells Place, where she also helped.

For many years Hettie served refreshments at the weekly Grandads’ Club and was very involved in catering for their Anniversary Tea. Eventually the club grew so popular that the tea moved to the Town Hall and all the crockery had to be carried there from the church – quite a task! Another area of service was at the Luncheon Club where week by week Hettie would help prepare the lunch, lay tables and serve the guests. 

In later years Hettie has not always enjoyed good health, but remained as independent as possible. She went to church as often as possible because her faith was so important to her. On several occasions, while in hospital, she would say that she could feel people’s love in their prayers for her, and this meant a lot. The church kindly provided Hettie with a DVD player so she could watch any services she had missed.

Hettie has been in a nursing home for the past couple of years. She has been blessed with regular visitors from the church to give her communion or just to pray with her. She spends time with her niece Hilary and great-nephew Jonathon reading passages from the Bible and saying prayers as her faith has been her guide through life.

On this momentous occasion, many church members joined Hettie at the nursing home in the afternoon to share a birthday tea with her. To have been a member of the same church for so long, as well as being their first centenarian, is an achievement indeed!

Baptist Times, 09/06/2017
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