Poetry and singing enthusiast celebrates 100th birthday

A resident at Huntercombe Hall with an ‘infectious smile’ has celebrated her 100th birthday with a concert and tea party.

Jean Eastwood, was born on 12th August 1923 in Builth Wells in Wales. To commemorate her special birthday, Jean had local singers come to perform a concert, and enjoyed a visit with her family to her church for a tea party.

Jean attended University in Aberystwyth where she gained a degree in English. She met her husband Wilfred Eastwood at university, and they married in April 1947.  They had 2 children, Andrew and Susan and moved to Emmer Green where her husband took a position as vice principle of Reading Technical College in the early 1960’s.  

Sadly, her husband died only a few years after moving to Reading and so Jean had the job of looking after 2 small children, running the home and learning to drive, which she did wonderfully well and then took a part time position at Reading Technical College.

Jean returned to teaching in the early 1970’s teaching English at Chiltern Edge School where she stayed until her retirement. After retiring, Jean moved to Henely where she lived for nearly 40 years until 2020 when she moved to Huntercombe Hall.

During her retirement Jean joined a team of readers who recorded readings from the Henley Standard each week for the Henley Talking Newspaper for the visually handicapped and continued this for many years.

Jean joined Dunsden Church 60 years ago and due to her love for singing and dancing, she quickly joined the choir. She has also been an avid member of the Henley Poetry Society, and her particular interest was in poet Wilfred Owen. Jean spent hours researching his life and work particularly that spent when he assisted the Vicar of Dunsden between 1911 and 1913. 

Her love and knowledge of the Poet Wilfred Owen was well known and she contributed to two programmes about him, one on the BBC with Jeremy Paxman and the other on Radio 3.

Jean has a large circle of friends both locally and afield and for many years enjoyed holidays, mainly in Europe with both the U3A group and the Henley Twin Town group.

When asked what her secret to a long life was, Jean said “Luck and maybe singing for one’s soul.”

Pete Watt, home manager at Huntercombe Hall said, “Jean was the first resident to welcome me officially to the Home when I joined in October 2021, at the time I didn’t know about her love of Wilfred Owen so when I chose a selection of his poems to read to the residents on Armistice Day, I was delighted to find that we had a common interest. Jean has one of the most infectious smiles I have ever seen, and it is a joy and a privilege to have her as an integral part of our community at Huntercombe.”