Freda Hodgson

18th May 2021

It is with deep sadness that The Whiteley Homes Trust announces the death of our oldest resident, Freda Hodgson who passed away peacefully on Saturday 15th May 2021 at the age of 107 at the Trust’s nursing home, the Eliza Palmer Hub, in Whiteley Village.

Rachel Hill, Chief Executive said: “This is a huge loss for us all here at Whiteley and we extend our sincere sympathy and heartfelt condolences to the many members of her family, to whom we know she was incredibly precious.

“Freda also was a much loved and admired member of the Whiteley family for over 30 years and our staff, especially her personal carers, and many of our other residents will miss her greatly.”

Freda’s grandson, Brent Hyde-Smith, added “Gran was an amazing lady who lived a full and wonderfully colourful life, she was an inspiration to many and will be sorely missed”, whilst her daughter Tish told us, “She was an amazing mother, and we had the most wonderful life”.

Freda had, by any measure, an incredible life – born an aristocrat’s daughter with a gilded lifestyle, she later suffered terrible tragedies and ended up years later virtually penniless. But she was always so kind and generous in sharing her story with anyone who was interested, and many will remember her from the various interviews she did for TV, radio, and newspapers.

In 2018, at the age of 104, Freda was on the front cover of The Big Issue speaking about 100 years of suffrage, and also appeared on the BBC’s Panorama and in the Sunday Times talking about the extraordinary longevity of residents at Whiteley, and how she’d learned to email at 103!

A regular guest on BBC Surrey, she recently featured in the Sunday Times again in an article about how she’d survived two global pandemics, despite becoming seriously ill last year, but was nursed back to health by our team.

Natasha Hyde-Smith, Freda’s Granddaughter has shared with our team, “Gran was an extraordinary and inspirational lady who knew how to live life to the full.  I shall miss visiting her and hearing all her adventurous stories.”

Ever the lady, supported by her carers Freda always made sure she was beautifully turned out with perfect hair, lipstick and nails. She also had a lovely sense of humour. Asked by one reporter what her secret for long life was, she instantly replied `Just plain stubbornness!` That resilience not only helped her live such an exceptionally long life but got her through some terrible heartbreaks and dangers before she finally came to us here at Whiteley Village with her husband Vere on the 30th March 1984.

Born in 1913 on 26 September in Wales, to Sir William Willoughby Williams, 5th Baronet of Bodelwyddan, and actress Violet Henrietta Powell, Freda had a privileged upbringing and was presented to King George V and Queen Mary as a debutante at 16.

She later moved to Zimbabwe where she married twice and raised four children, before being expelled from the country with the rise of Robert Mugabe and later returned to Britain with her husband Vere with just £1 to their names. After arriving back in England, she found work as a cook before the couple moved into Whiteley Village.

Freda and Vere initially moved into one of the Trust’s almshouse cottages and with their love of putting, later established the Village Putting Club – which is still going strong today. After Vere’s death, Freda moved into the Trust’s former nursing home, Whiteley House where she lived for many years before moving in 2018 into our brand new care home – the Eliza Palmer Hub.

Summarising her life to one reporter, Freda said: “There really wasn’t a dull moment. Always something happening.”  From all of us at The Whiteley Homes Trust, thank you Freda for sharing your final years with us – it has been a joy and privilege.

Back to News