100th birthday celebration is Jean’s cup of tea  

17 July 2023

A tea-tasting afternoon proved the perfect way for a former seamstress to celebrate her 100th birthday at Abbey View

Jean Picton-Turberville reached her centenary having lived for several years at Abbey View care home in Sherborne.

Known as an enthusiast for a great cup of tea, a smiling Jean watched as the home’s best bone china cups and saucers were brought out for her birthday party.

Her tea connection goes back to just after the Second World War when she lived in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, with her husband, a manager in the tea industry.

Abbey View staff arranged a tea-tasting experience for Jean and party guests. After sampling the various offerings, Jean naturally chose Ceylon as her personal favourite above others including Darjeeling and Earl Grey.

Sara Foster of the Companionship Team at Abbey View said: “Jean’s children were born in Ceylon, before it became Sri Lanka, and she remains very proud of her connection with the country and the tea trade. Her favourite saying is ‘What’s better than a cup of tea? Answer: another cup of tea!’.

In her working life, Jean was a seamstress for the London clothing brand The White House in the 1950s.

Among her duties was making baby and toddler dresses for wealthy and titled families with many items produced for overseas orders.

The firm, located in Bond Street in Jean’s time, later moved to Surrey and stopped producing clothes many years ago. It now produces luxurious interior accessories for important buildings and the yachts and planes of Royal families in the Middle East.

Jean’s link with the firm was rekindled last year when, thanks to some behind-the-scenes work by Sara, contact was made with current managing director John Delliere.

He sent Jean a surprise birthday greeting including a bouquet of flowers and a personal letter of congratulations.

“I was so surprised to hear from The White House,” said Jean. “It was long ago but I still have happy memories of my time there.”

Sara added: “It was a joy and privilege to help Jean celebrate her 100th birthday. She was thrilled to receive her card from the King and was inundated with flowers and cards from family and friends.

“Her family also has a connection with Andrew Lloyd-Webber so as well as the tea tasting and birthday cake, we all enjoyed listening to some of his music.”