News and views from north Bristol's urban village

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Reflections on the Life of Netta Hodges

Netta Hodges, born Antoinette Powle, was a close neighbour who passed away on Christmas Day aged 101.

Today, January 13th, Netta will be laid to rest at Canford Cemetery.

I have many happy memories of Netta, culminating in having the privilege of attending her 100th birthday celebration in 2009, during which she told me about seeing a Zeppelin flying over Bristol in World War One. This must have been a terrifying site, Zeppelins having been responsible for the deaths of several hundred British civilians in London and eastern England during the Great War.
I also remember Netta telling me how she looked out of her back garden one light summer's evening in the 1920s - her family lived at that time on Stoke Lane - and seeing the nearby cricket pavilion in flames.

In adult life, Netta worked as a dietician and was a voluntary fire warden during World War Two, living through the bombing raids of Bristol.

Although she was frail in her latter years, Netta remained mentally agile and always happy to chat. The dedication shown by her daughter Hilary and son-in-law Ray Wall as they cared for her in her old age so that she could remain at home was a moving and inspiring sight. Hilary - who lives on the same street as Netta's bungalow -  was back and forth to her mother's house every day.

At Netta's 100th, I remember her saying that she didn't think much of the Queen's yellow dress that she was wearing on her official birthday card. My children also remember Netta appearing at the door of her bungalow over Christmas when neighbouring families would gather in the street to sing carols. On several occasions, this annual local tradition was done with snow on the ground, and with Netta wrapped up in a duvet looking on. 

Tim Overton - who looked after Netta's garden so well - will be speaking at today's funeral service. Tim is a former student of Trinity College.

The neighbourhood won't be quite the same without Netta. She will be missed. 

The Evening Post interviewed her on her 100th birthday, and Netta said: "I think being interested in everything and keeping busy has got me where I am today. My mother was like that. I've had an eventful life and enjoy sitting back and remembering everything I've been fortunate enough to do."

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