Search

Hilda Smith from Watton presented with Defence Medal in a secret ceremony arranged by her family

PUBLISHED: 15:49 19 July 2017 | UPDATED: 14:52 24 July 2017

During a special service, Hilda Smith was presented with the Defence Medal by the Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk, Richard Jewson. Picture: Ian Burt

During a special service, Hilda Smith was presented with the Defence Medal by the Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk, Richard Jewson. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2017

Almost a year ago, 93-year-old Hilda Smith made a fleeting comment to her granddaughter about being in the Home Guard during the Second World War. Today, she was presented with a Defence Medal.

During a special service, Hilda Smith was presented with the Defence Medal by the Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk, Richard Jewson. Picture: Ian BurtDuring a special service, Hilda Smith was presented with the Defence Medal by the Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk, Richard Jewson. Picture: Ian Burt

In a surprise ceremony, organised by Watton Royal British Legion and the Lord Lieutenant office and Watton Town Council, Mrs Smith was overcome with emotion when granddaughter Katherine Smith revealed the secret plan to get her a medal to honour her efforts during the war.

Miss Smith, 34, from Windsor, said: “It was wonderful, she was totally shocked and very humbled.

“When we ask her about the war she says it is not a big deal and it was normal. She said she did not deserve it but she so does.”

It all began with a family trip to the Dad’s Army Museum in Thetford in August last year, when Hilda Smith talked about her time during the war.

During a special service, Hilda Smith was presented with the Defence Medal by the (R) Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk, Richard Jewson. Here pictured with family members (from left) Pauline Smith, Geoff Watts and Katherine Smith. Picture: Ian BurtDuring a special service, Hilda Smith was presented with the Defence Medal by the (R) Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk, Richard Jewson. Here pictured with family members (from left) Pauline Smith, Geoff Watts and Katherine Smith. Picture: Ian Burt

As an 18-year-old she worked as a receptionist during the day and as a fire-watcher, along with her father, during the night, looking for fire bombs and those devastated by the Blitz in London.

In the Land Army she looked after 100 girls in Somerset and joined the Home Guard, where she eventually spent three years before the end of the war and learnt how to use a rifle.

Mrs Smith spent 40 years living in Great Hockham before moving to Watton.

Katherine Smith was so impressed by her grandmother’s story that she wrote to the Queen asking for her to write to her grandmother to recognise her efforts for her country.

During a special service, Hilda Smith was presented with the Defence Medal by the Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk, Richard Jewson. Picture: Ian BurtDuring a special service, Hilda Smith was presented with the Defence Medal by the Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk, Richard Jewson. Picture: Ian Burt

Miss Smith added: “That is how it started, the cabinet office replied and asked for more information on her work in the war and what she has done.”

Hilda Smith’s role in the Home Guard made her eligible for a Defence Medal, and so Miss Smith arranged for a secret ceremony to surprise her grandmother.

On the way to the ceremony, on Wednesday, July 19, Miss Smith told her grandmother to dress in her best for a lunch in the pub.

“I just could not wait until today.” Miss Smith said.

During a special service, Hilda Smith was presented with the Defence Medal by the Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk, Richard Jewson. Picture: Ian BurtDuring a special service, Hilda Smith was presented with the Defence Medal by the Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk, Richard Jewson. Picture: Ian Burt

“We told her before we went in, we did not want her to get such a shock.

“We are just so proud of her and we wanted to celebrate what she has done.”

Mrs Smith was presented the Defence Medal by Norfolk Lord Lieutenant Richard Jewson and a bouquet of flowers by Watton deputy mayor Tina Kiddell, on behalf of the people of Watton.

Also present at the ceremony were her family members Katherine Smith, Pauline Smith and Geoff Watts.

During a special service, Hilda Smith was presented with the Defence Medal by the Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk, Richard Jewson. Picture: Ian BurtDuring a special service, Hilda Smith was presented with the Defence Medal by the Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk, Richard Jewson. Picture: Ian Burt

Other news

Yesterday, 13:41

EDP winners choose the name for zoo’s sea lion pup

Yesterday, 09:41

Work to improve the Buttercross in Swaffham will modernise the town centre and bring it into the 21st century, the town council clerk has said.

Yesterday, 08:55

In the latest of our profiles on the region’s Young Farmers’ Club members, SERENA CARTER explains how a busy barbecue season has made for a hectic first few months as an apprentice butcher.

Tue, 16:00

The Mayor of Watton has praised the community spirit of the town after her charity ball raised more than £4,000.

Most Read

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

An inspirational young woman who fought off cancer twice in two years and started a trust to help other young people live with the disease has died, aged 22.

Read more
Yesterday, 09:41

Work to improve the Buttercross in Swaffham will modernise the town centre and bring it into the 21st century, the town council clerk has said.

Read more
Swaffham Town Council
Thursday, June 15, 2017

Many have dreamed of becoming a lord or lady of the manor and now for some it could become a reality.

Read more
United Kingdom
Thursday, February 6, 2014

It was its down-at-heel aura that first attracted Polly Grieff to the crumbling Old Manor at Saham Toney.

Read more
Yesterday, 08:55

In the latest of our profiles on the region’s Young Farmers’ Club members, SERENA CARTER explains how a busy barbecue season has made for a hectic first few months as an apprentice butcher.

Read more

Local Weather

Heavy Rain

Heavy Rain

max temp: 20°C

min temp: 10°C

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Watton and Swaffham Times e-edition today
E-edition

Show Job Lists

Newsletter Sign Up

Watton and Swaffham Times weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy