Life-long musician known by hundreds across Northampton celebrates 100th birthday

Popular local singer Hilda Bodiley has turned 100.
Popular local singer Hilda Bodiley has turned 100.

A life-long musician whose piano performances will be well known by hundreds in Northampton, celebrated her 100th birthday on Sunday.

Popular Hilda Bodiley, who was also a gifted soprano, toasted the milestone with more than 30 family and friends on Mother’s Day at the St John’s Residential Care Home in Weston Favell.

The great grandmother-of-six became a recognisable figure after she toured the county entertaining troops with her husband, Lesley, on piano during the Second World 

But she will be best known for her role as a music teacher at Quinton House School and her roles playing alongside the Northamptonshire Male Voice Choir and 
the town’s Cantare Singers, some of whom also 
performed at the care home on Sunday.

Her son, John Bodiley, 69, who now lives in Somerset, said his mum carried on performing until she was 92 and became something of a local celebrity because of it.

He said: “Even lately when I have taken my mother out in a wheelchair, we get stopped all the time.

“It’s amazing the amount of people that say ‘hello Hilda’.”

Mrs Bodiley, born in Shakespeare Road as the eldest of five children, has been a lifelong member of the Queensgrove Methodist Church in Kettering Road and has been a member of the choir there for 50 years.

She married piano-playing husband Lesley in 1936 and the couple went on to have two children.

Lesley, who went on to work as a clerical officer in the Co-operative Society, passed away in 1974.

As a keen engineer, he had at one point built a narrow gauge railway in the back garden of the family home.

Son John, a retired English teacher who is also adept at playing the piano, said music played a big part in his upbringing.

The Bodileys formed a family band in the 1960s, performing at the town’s Carnegie Lecture Hall in the Central Library in Abington Street.

“We lived for many years in Kingsley Road,” John said. “That was the centre of much music making.”

In more recent years though, Mrs Bodiley mainly performed with three other women in a vocal quartet known as Three Plus One.

They spent several years entertaining old people’s homes around Northamptonshire.