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Maude marks 100-year milestone

A veteran teacher from the West End marked her 100th birthday yesterday with family and friends.

Maude Bassett, the former deputy headteacher at Somerset Primary School, admitted: “I can't believe it myself.”

She said: “There's going to be a party — I have nothing much to do but enjoy it.”

Ms Bassett, who was born and raised in Somerset, said she was born in a different Bermuda and cycled to Dockyard for the ferry to Hamilton to attend the Berkeley Institute in Pembroke.

The sea showed through the rickety planks of Watford Bridge and motorised transport had yet to arrive on the island.

Ms Bassett said: “I took a drive to Dockyard a little while back and I couldn't believe it was the same place.

“Everything is nice now. I don't know how people are still complaining — in my day, it was hard.”

Ms Bassett said she could trace her lineage to the Caribbean and in 1900 her parents, Henry Irving Douglas and Mary Jane Manning, came to Bermuda from St Kitts to look for work.

They married in Bermuda and had eight children, but her father never saw Ms Bassett because by her birth in May 1919 he had lost his sight after a dynamite accident in Dockyard.

Ms Bassett attended Berkeley on a scholarship and left in 1938. She went on to Shortwood Teachers' Training College in Jamaica.

She said her first trip off the island, aboard the Lady Somers, coincided with the start of the Second World War and the ship was on attack alert.

Ms Bassett added: “We were not allowed to open the port holes at night. The Germans were all around and the light would have shown.”

Her teacher training course was a three-year programme but the Bermuda Government expected students to complete it in only two years.

Ms Bassett started at the old West End School in 1943 and later taught in England.

Ms Bassett came back to teach at the old Boaz Island School around November 1963, when John F. Kennedy, the US president, was assassinated.

She added: “I was in my mother's kitchen and the news came on the radio.”

Ms Bassett became acting headteacher at the Boaz Island school before she joined Eileen Gladwin, the principal at Sandys Grammar School, when the two were merged into Somerset Primary School.

She became deputy headteacher and held the job until her retirement in 1980.

Ms Bassett said she had promised that “I would never study again” after her tough course at Shortwood. But she continued to take courses.

Ms Bassett loved maths and enjoyed teaching English.

She moved home from the West End to Warwick in 1974 and said that “after retiring, I didn't do much — I relaxed”.

Ms Bassett has outlived her husband, Arnold, and Howard, one of her two sons, but her other son, Barrington, came from Florida for yesterday's milestone party.

Ms Bassett said she could no longer walk but that she was lucky to be in “pretty good health”.

Special day: Maude Bassett is visited by David Burt, the Premier, as she celebrates her 100th birthday yesterday (Photograph by Clifton Philpott)

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Published May 27, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated May 27, 2019 at 7:24 am)

Maude marks 100-year milestone

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