During the Blitz, Hilda was evacuated along with her school friends. Elsie sent for her when the bombs stopped. The end of the war saw Tommy die suddenly from a heart attack. When Elsie married Les Lappin two years later, he insisted that the girls keep Tommy's name.
Hilda helped out at the shop until she left school at fourteen, whereupon she took a job in Elliston's Raincoat Factory's canteen. In 1957, Hilda and Shelagh, who had joined her sister in the kitchen, left home to work at a girls' boarding school in Surrey.