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ByDave Stopher

Oct 6, 2018

A lifelong supporter of the Labour party has received a handwritten message of thanks from its leader on her 105thbirthday.

Annie Murphy, of Addison Court Nursing Home, Crawcrook, Tyne and Wear, has spent her entire adult life fighting social injustice and campaigning for workers and women’s rights, both at home and abroad.

And taking pride of place at her birthday celebration was a card from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn MP, thanking “Dear Annie.”

Born in Chopwell in 1913, Annie’s first fight was for her own education, because, “but my father, a miner who had come back from the war with shell shock, was an alcoholic,” she said, “and he didn’t want me at school.

“When I got a place at Blaydon Grammar, aged 11, he tried to stop me going. He wanted me at home looking after my four little brothers and my sister, but even though it involved a five-mile walk and two train journeys every day, I was determined to be educated.”

In 1932 Annie embarked on a two-year teacher training course at Norwich and then the recession of 1935 struck, “so I know what it’s like when you can’t find work through no fault of your own.” she said.

Annie finally secured a teaching position at Coxhoe, County Durham and, as the Second World War broke out, experienced female inequality in the workplace at first hand.

“Until the war, women teachers had to give up their jobs if they got married,” said Annie, who had met husband-to-be, Michael Murphy in 1939.

“But, when the men went off to fight, they needed the women, and so I was able to keep teaching, although they docked our pay by £1 a week.”

Annie continued to teach until the age of 60 and, having left Michael many years earlier, lived alone until moving intoAddison Court Nursing Home four years ago.

At the age of 101 she spoke for 90 minutes without notes on topics such as the Miners’ Strike, Nelson Mandela’s fight for freedom and women’s fight for equal opportunities, which led to a nomination for an award by Gateshead Council’s Workability Group, in recognition of her contribution to learning.

In his card, handwritten in blue fountain pen, Mr Corbyn thanked Annie, “for your commitment to justice, support for miners, Spanish solidarity in the Civil War and the cause of liberation.”

He added “I love the Chopwell banner at Durham,” in reference to the ceremonial mining trade union banners, representing the county’s pits, which are still paraded at the annual Durham Gala.

“Annie also got a card from HM The Queen,” said Deb Carter, lead activities coordinator at 62-bedroom Addison Court, which is owned by Prestwick Care, part of the Newcastle-based Malhotra Group.

“But it is the card from Jeremy Corbyn which really made her day. She is a Labour supporter through and through and hers has been a truly extraordinary life, dedicated to helping others.

“She is an exceptional woman.”