Annie Elizabeth Turner
(nee Bennett, 1910 - 2014)
"She Loved This Place"
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Annie Elizabeth Turner was born on the 14th June 1910 and in 2014 at the age of 103 years she lived to become the oldest recorded member of Two Gates Ragged School. Annie began life growing up in the small cottage on land to the east of the chapel that now forms a remembrance garden and Prayer Zone. The cottage consisted of four tiny rooms; 2 up and 2 down, each measuring 11 feet square.
Annie had four siblings, older sisters Beatrice and Mabel and younger twins, sister Triffina and brother Tom.
From the age of 4½ years Annie attended Sunday school at Two Gates Ragged School. The chapel had been established for 50 years and from the stories she told Annie was dedicated to attending the chapel services each week and spoke fondly about the teachers that guided her through her formative years.
Because she attended Sunday school by the time Annie was old enough to attend the state school at Colley Lane, she already had a good grounding in the stories of the Bible and could sing from memory most of the songs at morning assembly. Annie left school aged 13 and went to work at a factory in Halesowen named Searchlight that made prams.
It was during her teenage years that she met John Turner, known as Jack. Jack was 3 years older than Annie, came from Lye and played for Two Gates Sunday School Football Club. After several years of courtship, Annie and Jack were married on Christmas Day in 1932, at Two Gates Ragged School by Mr Auden, the chapel Superintendent. For a time Annie and Jack lived at Careless Green in Lye and it was there that their son Thomas Geoffrey was born in 1936. In 1944 Annie gave birth to twins, John and Jean, who were born in Foxcote Lane. They then moved into No. 4 Why Not Street where their daughter Jennifer was born in 1950.
In 1953 the family moved into modern house at No. 26 Hedgefield Grove on the newly developed Fatherless Barn Estate. For the first time they had both a gas and electricity supply, and also an inside toilet.
Although they lived through hard times Jack always found work, mostly working in local steel factories, which he continued to do even after his official retirement. Over time all four of their children married and in 1962 Jack and Annie had their first grandchild, Julie, who they doted on. Later, as more grandchildren arrived they loved them all equally, spending as much time with them as possible. Annie taught them her favourite pastimes of knitting and baking; Jack taught them about the world, history, how to pick mushrooms, and how to grow flowers and vegetables.
In 1986 Jack and Annie moved to a retirement bungalow in Dencil Close and in 1992 the family held a surprise party in honour of the couple’s 60th Wedding Anniversary. It was a big extended family affair and held on the evening of Christmas Day.
1997 was a traumatic year for Annie. First Valerie, her eldest son Geoffrey’s wife passed away in late January and then Geoffrey himself died very suddenly in June. After celebrating his 90th birthday in September, Annie lost her husband Jack in November. Annie was left devastated but with family support she rallied round, got on with life and in 2010 Annie celebrated her 100th birthday. She received a telegram from the Queen, which she revelled in, and had her photograph taken for the local newspaper – which she did not like one bit! A huge surprise family party was organised at the Wilson Hall, Colley Gate where many relatives, who Annie had not seen for years, attended. Annie loved it.
Eventually in 2012 Annie became too frail to look after herself at home and settled into Rosemary Care Home at Wollaston where she was happy and was loved by all of the staff. In 2013 Annie developed a chest infection that did not improve and sadly on February 18th she passed away peacefully with many of her family around her.
Annie had regularly attended the Sunday evening service at Two Gates Ragged School until she was 101 years old and had been a member of the congregation for nearly 100 years, an exceptional achievement. In her lifetime Annie accumulated 13 great grand-children and 4 great-great grand children.
Following Annie’s funeral donations were put towards the purchase of a memorial bench that was installed by her family in the chapel’s Prayer Zone and remembrance garden. Remarkably, when digging the patch of ground to install the bench, brick foundations from the former cottage where Annie was born were discovered.
Annie had returned home.
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short movie about Annie Turner