Page 3 Profile: Annie Murphy, inspirational speaker


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The Independent Online

With age comes wisdom?

This 101-year-old is wiser than most. Annie Murphy has been hailed “an inspiration” after she delivered a heartfelt speech about surviving difficult times to a group of unemployed people in Gateshead. The former teacher, who has lived through both world wars and the worst recessions of the 20th century, said she wanted to support people struggling to find work by sharing her experiences.

What kind of issues  did she talk about?

During her address Ms Murphy discussed a range of topics, including Nelson Mandela, the miners’ strike and women’s ongoing struggle for equal opportunities.

Has she faced many  obstacles in her life?

Quite a few. Born in 1913, Ms Murphy earned a place at a grammar school aged 11. She accepted the offer against her father’s wishes, explaining: “I was determined to be educated.” In 1932 she embarked on a two-year teacher training course but then recession struck. “I know what it’s like when you can’t find work through no fault of your own,” she told her audience.

What did she do next?

Ms Murphy finally secured a teaching position at a school in Durham just before the Second World War broke out. She worked as a teacher until 1973 when she retired aged 60. Having separated from her husband, Michael, she lived alone until just two months ago when she moved into a retirement home in Crawcrook, Gateshead, where she began to connect with young unemployed people in the area.

And her talk was well received?

It earned her a standing ovation. “Annie is just amazing,” said Addison Court Nursing Home’s activities co-ordinator Deb Carter. “When she gave her talk, the audience were absolutely fascinated.”

She added: “Her memory is crystal clear and she brought to life events they’d only read about. We are now hoping to line up more talks for her – she really is an inspiration.”