Former Wren and teacher celebrates centenary

Anne Day (right) celebrated her 100th birthday with family and friends.

Anne Day (right) with daughter Sue Day (left), as she celebrated her 100th birthday with family and friends. - Credit: Mick Howes

A former Wren who was a wartime ‘Secret Listener’ has celebrated her 100th birthday at her home on the Suffolk coast.

Anne Day moved to Pakefield more than 25 years ago after visiting a friend and being attracted by how pleasant the area was.

Having been there ever since, family and friends held a special party on Friday, April 8, four days ahead of her 100th birthday.

Centenary celebrations were shared at Pakefield Church as customers of the church Lent Café honoured her 100th birthday by singing birthday wishes and presenting a bunch of tulips and a heart-shaped 100 balloon.

Mrs Day was born in Altrincham in Cheshire on April 12, 1922, and went to school in Yorkshire where her father was a Professor of Medicine at Leeds University.

With a love of languages, in 1939 she was sent to France and Germany to improve her linguistic skills but with the start of the Second World War imminent, she was soon brought back to England and worked at the Foreign Office.

Here she worked for Anthony Eden who later became the Prime Minister, before joining the Women's Royal Naval Service (Wrens) as a Chief Petty Officer.

Most Read

While serving as a Wren in the Intelligence Service, she was posted to Sheringham and due to her ability with languages she was given a job called a ‘secret listener’.

This involved listening to, and translating radio messages from ships, amid fears that Germany would invade by sea.

During the war, she met her future husband and when war ended Anne married John Patrick de Cormelie Day - who was known as Patrick.

The couple moved to Oxford where Anne became an assistant editor at Oxford University Press working on the junior encyclopaedia. They had three children, Paul, Patricia and Susan.

The family moved to Canada and America for five years before returning to the UK, but after a divorce Mrs Day returned to Oxford.

When all her children had left home she fulfilled her dream of attending university as a mature student - studying languages and majoring in French, aged 51.

She later found a teaching job at Wymondham College and after retirement she visited a friend who had moved to Pakefield - and soon decided to move there as well.

Her daughter Sue Day said: “Mum became a keen member of the local University of the Third Age and taught foreign languages, mainly French and Spanish and ran classes for a small group of members.

"She enjoyed taking part in outdoor activities in particular sailing on Oulton Broad and bowls.

“Mum was living independently until six years ago and even driving a car until she was 90, but with her failing eyesight I moved in with her.”

“Mum became very good at cryptic crosswords and was teaching people the skills in her 90s.

"We still do quick crosswords every day.

"It is possibly the secret to her long life in that she was active in every way both physically and mentally.”

Birthday celebrations had started earlier this month when Anne attended the monthly Hand in Hand Club for blind and deaf people at Lowestoft Deaf Centre, where she received her first 100th birthday card and continued later at the monthly Suffolk Rural Coffee Caravan at Sotterley Chapel where she enjoyed coffee, cake and special 100th birthday candles.

Then there was a warm welcome and a bacon butty at Pakefield Church Lent Café, with her friends in the church community serenading her.

Mrs Day then travelled to Surrey to see her 87-year-old sister for a family birthday gathering of 10 members.

After a champagne toast, a card from The Queen was opened with the message read out to Mrs Day and her family.