Beatty celebrates 103

15 Jul 2020

Beatrice (Beatty) Orwell celebrated her 103rd birthday last week, receiving dozens of birthday wishes from all that know her, with cards, gifts and phone calls.

She has been a member of Jewish Care’s Brenner Centre at Stepney Jewish Community Centre at Raine House for more than 15 years. The Centre sent her a personalised four-page booklet with love from all the members, staff and volunteers with the message “Happy 103rd Birthday Beatty. You are amazing, an inspiration to us all, with love from everyone at Stepney.”

Beatty celebrated her birthday at home this year, where she lives independently, with a little bit of help and the ever-loving support of her three children and extended family, which includes their spouses, her 12 grandchildren, 18 great grandchildren and 5 great, great grandchildren.

Speaking on behalf of the family, her daughter, June says, “We are immensely proud of our Mum. She has had a very eventful life. Born in humble surroundings in the East End of London, she worked hard all of her life, but along the way she met the Queen at Buckingham Palace and had tea at 10 Downing Street, which really isn’t bad for a girl from Petticoat Lane!

 “We would like to thank Jewish Care and particularly the Brenner Centre for all the support shown to our mother as a result of her recent broken hip and the Covid-19 lockdown. She has received so many kind get well and birthday messages which has been truly amazing. Denise and the staff at Brenner care for her like family and we know that Mum is in safe hands when she is there. We wish everyone well and hope that all Centres will re-open soon and all the members can be together again."

Before the Centre’s activities were suspended due to Covid-19, Beatty spent several days a week at the Jewish Care’s Stepney Community Centre. Early on in lockdown, Beatty broke her hip and was admitted to Whitechapel Hospital, where she went on to make a great recovery and has returned home well. She is now walking again and doing her exercises.

The birthday card from the Brenner Centre was a special edition of “The Sparkling Times”, reminiscing over what has happened in her lifetime. Born on 7 July 1917 in Aldgate with bombs dropping around her, she and her three sisters were brought up in East London by their mum who taught them to be strong and independent. She spent much of her working life as an over-locker in a men’s trouser factory. She married John Orwell and together they had three children.

Beatty has also given numerous TV and radio interviews. According to “The Daily Sparkle”, it was the same year as the birth of the Women’s Naval Service during the First World War. When Beattie was 10, it was the year Charles Lindburgh took the first flight across the Atlantic Ocean and when Beattie turned 21 in 1938, it was the year before war broke out again in Europe and the first copy of Beano was published. The year Beattie turned 50, was the same year as The Beatles, Sargent Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band album was made.

The longest known member of the Labour Party, was active in politics, charity work, and a local resident and former Mayoress of Tower Hamlets.

Beattie has been involved in local politics for as long as she can remember and took an active role in standing against the fascist black shirts at the Battle of Cable Street and later being elected as a local councillor in Tower Hamlets. In 1966, her husband served as Mayor of Tower Hamlets and the two used their political influences to help shape the local area.