A FORMER teacher and lifelong campaigner for workers and women’s rights has celebrated her 105th birthday.

Annie Murphy, originally from Chopwell, in Gateshead, is also a lifelong supporter of the Labour party, and was sent a card by leader Jeremy Corbyn, thanking her for her “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 mining trade union banners, which are still paraded at the annual Durham Gala.

Ms Murphy, who now lives at Addison Court Nursing Home, in Crawcrook, Gateshead, was born in 1913 and after struggling to get an education became a teacher, securing a job in Coxhoe, County Durham in the 1930s.

She said: "My father, a miner who had come back from the war with shell shock, was an alcoholic 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 she 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 added.

She 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.

She said: “Until the war, women teachers had to give up their jobs if they got married.”

“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.”

She continued to teach until the age of 60 and, moved into Addison Court Nursing Home four years ago.

Deb Carter, lead activities coordinator at Addison Court, said: “Annie also got a card from HM The Queen. 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.”