Rena Daniels is a very special lady having just celebrated her 100th birthday with family and friends around her. Along with a telegram from the Queen, Rena also received a birthday card from our donkeys!
Born on 3rd December 1908 in Penrith Cumbria, Rena went to Stoneraise School and then to Uldale School where she passed her 11+ examination but wasn’t able to go to the Grammar School at Wigton.
Rena was one of five children. She has three brothers: Bernie (aged 94) who lives with his wife, Dorothy, in Yorkshire; Doug (aged 91) who lives in Lincolnshire with his wife Reta; and Ivor (aged 86) who lives with his wife, Una, in Warwickshire. Sadly Rena's eldest brother, Robert, died in 2002 shortly before his 92nd birthday.
Rena's father, Robert Graham, was a farmer's son from Cockermouth, Cumbria. He was a draper and had a shop in Carlisle for many years having trained in Salford, Manchester and London. Rena's mother was a milliner in Burlington Arcade, London. She was born at 29 High Street, Lowestoft, where her parents had a music shop. "My mother's father lived until he was 92 and he was a piano tuner who also played the double bass."
From the age of 15, Rena looked after children in Carlisle before working for two years in Sanderson Hospital, a fever hospital in Galashiels, Scotland. Because the hospital was too small to train for a qualification, it was arranged for Rena to train at The City Hospital, Edinburgh between 1929-1932 where she gained a qualification in fever nursing.
Rena later joined Robroyston Hospital, Glasgow for two years as a staff nurse before undertaking general nurse training at the Ipswich and East Suffolk Hospital during 1934-1937.
Despite not having a grammar school education, Rena passed all her exams first time but remembers that she had to study hard for her FRN and SRN exams.
On 4th December 1937, Rena married her sweetheart, Jack Daniels. Rena goes on to say: "He was a signwriter, guilder and double bass player. Jack played at The Lyceum and the Hippodrome, Ipswich. After our marriage at St Margaret's Church, we moved to Luton, as Jack was at the time employed playing double bass at The Grand Theatre.
In September 1939, we moved to Yorkshire where Jack played double bass at The Theatre Royal, York. Whilst there I had a wartime children’s nursery in York in the 1940s. We were in York for 10 years where my daughters were born before returning to Ipswich in September 1950.
I again attended St Margaret's Church and have belonged to the Mother's Union since April 1953. I also canvassed for the Conservative Party in Ipswich until I was 89 years old.
I attended keep fit classes at the Town Hall until I was 93 years old!
I was a Samaritan for 14 years from 1st January 1963, which at that time operated from St Stephen's Church. The Samaritans has been running successfully for 45 years in Ipswich and is now located in St Helen's Street."
Rena chose The Donkey Sanctuary and Diabetes UK to share her birthday by requesting donations instead of birthday presents from her friends and family.
"As a child I used to enjoy the Sunday School outings to Silloth on the west coast of Cumbria and riding on the donkeys. I asked for donations for the Sanctuary for the work undertaken to help people abroad and to ensure that the donkeys are properly cared for. I was also interested in the fact that the donkeys at the Sanctuary are enabling disabled children to enjoy riding them."
This photograph was taken in 1934, the original belonging to Heather and Olive Wood of Silloth whose father commissioned it for a postcard for his gift shop. When the 12 noon buzzer sounded at Carr's Flour Mill on the dockside, the donkeys would stop work and refuse to move until they were fed. The buzzer was steam operated and was sounded at 7.30 am, 12 noon and 5.00 pm. It could be heard for 2 to 3 miles!
On behalf of all our resident donkeys, a huge big thank you for your donation.
If you would like to wish Rena a happy birthday, please post a new comment below.