Special 100th birthday wishes to Mrs Marj Thornton of Resthaven Port Elliot, who celebrated her milestone birthday on 17 November, 2021.
Born in Birmingham, England, Marj had ‘a very happy childhood.’
One of three girls, she describes her family as ‘very supportive; they took us to the opera and the ballet.’
‘When I finished primary school, I won a scholarship to George Duxton Grammar School. It was a high school – you had to take an exam at the age of 11.’
‘I finished my schooling when I was 18, then went on to Commercial College, where I studied shorthand typing and bookkeeping.’
With the beginning of World War II, at age 20, Marj was conscripted: ‘You had three choices: munitions factory, land army, or services,’ she says. ‘l chose to go into the army, which was a tremendous culture shock.’
Marj started off as a Wireless Operator, before eventually being sent to Bletchley Park, where she was part of the team who deciphered the Enigma – and that’s a whole other story!
Read it here: Marj Thornton played vital role in cracking Enigma code during World War II | The Senior – Resthaven
In 1945, Marj married her husband, Edwin. She says, ‘We’d known each other since we were in Sunday School together as children! So I knew him well.’
‘Edwin was demobbed in ’46, and we set up house together in a suburb of Birmingham. We had our son, Andrew, in 1948, and Steven in 1953.’
‘In 1960, we moved to Australia, travelling by boat, sailing into Port Adelaide.’
‘Because we’d always been members of the Methodist Church in England, we’d written to them in Australia. And wouldn’t you know it, the Minister from the Elizabeth church was there to meet us!’
‘We moved into a house in Elizabeth, and the boys went to the local school, whilst Edwin worked as an Accountant for tube makers in Kilburn.’
‘I did temporary work for 12 months, then the local Headmistress of Elizabeth Technical High School came to see me, because of my Commercial College education.’
‘So, I started Commercial teaching, then moved to Salisbury North Girls Tech. By the time I retired, I was Deputy Head.’
‘Once we retired, Edwin and I did a lot of travelling – we went to America, Canada, England, Germany, all over the place.’
Sadly, Edwin died in 1991. However, this wasn’t going to stop Marj, who says, ‘My sister in England, who had never married, she was one for trouble! So, I travelled with her. We went to the Holy Land, Scandinavia, and China.’
Along with her extensive career and travel adventures, Marj was also active in the Red Cross, Probus, National Trust, and Meals on Wheels. In 2016, she was awarded an Order of Australia for her service to the church and the community.
Marj was also an active volunteer at Resthaven Port Elliot, which is how she came to stay for a respite visit in February 2020. After enjoying her temporary stay, she decided to move in permanently at the end of May.
‘Are they looking after me here? Yes indeed,’ she says.
‘I do a lot of the activities, I like the quiz, and the carpet bowls, the bocce, anything that’s going, really.’
‘I’d heard of Resthaven, I knew it would be a good place to be.’
Of reaching her milestone birthday, Marj says the secret is to ‘just keep going! And keep interested in things.’
Marj certainly lives by her words, showing no signs of slowing down and enjoying a week-long birthday celebration: ‘On my actual birthday, the Probus Club had a morning tea at Finniss Café,’ she says.
‘On the Sunday, I had one at the church, then another one next Sunday. It was a birthday week!’
Happy 100th birthday, Marj, and thank you for sharing your story.