Daughter of Sunderland compass maker celebrates 104th birthday

Highcliffe Care Home resident Jennie Morton aged 104
Highcliffe Care Home resident Jennie Morton aged 104
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A woman whose family helped navigate the world’s seas has reached the grand old age of 104 on her own journey of life.

Jennie Morton’s father Thomas followed his dad into the business of making ships compass, with their firm in Villers Street, Sunniside, standing as one of the last of its kind as newer technology was adopted by vessels.

Highcliffe Care Home resident Jennie Morton aged 104

Highcliffe Care Home resident Jennie Morton aged 104

Thomas, who was married to Elizabeth Todd, is one of several of her family members to have lived a fascinating life; with her uncle Lancelot Nicholson a renowned violinist who entertained audiences at the King’s Theatre, which stood in Crowtree Road, and her father’s brother William, who was a respected painter and taught art.

By chance, her auntie Margaret Todd also married a Morton - James Cuthbert Morton - who was a solicitor in the town and then coroner.

His son Cuthbert followed him into both roles and the firm still trades, albeit without a member of the family at the helm, in High Street West.

Now Jennie - who needs to take no medication and is fiercely independent - is adding another chapter to the family’s history, as she today reaches the age of 104.

Live a life that’s worth living and do a lot of work.

Jennie Morton

The team at Highcliffe Care Home in Witherwack are putting on a tea party with a pianist and buffet to mark her big day.

Jennie was born in Beechwood Street, Thornhill, and lived in the same house until she was 70.

She never knew her siblings, as James William was killed in action in the First World War, her other brother Stanley fell victim to meningitis and her sister Ethel also died before she was born.

After joining up during the Second World War, she worked as a cook for the Royal Air Force, based in Worcester and Gloucester, and then for most of her life after that she helped care for the mother.

Jennie Morton pictured in her RAF years.

Jennie Morton pictured in her RAF years.

When Elizabeth died in her 80s, Jennie went to join her friend Jean Charman, who was helping to run the family’s fruit and vegetable warehouse in South Street in the city centre.

Outside work, Jennnie loved dancing, singing as part of the Vocal Union at Ewesley Methodist Church, walking and being part of the Primitive Methodist Church, which was in Tatham Street.

On reaching the milestone, Jennie said: “Live a life that’s worth living and do a lot of work.

“I’ve always lived a clean life, no intoxicants and always be healthy.”

A painting of Thomas Morton by his brother William.

A painting of Thomas Morton by his brother William.

Senior care assistant Shirley Kinge said the home was delighted to help celebrate her birthday and said: “Because of her independence, she is an inspiration to us and she is one of the residents we worry about the least.

“She is quiet a character and if she puts her mind to it, that’s it.”

Highcliffe's senior care assistant Shirley Kinge with Jennie Morton.

Highcliffe's senior care assistant Shirley Kinge with Jennie Morton.

Highcliffe Care Home resident Jennie Morton aged 104

Highcliffe Care Home resident Jennie Morton aged 104