Gorleston writer makes her own headlines after turning 100

Rita Farmer who is celebrating her 100th birthday at the St Edmunds residential home. 
Pictured with Ann and Don Tremain and Diana Brown.

Picture: James Bass Rita Farmer who is celebrating her 100th birthday at the St Edmunds residential home. Pictured with Ann and Don Tremain and Diana Brown. Picture: James Bass

Saturday, June 28, 2014
2:35 PM

She has kept an eagle eye on the local news agenda for years while passing comment on the stories of the day.

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But Gorleston resident Rita Farmer has now made the headlines herself after turning 100.

The centenarian marked her special day with friends and family on Tuesday, who toasted her milestone year with a glass of sherry.

Miss Farmer was born in Tonbridge, Kent and after gaining a place at the prestigious Tonbridge Grammar School, went on to join the Erie Electronics Company in London in 1937, where she worked as the secretary and personal assistant to the managing director.

Because the firm was of national and strategic importance it was ordered in 1944 by the war office to relocate out of the capital, away from the danger of enemy bombing.

Miss Farmer, the boss Mr Dyson and most of the office staff and charge hands moved to Great Yarmouth and took over the factory of Millers the shoemakers.

At the time of the move Miss Farmer admitted she “didn’t have a clue” where Yarmouth was, but 70 years later she now considers the borough very much her home.

“It was suggested I move back to Kent but my interests and my home are here now,” she said.

During the early 1950s she would travel to work on the Yarmouth Haven rowing boat ferry, which would often be on the wrong side when she needed it.

Miss Farmer retired from Erie in 1973 and stepped down from work completely after several years of temping.

She spent some of her retirement travelling, mainly in Europe, and became fluent in French. She also worked for the blind during which she developed the skill of Braille.

Miss Farmer has also kept her finger firmly on the pulse of local news as a regular reader of the Mercury its sister paper the Eastern Daily Press - and is a frequent star of the letters pages, passing comment on a range of subjects from dropped kerbs to accents when she feels “inspired”.

She added: “When I take my pen to paper I like to think it’s worth writing about.

“I have the EDP every day and read it at 8.30 in the morning. If it’s still with me at 12.30pm I might pick up my pen.”

She is also an avid reader of books but said she would soon put something down “if I think it’s trivial or not interesting”, and enjoys regular walks along the cliffs when the weather is reasonable.

After fracturing her hip in 2008 she moved to St Edmunds residential home in Marine Parade, where she enjoyed opening her birthday cards - including one from the Queen - with second cousin Ann Tremain and her husband Don, and long time friend Diana Brown.

She then enjoyed lunch at the Pier Hotel with more family and birthday cake back at St Edmunds.

Mrs Brown used to work with Miss Farmer at Erie and described the centenarian as “amazing”.

“I don’t think I have met anybody with such knowledge. Anything she has experienced or read, it’s all in there,” she said. “There’s never a dull moment.

“I go out with her now and again and come in here quite frequently and we’re never lost for conversation.”

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