A vicar’s wife and CND member who recently celebrated her 100th birthday has served as a Labour councillor and visited the Greenham Common women’s peace camp during her long and active life.
Ruth Charles, who lived in Abthorpe for many years, celebrated her centenary on March 30 at the Sheffield care home where she now lives, with champagne and a birthday cake baked by her daughter, Rachel.
Ruth Kurz was born during the First World War in Bethnal Green in London’s East End.
Her mother was a nurse and her father, Fred, was away fighting in Palestine.
After the war, they lived in Sidcup, Kent, where Fred was a churchwarden and founded the first ambulance drivers’ branch of the Transport and General Workers Union.
Ruth became an accounts bookkeeper. When she was 22, a new curate arrived at their local church. Edward Charles was very tall, his hair was bleached and his skin tanned as he had just spent a year teaching in Jerusalem.
They married in October 1938 and, while honeymooning, attended a service at Salisbury Cathedral.
The preacher thanked God for sending them Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to save mankind from Adolph Hitler. Edward grabbed Ruth’s hand and they walked out.
Edward’s new curacy in Lambeth gave Ruth opportunities to be active in the local Labour Party.
In August 1939, they went on holiday to Leningrad on a Soviet cargo boat. On their way home they were chilled at the presence of young Nazi soldiers lining the Kiel Canal.
The Second World War began a few days later.
They moved to Edward’s last curacy in Smethwick where they were both air raid wardens. In 1940 they saw Coventry burn.
A few months after the war ended, there were elections for Birmingham City Council. Ruth stood for Labour in the Kingstanding Ward and won. She became chair of the Arts and Education Committee.
In 1968 Edward became Rector of Dunstable and Ruth became a part-time clerk in the tax office and also a judge for Britain in Bloom.
While Edward served at Lidlington, his last parish, Ruth began work for the Royal Gardeners’ Orphans Fund.
She spent some days at the Greenham Common women’s peace camp and remains a member of CND.
After Edward’s death in 1991, Ruth moved to Abthorpe at the age of 85 to be with her daughter Rachel and husband Mike. She joined the church congregation and made many friends in the village.
Ruth moved to Sheffield In May last year to be close to her daughter Judith and husband Paul. She is a regular worshipper at Sheffield Cathedral.