Happy 100th birthday Beatty! What a day helping this great lady to celebrate a milestone birthday at Jewish Care in Stepney! Beatty was born on the 7th July 1917 in Goulston Street, Aldgate, in the heart of the Jewish East End as German Gotha Bombers flew overhead. She has survived two world wars, lived through the grinding poverty of the Depression years, fought with the anti-fascists at the Battle of Cable Street, made munitions in WW2, before becoming lady mayoress of Tower Hamlets in 1966. The history this woman has lived through is remarkable:
‘As a young woman living in the East End in the 1930s, I was no stranger to politics. I grew up watching the fascists marching and the street corner orators on their soap boxes. Politics was real and raw to me. At nineteen years of age I wasn’t allowed to vote, but I still had to defend myself against the fascist Blackshirts. “Go home, Jew,” they would shout. “I am home,” I’d yell back. Then they would chase me, try and lash me with their belt buckles. They never caught me mind, I could run faster. When the call came to stop Mosley and his Blackshirts marching through the East End, did I turn out? Course I did. My mate Jinnie was charged through a plate glass window at Gardiner’s Corner by a mounted policeman. We got her bandaged up and then we returned to Cable Street to continue the battle. I’ll never forget the roar of the crowds or the celebration songs that went on long into the night when we learnt that we had forced Mosley and his thugs to turn back. After that, I marched a lot and I held my head up high. I still do today.’
Beatty spent the whole party laughing, joking and dancing. What’s her secret? ‘Family and hard work,’ she says, without missing a beat, ‘I’ve never sat on my bum moaning.’ Right by Beattyie’s side through the whole party was her best pal Millie (on the left) who also happens to be 100. Millie and Beatty grew up together, playing hop scotch and knock-down-ginger in the streets around Petticoat Lane and were firm friends, until Millie’s family were forced to move in search of work. Decades passed. When Beatty joined the community club in Stepney in her 80’s, who should she see, but Millie. ‘I knew it was her immediately,’ says Beatty. The faces might be a little more lined, but the tenacious spirit was just the same. ‘I told you you’d never get rid of me,’ Millie jokes. It’s clear these women treasure their friendship. Together with Rene on the left, the baby of the group at 92, these women are an inspiration.