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A centenarian member of a prominent Diss family has died

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Ann Ward on her 100th birthday. Picture by Mecha Morton.
Ann Ward on her 100th birthday. Picture by Mecha Morton.

She served in the Royal Navy, like her father and two of her brothers, before marrying Norfolk clergyman the Rev David Ward.

Despite her Diss connections, Mrs Ward was born in Buckinghamshire in 1917. The family moved frequently because of her father’s postings, a point she explained at her 100th birthday.

She served in the Women’s Royal Naval Service in the Second World War as a secretary in intelligence and in the Middle East.

Rector of Diss, Canon Tony Billett, said that the Taylor family had always staunchly supported St Mary’s Church and had made Manor Cottage, next to the Manor House, available for the Diss curate.

On her return to Diss, Mrs Ward met her future husband, who was living in the cottage. “He fell in love with the girl next door in the big house,” said Canon Billett.

Mr Ward went on to serve parishes in East and West Norfolk and finally Ditchingham. “Then they returned to Diss and, romantically, to the cottage where they had started out together” said Mr Billett.

“They were not blessed with children but they had many nieces and nephews and were very fond of them. They would visit to look after her after she was widowed.

“Not that she needed much looking after. Until the final year of her life, she remained physically very active and would climb ladders or walk back from Diss with her shopping without a trolley.”

Mrs Ward was, for many years, a member of the Diss branch of the Royal British Legion and president of its women’s section.

The legion gave her a party for her 100th birthday, and a certificate acknowledging her service. “She was much loved and respected in the branch,” said president David Goldson.

Diss Museum manager Basil Abbott said: “Ann Ward was a prominent and enthusiastic Friend of Diss Museum, attending their lectures until the end of her life.

“In quizzes, she was very knowledgeable on music and travel, but said the answers so loudly that neighbouring tables reaped the benefits.

“One of her last public duties for us was, with her brother John, to unveil large flags to reveal new stones showing the hitherto missing names on the war memorial in 2014.”

A thanksgiving service for Mrs Ward’s life will be held in St Mary’s Church on Thursday at 2.30pm.

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