Happy 100th birthday, Netta!

Beautiful flowers, a lovely cake, a bottle of champagne and a message from The Queen.

Yesterday Netta Park was the toast of the village as she celebrated her 100th birthday with a party, organised by her Methodist friends, and attended by over 80 friends at the Village Hall. 

Netta is remarkable because she is still quite youthful looking and has a mind which is as alert as someone half her age. And nobody knows more about the history of the village than Netta! 

The weekend had started excitingly for Netta with the delivery of a telegram and card from The Queen. The message read: 'I am so pleased to know that you are celebrating your one hundredth birthday on 2nd June 2019. I send my best wishes to you on such a special occasion'.     (signed) Elizabeth R.

And in the afternoon came the party, starting with a sumptuous sit down tea with warm heart-felt tributes being paid to Netta who then blew out candles and cut a beautifully decorated cake. Then everyone joined singing a rousing verse of 'Happy Birthday' followed by a moving rendition of a well-known Methodist hymn.

Netta was presented with some  lovely flowers and a bottle of champagne. (she admitted this was her first!).

And Netta loved every moment of the occasion.

In a tribute to her Alan Abel, a long time friend, said Netta was highly regarded by everyone and much loved. She was always generous with her time and always had a sense of fun.

As a result of her long teaching career in Ripon thousands of children had much for which to to thank Netta, he added.

In reply Netta thanked everyone for coming to share her special day. She was 'overwhelmed'; she said.

Rodney Wilson expressed warm appreciation to those who had organised the wonderful and memorable event, particularly to Gloria Baker, Lesley Shervington and Angie Archbold.

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This is your life, Netta Park ..........

Measles at the age of two, and a message from The Queen at the age of 100!

Netta Rhodes Fawcett was born in the little village of Hessay, east of York, on 2 June 1919. Her family lived in the Station House and her father was the signalman, having suffered serious leg injuries in the Great War.

She and her family moved to Appleby, Westmorland, in 1921 when her father was given charge
of a larger signal box.

At the time of the move Netta was staying with her Grandma (Fawcett) in Bishop Monkton and caught measles - so this was her first spotty memory of our village!

This was the first of many visits Netta made to Bishop Monkton while she was young. She recalls staying at Brooklyn and playing with Bill Park and other children, and enjoyed paddling in the beck.


At the age of 2.
With her mother.
As a Brownie.

Netta’s family stayed in Appleby until 1938, and during these years she attended Kirby Steven Girls’ Grammar School, travelling there daily by bus. At school her favourite subjects were geography, history and RE.

Most of her social activities in her early years were largely family based. She also enjoyed her time as a Brownie and later a Girl Guide.

When she left school Netta attended a commercial course in Penrith, studying shorthand, typing and book keeping.

Growing up in time before TV, mobile phones and twitter, how did she and her friends fill their leisure time?

‘We seemed to find plenty to do and enjoyed ourselves. I do remember some of the girls started smoking so I thought I should give it a try so I bought a packet of Craven A. I lighted one up I choked and quickly stubbed it out. The packet stayed in my pocket for a long time and then I threw it away. I’ve never smoked since!’

Netta moved to Hull about 1938 when her father was offered a better job in a signal box at Hessle. She got a secretarial job in the LNER offices in Hull where her mother’s parents lived.

Not long afterwards she spent two years on a teacher training course at Wynyaid College in Stockton, and after qualifying she taught at a local primary school.


Before her marriage. 
1948 when she married Bill. 
Her 90th birthday..

After Netta’s Grandad Fawcett died, her Grandma married George Yates.

The Yates family lived at Hungate Farm but owned other properties in the centre of the village.

Later, on another visit to Bishop Monkton, she met Bill again. He was working for his father, the village blacksmith, but Bill was more interested in machinery than shoeing horses and did a relevant course in Leeds.

She remembers Bishop Monkton in those days as being much smaller and quieter. Lots more farms and open spaces. Nobody had even dreamt of places like Melrose, Meadowcroft let alone Kebbell!

The busiest place in the village was the forge where George Park was kept busy shoeing horses
from miles around. The sound of the anvil echoed throughout the village.

Netta and Bill got married in Hull in 1949 and their first home in Bishop Monkton was in St John’s Road. For the first 11 years of married life Netta stayed at home, sometimes helping her mother-in-law in her shop near the forge.

She remembers helping sell sweets and tobacco and once, because she didn’t know who he was, refused to sell cigarettes to a gentleman in a bowler hat. She found out later that he was an important person at the Mill!

During these early days there were no street lights then and Netta remembers finding her way to events in the village through darkened streets, glad of the company of Edna Steele.

In 1960 Netta started teaching part time at Ripon Cathedral Boys’ School and travelled to Ripon each day on the 8.20 bus.

In 1963, after a re-organisation of the schools, Netta started teaching boys and girls at Ripon Cathedral Day School, and to this day she occasionally hears from pupils she taught then. ‘Some of them are now grandparents’, she said with a smile.

Some of the people she best remembers from those times were the Steeles, the Tophams and Ken Barker (who always did, and still does, address her as ‘Mrs. Park’ dating from the time he referred students from his college to her school).

In 1968 Netta and Bill moved to her present home.

Then and now Netta has been an active member of Bishop Monkton Methodist Church. She started attending regularly with her friend and neighbour Edna Steele. Over the years Netta has been a Sunday School teacher and served as secretary to the Trustees.

She retired her from teaching job in 1979 and sadly Bill died a year later.

In later life Netta was an active member of the Women's Institute, the Yorkshire Countrywomen's Association and the village's Lunch Club. 


She has always enjoyed getting out and about. She bought her last new car when she was 87 and drove until she was 92. Nowadays good friends are happy to take her shopping and for drives.

So does longevity run in the family? ‘I suppose it does’ she said ‘My mother lived to be 97 and my grandmother to 90’.

So what does Bishop Monkton’s only centenarian feel about the future? She replied: ‘I just live day to day. As a Christian I don’t feel I need to worry about the future. I am sure I will be taken care of’.

Footnote: There are currently are 14,430 centenarians in the UK - and Bishop Monkton is proud to have a rather special member of that elite group in our village.


Presents for Netta.
A message from The Queen.

Some of the 80 guests. 

A wonderful spread. 
The lovely cake. Everyone
enjoyed a slice.

A magnificent tea party and superbly organised.