This is Your Life treatment given to unsung Hackney community heroes

Ann Williams, Janice Panton (Montserratian High Commissioner), Michael Desmond (Speaker of Hackney C

Ann Williams, Janice Panton (Montserratian High Commissioner), Michael Desmond (Speaker of Hackney Council) and Ruby Merchant (left to right). - Credit: Archant

Two special ladies were given the “This is Your Life” treatment for the 35 years they have both dedicated to the Hackney Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Haggerston Road and community life.

Ann Williams and Ruby Merchant were shocked when MP Diane Abbott and the Jamaican High Commissioner, Aloun Ndombet-Assamba turned up for a special service held in their honour at the Hackney Seventh-Day Adventist Church on Saturday, based on the hit 1950s TV show originally hosted by Eamonn Andrews.

In the show the host surprises a special guest, before taking them through their life with the assistance of the “big red book”, and both celebrities and non-celebrities have been “victims” of the show.

Ruby, 73, who moved to Hackney from Jamaica to work as a sales clerk, while visiting nursing homes as well as feeding and clothing the homeless said she was shocked.

“I had no clue this was happening. I can’t believe all my family is here,” she said.

“I thank the church, my family and God for bringing me this far.”

Ann, 83, who came to Hackney from Montserrat in 1955, asked how everyone could have kept such a secret.

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“We didn’t know what was going on, we thank you so much,” added the 83-year old who worked as a lollipop lady at Gayhurst Primary School as well as preparing meals at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

“The Lord has bless and kept us and at 83 years of age I can happily say I’ve not experienced any sickness and have always been in church and able to help others.”

MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, Ms Abbott called the ladies “unsung women who as examples of faith, unity and love have contributed to creating a thriving and vibrant Hackney community”.

Speaker of Hackney Council, Michael Desmond, presented the ladies with special crystal plaques, and said: “These two exemplary ladies are two fireworks who haven’t fizzled out and we are all challenged to do the same.”