100th birthday celebrations for Audrey

13 February 2022
For nearly a quarter of a century the Broderers' Guild volunteers have been caring for the Cathedral’s stunning ecclesiastical textiles, and one volunteer has been there from the very beginning. Audrey Kinder was one of the founding members and, despite recently celebrating her 100th birthday, every Wednesday the loyal volunteer continues to pick up a needle and thread and help with the Cathedral’s textiles.
Audrey Kinder

As a surprise for the Cathedral’s oldest volunteer, the Cathedral Choir made a special Happy Birthday recording to wish Audrey many happy returns and the Broderers Guild also celebrated with Audrey’s renowned chocolate roulade.

Audrey, who turned 100 on 28 January, said she was “overjoyed” with the choir’s birthday message and added: “Reaching 100 was a complete surprise, perhaps the family has kept me young! I also like gardening very much and coming to the Broderers’ Guild every Wednesday. It does me good. We have a wonderful giggle. We are a wonderful team and get on well together. It is lovely.”

Audrey Kinder
The talented broderer, who studied an advanced City and Guild embroidery course and previously volunteered at Felbrigg Hall and Wolterton Hall, continued: “I saw the new Broderers' Guild advertised in the Eastern Daily Press and it just seemed exactly the right thing to do. It was a good opportunity to use my skills and especially to meet so many people with similar experiences and skills. I think the companionship is one of the things I love the most certainly, and the fact we are handling exceptionally beautiful fabrics and creating things to last the test of time, which is quite an honour.”

Audrey Kinder
Audrey, who married her late husband Hugh in 1948, has five children, 18 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren, and she has led an incredibly interesting life.

Audrey, who lives in South Walsham and is originally from Cambridge, was a Wren during the Second World War and worked at Bletchley Park, home of the famous codebreakers who played a crucial role in the war. She was a bombe operator, helping to work the famous decryption device.

"I joined the Wrens in 1942 and was sent to Bletchley, which at that time was called Special Duty X. We operated the machines, big square things with discs that would go round and round, and when they stopped we would read the numbers and send them to the very clever chaps in another hut who would work them out,” said Audrey, who after her time at Bletchley travelled to India and Sri Lanka where she also helped to break Japanese codes.

Audrey Island (c) submitted by Audrey Kinder
Audrey also has one of the six Debenham Islands in the British Antarctic Territory named after her, thanks to the work of her father, Frank Debenham, who joined Robert Falcon Scott on his polar expeditions as a geologist and photographer between 1910 and 1913 and founded the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge, becoming its director from 1926 to 1946. The other five Debenham Islands are named after Audrey’s five brothers and sisters. The Debenham Islands were discovered by the British Grahamland expedition of 1936 which was led by John Rymill.

Audrey said: “The John Rymill expedition in 1936 came across these six islands that were covered in snow and, because there were six Debenham children, they named them after us. We were pretty flabbergasted when this young man came back [from the expedition] and said you have islands named after you!”

About the Broderers' Guild
The Broderers' Guild is a dedicated group of volunteers who have been looking after the Cathedral’s textiles since 1998.

Their needlework skills are very much admired and they also do specialist work for other churches and organisations across the country.

The guild is always happy to hear from textile enthusiasts who would like to join the team.

For more information about the Broderers’ Guild work and volunteering with the guild click here or email broderers@cathedral.org.uk