Meet the leader of the playgroup Aunt Anne – the wonder of Walton.


The 89-year-old has cared for generations of children attending playgroups in the area, after he started doing so almost 50 years ago.

Meet Anne Gandy MBE, also known as Aunt Anne – The Wonder of Walton.

This place would not be the same without her. She is the heart of the community.

Community Master Anne, who will celebrate her 90th birthday in September, adds: “People always say I should retire and just put my feet up, but I don’t want to do that. I want to move on. I think it keeps me young. Everyone always asks me, “What are you on?

The mother of four children, the grandmother of seven children and the great-grandmother of two children is the latest theme in the Scouse Proud ECHO series.

“I just love being with these lovely children,” she says.

And even when she is at home, Anne still works – since 1990 she has acted as a host mother for countless foreign students of all nationalities studying at the Liverpool School of English at Mount Pleasant in Liverpool.

And the evergreen Anne still helps to run a play group today. We are sitting in the Cornerstone on Liston Street, Walton. Today it is a community business center and every Friday morning is the home of St. Mary’s playgroup, but Anne’s relationship with the building goes back more than 80 years.

In 1970, she began working with youth in a play group at the Walton Youth Centre on Heathcote Road. But even before that, Anne, whose beloved husband John died 32 years ago, had started helping out in the Sunday School at St. Mary’s Church.

She tells me: “That was the old ‘Wally Nash’ school – the Walton National Church of England School – which I attended between 1936 and 1941. Now we have come full circle and I have been here with this playgroup every Friday morning for the last six years. This has brought back many happy memories – I had a great time with ‘Wally Nash’.

Anne, who also helps out every Wednesday morning in the kindergarten of the nearby Arnot St. Mary CE elementary school, was nominated for the ECHO series Scouse Proud by her friend Katherine Bollard, who now lives in London, as she told us: “She is a wonderful woman. I first met Anne over 30 years ago when I was involved in a youth training program at Walton Youth Centre. Anne ran the playgroup for children under five and I was one of her assistants. We are still friends today.

“Since then she has helped many groups in her community and is still strong.

This is not the first time Anne has wondered what all the fuss is about.

“She has done so much for the region – I cannot even begin to mention the number of people she has helped. She is incredible.”

Anne was born in Everton, but her family moved to Walton when she was nine years old – and she has lived there ever since: “I like everyone here – I’m a people person – and I’ve never thought about moving. Everyone knows me, and many people know me as “Aunt Anne”. I meet people on the street and ask them how old their son or daughter is now – they say maybe 40, but I will still think of them as little children!

She received her MBE in 2007 for ministry to the church in Walton and remembers asking a local clergyman for the official letter informing her of the honor: “I didn’t know what it was and asked the principal to look at it. He said, ‘You have an MBE!’, I said, ‘What for?


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