Lives Lost to Covid-19: Annette Tuthill – committed to her work in the community
Resilient mother of three endured hardship and returned to education in adulthood
Lives Lost: Annette Tuthill, 1953-2020. “Her strength was simply amazing,” her daughter Sonya said.
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1953 – 2020
Annette Tuthill did not have the easiest start in life. She was the middle child in a large family born in a two-up, two-down in a disadvantaged part of Limerick city. Her father died when she was a child and she left school early without any qualifications. She was married at 20, had three babies – including twins – within five years and saw her marriage break down before she turned 30, leaving her homeless and virtually penniless.
It is a testament to her enormous determination and her strength of character that she was able to rebuild her life, return to education, work for two decades in a job she loved which had her community at its very heart and spend the best of times with her partner, her three daughters and her grandchildren at home and abroad.
“Annette was one of the hardest-working people you would ever have met,” her daughter Sonya says. “Her strength was simply amazing.”
After her marriage broke down, she moved back into her childhood home and she and her three babies crammed into a house which was bursting at the seams. From there she moved into social housing briefly and then into private accommodation before ultimately buying her own home.
All the while she worked three part-time cleaning jobs “and did whatever she could to put food on the table and to try and give us everything we needed,” Sonya says. “She was just a grafter and she instilled that in all of us.”
Education was important to her and when her oldest daughter Beverley was in her Leaving Cert year and the twins Sonya and Shirley were sitting the Junior Cert she too successfully completed her Leaving Cert.
By that point she was also in a long-term committed relationship with Stephen who, Sonya says, “idolised her and put her on a pedestal and had to put up with four women in the house but being the most patient and loving man he never complained once.”
Family resource centre
After the Leaving Cert she got a job as an administrator and office manager with the Northside Family Resource Centre in Limerick. “Above all else Annette cared about the community in which she lived and worked,” the board said in a tribute after her passing. “She was always available to those who turned to her for support and advice, ready to listen, chat or have a laugh. In so many ways she was the heart of the centre.”
As her children grew into adults, Annette became “more of a friend to us” and when her grandchildren came along “she felt she had achieved what she wanted to achieve. She had seen “her children grow up, seen her grandchildren and ensured the education and work ethic was instilled in everyone”.
She loved to travel – never more so than when she was with her family and she used to get such a kick out of her trips to her daughter’s holiday home in the Algarve, a long, long way from her humblest of beginnings in that Limerick two-up, two-down.
In November she contracted Covid-19 and died in hospital in early December, surrounded by her family.