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Norfolk woman Anne’s story is beyond belief

Anne Murrin’s autobiographical book, ‘Beyond Belief’, is a tale of triumph over adversity for the retired business woman from Blofield who has defied pain, despair and destitution with God’s help and guidance. Jenny Seal reports.

Anne’s life has not been easy.  In her 71 years, the retired Norfolk entrepreneur has faced real difficulties, including TB as a teenager, bringing up three children alone and the threat of paralysis from a chronic back condition. However, when Anne recounts her life and business successes, it is a life-affirming story.

Published in October 2017, Anne began writing ‘Beyond Belief’ for her family as a record of her Broadland-based property management company.  She soon realised that the story of her self-made enterprise couldn’t be told without wider reflection on the factors that birthed and motivated it – her sustaining faith, her health  problems, a failed marriage, a privileged childhood at a private school in a Staffordshire convent and her many close friendships.

“Because all my children live away,” Anne said, “I don’t think they were fully aware of everything that was involved and I thought it would be a good record to write the history of the business.  I also thought it might provide inspiration and encouragement to future generations.  As I got into it I thought more and more that I needed to explain why I had to run the business.  And as it progressed, I realised more and more the power of God behind me.” 

Driven by high standards of customer service and a proactive attitude, the author established and ran her business, Heron Property Management (formerly Heron Homecare) for 20 years before selling it for a sizeable sum.  At the time it wasn’t customary for businesses to be run by women and Anne had to deal with some patriarchal attitudes. To add to this she was a single mother of three, after divorce from a difficult marriage.

In her 30s, Anne had found herself with no prospects, and whilst bringing up her children on benefits, she took the courageous step to become a mature student and achieved a degree at the University of East Anglia.  Just as life seemed to be back on track, and as her new business started to succeed, her father died while on holiday abroad. 

Her painful and debilitating spinal condition that she began suffering from at age 15 began worsening around this time, and a final diagnosis with the possibility of future paralysis, led to episodes of depression and the need for a wheelchair.

Incredibly, Anne tells the story of the ups and downs with humour, Godly wisdom, insight and, despite everything, optimism.  As you read the book, the author becomes someone you would love to know. 

Meeting Anne in her home, Heron House, named after her former business, is not a disappointment.  On a cold winter’s day her personality matches the bright sunlight streaming into her comfortable living room, through her large windows and glass doors.  Anne, with her back carefully supported by cushions, talks about difficult subjects with a smile on her face and a chuckle punctuating her sentences.

It is this affability and positivity that seems to have opened up and allowed her to capitalise on many opportunities in her life.  But in the darkest times when these have failed her, it has been her strong faith in God that has brought strength. 
When Anne was 17 she got Tuberculosis and was ordered to bed rest for six months in isolation.  During this frustrating period she experienced a powerful faith encounter out of nowhere. “God’s most holy presence completely engulfed me,” she writes. “It filled my being with such joy and feeling of closeness to Him – I was enraptured.  It was a very real experience of His Mystical Being.  I was on ‘Cloud Nine’.”

Despite later experiencing years of feeling anger towards God and distant from him, this episode remained a source of strength. Looking back, even in the hardest moments, she can see God’s leading and nudging both in inexplicable answers to prayer and in ordinary but unexpected moments. 

“I think, having an experience like that, you almost can’t not believe,” she said. “Even though I went through times when I thought, ‘why is God allowing all this to happen?’ I couldn’t not believe because of that experience.”

Although her belief was certain, Anne didn’t get involved in church life until her mid-40s. “For years, I felt very much in the wilderness with my faith,” she said.  It wasn’t until Anne came to a crisis point with her spinal condition that she found herself in a church seeking sanctuary and was invited to the weekly prayer group which has become a big part of her life. 

Now an involved member of St George’s Catholic Church in Norwich and Our Lady Mother of God church in Thorpe St Andrew, Anne was also recently elected the Formation Minister for the Secular Franciscans in Norwich.

A grandmother to seven, Anne lives an active life despite the devastating prognoses and diagnoses she received 25 years ago for her back problems.  With the help of remedial massage, complementary supplements and aqua therapy Anne’s spinal condition has greatly improved and she can now walk unaided.

“I’ve had enormous healing,” she said.  “I was almost wheelchair-bound at one point and was told that I could become completely paralysed. You don’t see too many complete miracles these days – but certainly I never ever dreamt I’d be doing all the things I’m doing now.  Never dreamt at all!  God was truly on my side.”

Beyond Belief: Through Trials to Triumph, The Miracle of a Broadland Business by Anne Murrin. 249pp. Self-published in October 2017 through Witley Press.  £9.95. Available from Amazon and other bookshops.
Pictured above is Anne Murrin at her Blofield home with her new book Beyond Belief.

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