Mary-Anne Jenkins (better known as Mrs. Jenkins) is an elderly woman who appeared in the Christmas Special of 2012. She is portrayed by Sheila Reid.
She was born around 1878. After being widowed in 1906, she and her children, Rosie (age 8), Alice (age 5), George (age 3), May (age 2), and Percy (age 7 months), were forced to enter the workhouse, where she and the children were separated from each other.
Mrs. Jenkins' children were put into the children's ward, where they never saw their mother again. However, one night, sometime in the winter, Rosie couldn't sleep in the children's ward and the wardress (in a forbidden act of kindness) brought Rosie to the women's ward to be with Mrs. Jenkins. Rose had gotten chilblains at this point, which is probably why she couldn't sleep and was keeping the other children awake. Mrs. Jenkins wrapped Rosie in her petticoat and kept her warm. In the morning, Rosie was brought back to the children's ward, and neither saw each other again.
In the workhouse, all of Mrs. Jenkins' children died, either from pneumonia, tuberculosis, influenza or "failure to thrive" . She was never told conclusively of her children's deaths, or if they were buried together. This haunted her for decades after, never knowing if her children were alive and looking for her, or if they'd died in the work house.
After leaving the workhouse in 1936, Mrs. Jenkins became a desolate old woman, living in a run down hovel and wearing rags. When she met Nurse Jenny Lee, Mrs. Jenkins was put on the list for home visits by the nuns and nurses. Over a few weeks, Mrs. Jenkins' health, appearance and living conditions improve dramatically. But, she still displays moments of confusion, when referring to Nurse Lee as "Rosie". At one point, she even tells the nurse that she's saving her meals-on-wheels for her children, when they come back, for they will be hungry.
Nurse Lee was constantly mistaken for Rosie by Mrs. Jenkins, and eventually she learned of Mrs. Jenkins' past in the workhouse, her children and the fact that she didn't know for certain what had happened to them. Moved by this story, Nurse Lee set off to the Public Records Office and tracked down death records of Mrs. Jenkins' children, and subsequently found their burial records.
Mrs. Jenkins' children were buried close together in a Poplar church yard - Percy and May lying next to each other, Alice under the shadow of a tree, George just beneath a cross grave marker and Rosie just to the side of a bush. This is where Nurse Lee and Mrs. Jenkins were standing as the nurse pointed out where the children rested. Deeply moved, Mrs Jenkins kneels down to the ground where Rosie was buried and put her hands to the snowy earth. She says she would have "liked her in with [me]" but she can see "she's tucked up safe." Now having some semblence of peace, Mrs. Jenkins can now rest knowing her children are safe. At the end of the episode, she helps Chummy sew last minute costumes for the Christmas play.