Everyone Should Tell Their Story
Joan was born in London in 1933, where she lived with her mother and father in a flat in Putney. She remembers the outbreak of World War Two being announced via a town crier who rushed through the streets. Joan’s mother accepted the dangers of living in London, but she couldn’t bear for Joan to be evacuated to an unknown place to live with strangers. So, she took matters into her own hands and made enquiries with a family friend who worked in a vicarage in Hoby, Melton Mowbray. The vicarage agreed to host Joan for the duration of the war and so she went on the train to Melton Mowbray aged only six!
Joan reminisces about her time in Melton Mowbray with fondness noting that the tiny village only had one shop, a small junior school, a church and the vicarage. There was no running water, electricity or toilet facilities there despite these amenities being common in London at this time. Water had to be gathered from the well and a cart came round to collect the sewage. But despite this Joan admits she really enjoyed life there and her 5 years away went by very quickly. She saw animals and fields for the first time and even helped the Land Army girls pick potatoes – they were glad for her help! She got involved with the church, learning lots of hymns and helped pump the organ for 50p.
After the war, Joan’s family moved to Maidenhead in time for her to start secondary school. Joan admits she didn’t always concentrate at school, but she’s always been very artistic. After leaving school aged 15, Joan worked as a sale assistant in Marks and Spencers in Maidenhead High Street and then for British Railways. However, her favourite job was as a wedding photographer, where she often photographed 2-3 weddings every Saturday. She would develop black and white prints in her bathroom for her friends. For Joan, it’s photography that has shown the biggest change during her lifetime, she can’t believe the quality of mobile phone cameras now! Or that mobile phones even exist as she only got her first one about five years ago.
Another one of Joan’s talents is her French language skills. After studying French at school, Joan continuing teaching herself using records. When she met a French lady on the train to work and struck up a conversation with her and they remain friends sixty years later. Joan’s first holiday outside the UK was in 1956 when she went to see her in Paris.
Looking back on her experiences, Joan thinks the most important lesson in life is to always listen. She was taught the importance of listening when she sent to etiquette lessons in London aged 6 and this lesson has stayed with her throughout her life.
Since retiring aged 60, Joan has remained happily living in Maidenhead. Her hobbies now include reading and listening to her favourite singer, Susan Boyle.