World War II started 19 days after my twelfth birthday. My family and I were living in West Ham in London having moved there from Shirebrook when I was just three years old. I imagine that it is difficult for younger generations to comprehend a childhood that involved sheltering from bombs; it is inconceivable to fully understand the fear that haunted every waking hour, but a world where gas masks were mandatory and hiding underground listening to bombs falling was my life, my childhood. People talk about the wartime spirit and the British stiff upper lip, it’s true, we became hardened to it, we had little choice.
My younger sister and I would spend hours underground in our Anderson shelter. I can remember the smell of damp and smoke in the air as if it was yesterday.
The German raids were relentless and took their toll on our neighbourhood. When I was just thirteen our house took a direct hit. My sister and I were alone in the shelter, mother was out queuing for shopping and father was at work. We emerged from the shelter; two little girls faced with the gruelling reality that all we had was gone.
My father worked on the railways, the stationmaster kindly offered us temporary accommodation and arrangements were made for my sister and I to live with our grandfather in Kirkby-in-Ashfield. Everyone rallied to help, my family found a place to rent, and we were overwhelmed by the generosity of others, supplying us with furniture and clothing. People had very little but what they had they were willing to share.
It was nine months before my father could join us and he wasn’t home for long when he was called up and posted overseas. Before leaving my father wrote me a beautiful letter, I still have it and read it often. I missed my father greatly and thankfully, at the end of the war he returned home, many weren’t so fortunate.
Following the war I remained in Kirkby-in-Ashfield where I met Reg. Reg and I were married and were blessed with two amazing children.
I have had a wonderful life, my two children, David and Marilyn have brought so much joy, I had a job running a wool shop in the heart of the commuity that I loved and Reg and I were very happy.
Sadly I lost my beloved Reg in 2015, I remained in our home for another two years before making the decision to move to Kingfisher Court. I was happy at home but I was lonely. It was a tough decision and I will admit to having reservations however I need not have worried. My life here is happy and fulfilling. There is always a friendly face when I need one. I no longer have to worry about mundane chores and housekeeping. My time is my own to spend doing the things I love. I was concerned that I would lose my independence but in my experience living here has had quite the opposite effect. I do so much more here than I ever would have done at home.
This is a new chapter in my life and I’m excited to turn the page.