ARE you Dorset-born?
Yes, I grew up in Stratton, near Dorchester, before it went upmarket. In those days it was a typical Dorset village - we had a shop in Mill Street and a pub, The Bull, where, as kids we could go to a side door and buy ice cream. The shop had a packet of washing powder in the window which everyone thought had been there for many years and no one would have been daft enough to buy. We also had a village school where I started out before going to the Secondary Modern in Dorchester.
HOW did you get into your medical career?
I wanted to be a student nurse, but didn’t quite have the grades, so a couple of us went to see the Matron at the Dorchester Hospital and she said she would take us on, but we had to wait. It was very challenging and I later went back as an auxiliary on the geriatric ward, working nights, after having our daughter, Naomi, and in between I made billiard nets from home, when I could, to bring in some extra money. Later I went back to college and did a returner’s course. I’d also learnt some IT skills which they picked up on, and I was set to work in the critical care unit doing clinical audits. Before I retired I was working on the VitalPAC system which can provide an amazing amount of information for patients in critical care.
BUT you were also involved in hospital life in other ways?
I had been a staff governor for about three years and really was able to express staff concerns, and a union rep’. It was interesting to be able to work with people of widely different views.
DO you think you are ready for retirement and do you have any plans?
I loved my work but last summer I noticed I was beginning to look out of the window more and more and thought it was time to go, that was in March. I knew the first six months were sorted – Andy ( husband) and I were committed to the Community Play, which was a fantastic experience, and now with the New Hardye Players we’ve been involved with Wessex Scenes, which is about to start its autumn run…hence having three ‘husbands’ in the space of a year! I made most of the costumes for it and would love to know how to get better at it – mine look ok from a distance but when you see the work of some other costumer makers theirs have all the detail, as well.
HAVE you been a Hardy fan for long?
I’ve always loved his poetry but didn’t take to his novels when I was younger. Someone said it was best to come to Hardy when you are older and I think that’s right.
WHAT do you get out of performing on stage?
I think I just wanted to get a bit more confidence and be more comfortable in my own skin and with appearing in public. I’m hoping to be able to perform more of my poetry, although I also write some prose as well. Many of my poems feature a play on words and I particularly like the local accent and dialect which, of course, has become much less pronounced than it was in Williams Barnes and Hardye’s time. I’m now hoping to write more and possibly perform as well. I think poetry needs and audience, although it used to make me a bit annoyed when people laugh where I’m not expecting them to.
HOW else do you plan to spend the extra time you now have?
I’d like to travel more; I love the Mediterranean where people refuse to move at a modern pace. I like swimming in the sea and I would like to do some more snorkelling.
I’ve also taken on a part-time job as a guide at Shirehall which is a fantastic building with a fantastic history and has so much potential for drama and other things. I just find it staggering that the Tolpuddle Six and their families had the courage to stand up for something they believed in and would fight for a real principle.
AND is there something you would stand up for?
The NHS. I’m worried about it because you can see the way it’s going. There is so much temptation from people who want to make money out of it, to make us pay for more and more of it. But is doesn’t work. We all know how badly run the American care system is. My grandfather used to say that the day the Government doesn’t look after the NHS is the day he would stop putting his hand in his pocket to pay his taxes.