Jean Rigby

Jean Rigby

Posted on Posted in remarkable lives

"I was born in 1930. I had a very happy childhood. Went to a Quaker boarding school – a wonderful experience. Because I enjoyed school so much It determined my future career as a school teacher. If I hadn’t been a teacher I would have been a stand-up comic! But in those days, there was no such profession as that. I can remember my first day at school. Why? Because I was dragged there! I wasn’t a willing pupil at that time.

My parents were shopkeepers but I won a scholarship to a boarding school. It was co-education as well…well I had to have the boys. A girls only school would not be for me – I had to be able to show my knickers!"

Laughter at the nursing home in Cheltenham
Young Jean, now living at the Hollies

"The school was in the Cotswolds and there weren’t many straight roads. All up and down. And skating in your gymslip is difficult, so I used to roll up the slip and tuck it into my knickers. Now, in the wartime, two of my teachers used to take their Austin Seven and use their petrol ration just driving around the countryside. The day they were out on one of their drives was the day that Jean Davies (me as was) and her friend Jean Moon were out breaking every school rule. I remember it was 1944, because the rest of them were busy with the war.

School Rule no’1: if you were going out, you signed the Walk Book. Didn’t do that. Rule no’2: you certainly weren’t allowed out on your roller skates. But Rule no’3: you DID NOT show your knickers! But I had my gymslip tucked up into mine and I was going down the hill with not a care in the world, singing the latest song with not the right words and…Miss Burgess saw me. I nearly caused her to have a heart attack and lose control of her driving wheel. I got my come-uppance that day. But believe it or not, they made me Head Girl. Well, I had to wear the gymslip properly then. No tucking it up in my knickers. I was in a representative capacity."

Happy resident at The Hollies nursing home
Crafting at the Hollies nursing home in Cheltenham

“During the air raids it was a difficult time to be living, with all the blackouts, especially in the centre of Birmingham. Our shelter was an Anderson Shelter in the garden, on top of which my dad had put turf. I thought to make it look nicer, but apparently it was for camouflage. My brother and I looked forward to the air raids because it was an opportunity to go and have some fun.

I’ve still got my father’s diary from 1930, the year I was born, which he gave me on my first day at boarding school. It’s full of poems because my Dad had a regular column in the local newspaper where they lived then in Blackburn, Lancashire. He wrote a poem every week. Down to the Valley…Come to the Meadows…Daffodil Time…The Woodland Maid…Lancashire Lasses…and one about a Christmas Pudding! Very topical and all totally correct, grammatically.”

Jean. 86. School Teacher. Embroiderer. Almost a Standup Comic. Rollerskater. Very happily living at The Hollies Care Home in the Cotswolds, UK.

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