The following article about our Chairman appeared in the Barking and Dagenham Post in April 2012
I actually owe my parentage to the Post! During World War II my mother Joyce Warren read a piece in the Post by the Mayor Cllr Mrs Evans criticising local girls for not doing enough for the war effort and urging them to write to the troops serving overseas. Mum sent letters as requested and one was passed randomly to Don Blake of Arnold Road, Dagenham. They were pen-
I attended the old Beacontree Heath Junior School until 1959 – it was a run-
Like most kids in the 60s I had a job long before I left school – I had a gained a post with Hampstead Council (later Camden) as a library assistant. On the daily commute from Chadwell Heath I started to use the time reading up subjects we had never touched on at school – politics, economics, commerce, constitutional law. Within four years I had got myself through O and A levels. Working in the library was great fun and as Hampstead was a great area for the good and great I got to meet lots of interesting people. I spent five years working in Camden’s Housebound Library Service. It was one of those jobs when the unexpected always happened -
In 1966 I got my first taste of foreign travel when an uncle invited me to join a youth delegation to East Germany and the divided city of Berlin. The East Germans had made a mistake with our visas and on the last day of our visit we were there illegally – we waited anxiously at a railway station at the border, when two guards armed with sub-
By 1972 I was beginning to get itchy feet and decided to try for a totally different career path –I got myself a seasonal job as a white coat at Butlins Camp in Ayr, Scotland. People are always impressed when I say I was a white coat, until I explain that I was a kitchen skivvy and my choice tasks included sorting out food for the pigs swill. I survived three seasons, before I saw the error of my ways and returned to librarianship – I never strayed again! My next career moved was to Barking College as a senior library assistant where I remained until 1979 when I achieved a my ambition of gaining a place at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth where I gained a joint honours degree in librarianship and international politics. I became a chartered librarian in 1982. During my vacation periods I worked for Barking and Dagenham Library Service and I have very happy memories of working at the old Whalebone and Central libraries and I returned there when I graduated in 1982.
The following year, much to my surprise, I went back to Barking College as Deputy Librarian where I remained until my retirement in 2009 having spent a total of 32 years at the Rush Green site.
Volunteering has been very rewarding for me and I have made some great friends – I started on the Barking and Dagenham Talking Newspaper for the Visually Impaired in September 1988 as part of the Barking College team – the TN had been founded by college staff and has always supplied a team of readers. I have been on the committee of the Chadwell Heath Historical Society since it was founded in 1994. I am also very proud to have been a founder member of the Friends of Valence House and was on their committee for 11 years and museum volunteer for 12. Currently I am chairman and secretary of the Barking and District Historical Society. I took on the post for 1 year in 2000 to help them out and have been there ever since!
Any spare time I have is spent reading, doing crosswords, travelling and enjoying the company of friends.
I describe myself as one of nature’s plodders, but I always get there in the end. I have reached that stage in life when the bits have started to drop off, but probably more content with life than I have ever been.