Brenda Medhust is 82 and has been at Willows for two-and-a-half years. She first came to the home to recover from fracturing her hip. Her late husband fought in Korea, before they settled down for a long and happy life together. Brenda is very sociable and really enjoys the activities at Willows.
She recently enjoyed a day out in Southend with some of her fellow-residents. “The carers here are really good,” she says. “They do a lot to keep us occupied.”
Willows resident Jack Eakins spent his career working in Dagenham for Ford. He used to be a prototype tester and was involved in the development of some of Britain’s most popular cars, including the Cortina, the Escort and the Sierra. He also lived through one of the most turbulent periods of social change the country has ever seen.
Jack was at Ford when the female sewing machinists who made the seat covers for Ford cars walked out on strike in 1968 over inequality in how much they were paid compared to their male colleagues. They were ultimately victorious and as a direct result of their action, parliament passed the Equal Pay Act in 1970. Jack remembers the strike well, although he was not personally involved “I kept my head down,” he laughs. The Dagenham machinists’ strike was dramatised in the excellent 2010 film “Made in Dagenham”.
Ida has vivid memories of working for the Army Post Office in World War 2, and being on duty on the night of D-Day, listening to the planes go over all night. Army mail went with the soldiers, so her job was to bag it up to be sent to the airfields. She and the other girls would often see mail for people that they knew, so they would add notes to them on the envelope.
She remembers that she knew where her sister’s husband was long before her sister did, but of course she wasn’t allowed to tell her!
Mavis Isitt is Willows’ resident dancer. At 84 years old, she is no longer as agile as she used to be, but that doesn’t stop her from getting up for a dance when the feeling takes her.
She was a professional tap-dancer for most of her working life and her troupe – the Winsorettes – were local celebrities around Dagenham.
Eve is 92 coming up to 93 and has been at Willows for 4 years and is the second eldest of 6 children.
Eve remembers there was plenty of dating during the war, plenty of boyfriends, and they all had a lovely time. Eve was taken out to the pictures and as it got to the end of the film she used to make an excuse and scuttle out!
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