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Daphne Shrimpton, MGC 1954 Leaver

Malvern Alumnae 100 Daphne Woodrow

When I was at MGC, we were not encouraged to go to university and so, like many of my contemporaries, I firstly did a Cordon Bleu course and then a secretarial course in London. From there I was sent for an interview at 10 Downing Street and started a job there in the Secretariat, where we were known as the “Garden Room Girls” as our office overlooked the walled garden at the back of the building. I arrived at the tail end of the Suez crisis and my first boss was Sir Anthony Eden. He resigned through ill health about three months later and the only time I took dictation from him was to transcribe his resignation speech!

I then worked for Harold Macmillan for seven very fascinating years. As the office had to be manned twenty four hours a day, we worked night and weekend duties on a rota as well as normal hours. Macmillan spent many of his weekends at places like Blenheim Palace, Chatsworth, Petworth and, of course, Chequers so one met some very interesting people. I worked through some momentous times including the Suez crisis, the U2 incident, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Profumo affair to mention but a few. My trips abroad included Bonn, Paris, New York, Nassau and Washington DC meeting General de Gaulle and President Kennedy among others.

After Harold Macmillan resigned over the Profumo affair, my last year (before I left to get married) was spent very happily working for Sir Alec Douglas-Home. My last trip abroad with him was the very sad occasion of President Kennedy’s funeral in Washington.

In my day you were recruited straight from secretarial college but today I believe you would have to join the Civil Service to get a similar job. I was part of a very close-knit group and made friends for life.

What does success look like?

To feel fulfilled in your employment and to enjoy it.

What is your best piece of advice?

Have confidence in yourself, knowing that you have received a first class education and can achieve your ambitions.

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