Joy Milward, Lawnside 1942
Looking back over a long life, I realise that my parents’ decision to send me to Mrs Hoster’s (a prestigious secretarial college) rather than following my chosen career of Nursing, stood me in good stead for my varied - and at times traumatic - life that followed.
I began work in January 1944 at the Offices of the War Cabinet and was soon transferred downstairs to the underground war rooms in the Joint Planning Secretariat where we were privileged to very top secret information including typing the battle orders for D-Day. I went to the Potsdam Conference and then three months in the States for the Bretton Woods Conference with Maynard Keynes.
In 1946 I joined the Archbishop of Canterbury’s staff. Married in 1949, we bought our first home in 1956. At this time we caught polio, and my husband died aged 32. With three children under six, and a fourth on the way, it was back to work. First, I worked from home; then undertook part-time jobs followed by being appointed Director of Educational Services at the National Book League. This led me to short course teacher training, with jobs in a girls’ grammar and a mixed comprehensive in Surrey. I was headhunted for the NHS as a trainer in health education and was given the opportunity to increase my subject base. Finally, I managed two county-wide services for Age UK Surrey – counselling and training. Ten years ago, totally unexpectedly, my War Cabinet days surfaced again, engaging me in challenging, exciting events on television, press and other interviews and involvement in national events.
Since the age of 14, I’ve been involved in a variety of voluntary work; followed my thirst for learning, gaining five national qualifications, culminating at the age of 75 in an Oxford Masters degree – with Distinction - in Theology. Thanks to Lawnside, my love of music and my public speaking involvement has multiplied so that I’ve met thousands of people and made wonderful friendships. The most important things in my life are my three children, eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
What’s your best piece of advice?
I would hesitate to give advice except to say that I think the skills of management, organisation and communication are essential. I had no game-plan and changed jobs as my circumstances changed so seize the day, accept opportunities and challenges, and stick with it. Remember, failure is not the end but the beginning of success.