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  • Writer's pictureTony Holden

Barbara @ 80

I thought to share some high points from my 80 years. I’ve headed my notes with the placenames of where we’ve lived.

 Nelson South Wales (1944-1966) – the key words were coal mining, chapel, COOP, Labour Party, choir. My father died when I was three. So, I was brought up by my mother who also looked after four male relatives. At the time the Welsh language wasn’t promoted, and I regret that I’m not bilingual. My teenage was marked by illness. But then at just 21 I got married to our (English) Methodist Minister! In many ways one of the main influences on my life was my Grandmother Sarah who died before I was born.


Accrington Lancashire (1966-1961) – in addition to our first home, getting the hang of being a minister’s wife, the life of our church, I went on a teacher-community-worker course at Chorley College (Lancaster University). It was a life changing choice for me, and a very good one.


Bilston Wolverhampton (1971-1976) – we had our twins in 1973. Yes twins! As usual there was church. I began teaching and school counselling. And, in an important move, I was a founder-member of the town’s interfaith group (with Enoch Powell as an MP to 1974).


London Borough of Newham (1976-1993-2006) – there was family with Sian and Adam and our multiracial church and community centre. I worked in teaching, community education and then managing adult-education and youth work. I worked for 30 years in Newham with its diversity and poverty. I went on two study-tours in India that remain with me to this day.


Loughton (1993-now) – we moved to a church house whilst Tony was in a National Methodist Church appointment (1993-1999). Then, as Tony worked again in east London, we got our own retirement house (1999-). We hope soon to move to a ground floor flat. For a woman from the South Wales valleys, I didn’t expect to retire (2006) to a London commuter town, let alone be here for 31 years and counting!


We live next to Epping Forest. I’m still able to walk down the slope to the Loughton High Road, its coffee bars, and to go to our Methodist church for coffee, prayer, crafting, a women’s group, worship. I look for the opportunity to talk with strangers. I especially enjoy encounters with people from different ethnic groups such as a Sikh man I met outside a charity shop. And of course, it’s great when I recognise the Welsh accent and then I’m back into the emotions of Welsh community life.


So, as we treasure our small families and many friends, what do I hope for (in addition to better health for us)? I long for our communities and world to be at peace. I care deeply that individuals treat each other with respect, kindness, even generosity. And I hope for Governments, systems and institutions to be based on human rights and justice.

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May 04

happy birthday grandma


Apr 29

Another lovely blog Barbara. Happy Birthday

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