Residents and staff at Connaught Court in York, are among those marking Remembrance Day safely at home.
Among them is 99 year old Joan Brown, who made an enormous contribution during WWII as a billeting officer, helping children and mothers who had been bombed out of their homes to find a safe place to stay.
Joan is calling on the community to make time to remember those who lost their lives and to “roll up their sleeves” to get through the pandemic.
Showing their support and respect, residents and staff have decorated the Home with poppies and are raising funds for The Royal British Legion. They will hold a service on Wednesday.
Joan was born in Pocklington in 1921. When war broke out, she was just 18 years old and training to be a secretary. She had ambitions to join the ATS, the women’s branch of the British Army, but her fiancé wouldn’t allow it. So instead Joan applied to the Ministry of Health to become a billeting officer in Pocklington.
She and her colleagues took care of over 100 children and mothers who had been bombed out of Hull, ensuring they were fed, clothed, and found somewhere to stay around the parishes of Pocklington and East Riding.
Not one child was turned away and the Yorkshire folk welcomed them with open arms. The years were hard. It was rewarding caring for these young ones, but there were very painful losses for so many.
Joan married her fiancé, Sid, and two weeks later he was sent to serve abroad. It was four years before they were reunited at the train station. Joan remembers: “I saw him on the bridge coming to meet me, what a happy day! The couple went on to have two children, and Joan now has four grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
Reflecting on wartime and also the current situation, Joan says:
There was no choice, it was all shoulders to the wheel, you rolled up our sleeves and got on. Perhaps that’s that what we do now. We need to remember how we are free and what a cost it has been and what a sacrifice was made. Make the most and the best of every day. Let’s be positive and roll up our sleeves again!
Home Activities Co-ordinator, Fran Tagg, said:
Our residents are of a generation who have been directly affected by the terrible loss suffered during two World Wars, so Remembrance Day is of great significance to our Home. Even in these challenging times, it is important that we enable our residents to take part and join them in paying our respects. Joan is a wonderful woman, she has so much dignity and wisdom. Her experience is very humbling, and we are so proud to care for her at our Home.