Our Marketing and Communications officer, Helen, had a wonderful morning with the ladies of St Catherine’s our nursing home in Newcastle, as they mark International Women’s Day.
“What a wonderful way to spend the morning,” said Helen. “Listening to our residents and hearing their inspiring life stories was a true honour.
Strong independent women who had successful careers in male-dominated industries. They had lived through WW2, were mothers, great grandmothers, had accomplished so much and many were into their 90’s.
Now taking a much-deserved slower pace of life, they shared pearls of wisdom, tips for good health, and long life. Their stories and lives were truly inspirational. So, I thought, what better day to share some of them than International Women’s Day.”
Jeannie aged 90
Jeannie’s greatest love is dancing. In her younger days, she was a Ballerina and regularly danced in shows, musical productions, and charity events.
But it wasn’t all a song and dance. Her training took a lot of hard work and dedication. She talks about her younger days training to become a professional dancer- “You weren’t allowed to sit down the whole lesson. You would go in fresh as a daisy and leave on your knees. After every lesson I swore I wouldn’t go back but each week I turned up because I wanted it so badly. I’ll never forget the day I got to dance the sugar plum fairy, a beautiful but very challenging dance!”
Her advice to the women of today is, “As you go through life you are always changing. Life is changing you can only do the best with what circumstances you have at the time, but as long as you give it your best, that’s all that matters.”
Monica Jackson, aged 85
Monica had always wanted to be a schoolteacher, ever since she was young. “I always knew that was what I was born to do said Monica.”
After school she completed college and went on to teach for over 40 years at St Joseph’s Primary School in Blaydon. During that time Monica touched the hearts of so many children and families. She even taught three generations from one family. When she retired, she was presented with a beautiful poem written by one of her former students, which hangs pride of place in her room at St Catherine’s.
Her advice to the young women today:
“Choose a job that you really want to do, something you really feel dedicated to and just do your best.”
Selma aged 93
Selma really enjoyed recalling how her lifelong love of the arts opened many different doors throughout her life …
Selma’s love of drawing led her to her first job – one that was, perhaps, a little unusual for a woman in those days. She produced technical drawings for a mining engineering company in Newcastle.
Later in life, she went down a different path but kept her career within the arts but this time speech and drama.
“I taught speech and drama to students at home and had some amazingly talented people. I even went to London with one brilliant student to accompany her on an audition for the Italia Conti Academy. I don’t know who was more pleased when she was accepted!”
But, Selma’s life wasn’t all glitz and glamour. She also spent many years working as a social worker with Catholic Care – now St Cuthbert’s Care.
“That was hard work, demanding and full of highs and lows,” said Selma. “I’m very lucky, though. Looking back, I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve done.”