Winifred Fairchild - Medicine

My name is Winifred Annie Fairchild. I was a Watson before I was married. I was born in Woolsthorpe and I had one sister and five brothers. My brothers were Frank, Harry, Len who was twin to Mary, Les and Charlie. Len is the only brother still alive. We all lived together in this small cottage down in the old village that only had two bedrooms. My mother and father and the two girls had one bedroom and the five boys had the other. When we came to live in one of the council houses up the Woolsthorpe Road, it was lovely. There were three bedrooms, one for mum and dad, one for Mary and I and the boys had the big one. We thought it was marvellous. People don't have such big families nowadays. They nearly always used to marry within the village. We were all related to each other. I lived here until I got married when I went to London. I married Stan Fairchild who was in the Air Force and he was based at Cottesmore Aerodrome and came from Hounslow. I met him at a dance. I used to go with Iris Senescall every Saturday night to a dance in Oakham and that's where I met him. Both of us met our husbands there. I was married in Colsterworth Church by the Reverend Barraclough in 1952. I wore a white dress with a bouquet and all the trimmings and two bridesmaids.

I had two brothers married and one had got two girls and one had got three girls but rather than cause any upset when choosing my bridesmaids, I chose two friends and they were in lavender. We had our reception in our front room at home, like most folks did then, and we went to Doncaster for three days for our honeymoon because my husband only had a few days' leave. We went on the Saturday and came back on the Monday as he had to report back to camp on the Tuesday. We were pleased he was at Cottesmore as he would be able to come home for the week-ends but then he had a posting to Northern Ireland! I still lived at home but when he came back we went down to London and found rooms just round the corner from his mother, who was a bit clingy as he was her only son. We rented rooms in someone's house because there was no way we could get a house. Keith was born down there and it was very awkward living in these rooms with a baby. I came up home and they were building these council houses and I asked my mother if she thought we could get one if we came and lived up here. She said she was sure we could, so we came and lived at home. It was a tight squeeze but it was only for two or three months. So we came back to this part of the country and Stan got work on the Ironstone. He was a painter, like his dad. He had done a lot of painting and decorating with his dad, so when he went to enquire, he got a job in the paint shop straight away. I worked in Grantham at the shoe factory, Freeman, Hardy and Willis. I had worked there for eight years before I got married. I was a machinist sewing the linings of the shoe to the uppers on what was called a 'run-around' machine. The work was brought from Leicester for the ladies' shoes and from Northampton for the men's shoes by lorry every day, and then taken back at night to be finished off there, like having the soles put on and having the stitching done. When I first started at the shoe factory five us were taken by taxi every day to Leicester to learn the job and brought home every night. This went on for a fortnight. I was on piece work, which means you got paid by how many you did.

When I was going to be married I tried to do extra. I had got used to the machine and I really went at it. I came out with quite a good wage but you had to keep going. I used to catch the works bus at the bottom of the Woolsthorpe Road at Bridge-end every morning at a quarter past seven. At night I caught the half-past five bus home. It was quite a long day with an hour off for our lunch. There was a canteen but the factory was fairly new then and the canteen had not been fitted up so my friend and I used to take a big tin of soup and heat it up on the cooker that was there. I liked the job, I was quite happy there. When the houses were ready at The Close, we moved down into number 8 at the bottom. We lived there 34 years and that's where I had my other son, Brian. There are 7 years between the two boys. When the council started to put heating in the houses for the over 65s my husband was under 65 so we couldn't have it, although I was over 65 and I'd had my stroke by then and felt the cold very much. It was suggested to us that we'd be better off in the bungalow, so we put down for a bungalow. They were building some in Sandon Close in Grantham although they only had one bedroom. However they were all being let to people who were being rehoused so we got one here, close to where we lived before. We had to get a letter from the doctor and Dr Birch at the hospital wrote for me to the Council and that's how I got this one. When it all went through, the bungalow was in my name so my husband said, "Here you are, it's yours. You can pay the rent!" Actually when I lost him, in 1989, it made things easier in that there was no bother about change of tenant or anything like that. There are proposals to change all the council housing in this area into tenants' associations, including the ones that have been built on the old site of Newton Court.

I do not want to move there because I know everybody round here and I have a lot of helpful friends. For instance if a light bulb goes I have only got to ring up my neighbour and he'll come and do it. A lad on the front comes and does my garden, and Pearl on the top corner comes in on a Monday and cleans for me, and if anything electrical goes wrong Mr Robotham, who is a retired electrician, will come round. Olive Adams used to take me to the hairdresser's but when I got my car and her hip went, I started taking her or sometimes Fred takes us both if the weather is bad. I can't leave all these helpful people, I rely on them and I know them all. Sometimes people say that folks don't help each other like they used to, but I think a lot do. We just get a few odd ones. When you have a network of help, you don't want to go somewhere else and have to start again. My sons wanted to buy one on the Bocock Estate for me. "You will be nearer the Chapel and nearer the doctor." they said. But that would not be any easier for me. I still couldn't walk there. So I am staying here. Keith is my eldest and then I went 7 years and had Brian. Both of them went to Colsterworth School. Keith passed his 11-plus and went to King's School in Grantham. Then he went on to Sheffield University and took his degree. He is in the electronic business. He has been all over the world, America, Australia and China. He covers Europe for his firm. He is always going over to Germany or France. Last week he was in Israel. Brian wanted to do the same as his brother but he didn't pass his 11-plus and he went to the school at Corby Glen. He and Alistair Schofield were the first ones to get their O-levels at that school. Then he went on to Grantham College and got his A-levels and then went to Leicester University where he got his B.A. with Honours. After that he went on to Canterbury and got his M.A. They wanted him to stay on do his doctorate but he was tired of living on the bread line by now.

When he came home, all his pals from school had jobs and money and he thought it was time for him to do the same. He only got what we gave him. The headmaster of Corby Glen, Tom Hoggart, when he retired he took over our Stroke Club. I said to him, "You'll never guess what Brian's doing now." He said. "There's no telling with your lad!" "Well, he's taken an Open University Course." "That boy lives for learning." I don`t know where he got it from, he doesn't take after me. I think it must be on Stan's side. He worked for Mencap for years but now he works for Nottingham County Council and his wife works there part-time as well. Brian lives near Nottingham not far from the beautiful Nature Reserve at Attenborough, and Keith near Cambridge, so they are both quite close. Both my boys have done well. My father was a foreman up at the ironstone mines and my grandfather worked on the land so my family has come a long way in a couple of generations. My stroke happened when we went on holiday in 1980 when I was about 52. It appeared that I had high blood pressure but I didn't know that. I was working for the Post Office delivering the papers. I used to drive about 48 miles a day. I used to go all round Stoke and Easton, Ponton Heath, Skillington, Buckminster, Sewstern and down to Gunby and Stainby and North Witham. Mr Graham was the Post Master then. Sometimes the car would break down and I had punctures, I had all sorts of trouble. Mr Graham wasn't too pleased when anything like that happened! We went on this holiday to Jersey with some friends from Folkestone. We got there on the Saturday. Sunday we went out and planned what we were going to do over the fortnight. I remember going to the Car Museum there on the Monday. I went to bed all right but in the night, I was in a single bed and I rolled over and landed on the floor. I couldn't get up and my husband had to lift me up. I said that I was all right but he went and called the doctor and I ended up in hospital. So I had a fortnight's holiday in hospital. I was there a month and then I went to Mundesley Rehabilitation Unit for training and then back to Grantham Hospital.. So I went away at the beginning of April and I got back home at the end of June.

My left arm was affected so much it is no use to me, luckily I am right-handed, and my left leg is weak. The stroke affected down my left side. I go to the Stroke Club in Grantham once a fortnight. A taxi comes for me and brings me back to the door. I like going to the Stroke Club, we are all in the same boat. When we go on outings there is always someone to push you. We go all over the place, up to Matlock and other places in Derbyshire, and we always have a day at Skegness. We go to a lot of garden centres, the one near Peterborough and one near Louth we've been to. If we go to Baytree, we have our lunch there and then go on to Springfields. We went to the one near Cold Overton when we were on a ride round and we just called in for a cup of tea. "Come on in," they said, "You're booked in. Your tables are all set up." We were quite surprised but we did as we were told and sat down and started on these sandwiches and cakes. "Stop eating!" they cried. "It's not your tea, there's been a mistake!" We had to get up and pay for what we'd eaten. As we were going out, we saw the bus coming in with another party, the right one this time. "Quick!" we cried out to our driver, "Let's go before they find out we've eaten their tea!" My husband made a lot of alterations to the house to suit me when I had my stroke. The Council would do nothing for me. He redesigned the kitchen for me and the bathroom though we had a six-month fight with the council to get a suitable bath. The one we had was too high. I struggled with a board and a stool but it was no use. I have a seat now on a battery that goes up and down. I remember him saying that he was going to decorate all through the bungalow and when we retired, which wouldn't be long, we could take it easy. It isn't wise to plan too much. There was a meeting yesterday at the Chapel about turning all council property into tenants' housing associations. The councillors and the warden came and told us the arguments for keeping management with the council or change to these tenants housing associations. I said that we couldn't do worse. If you want the council to do anything, they won't do it.

I go to the Chapel now. I used to be Church but I was invited to go to the Open Door on a Wednesday where you can have a lunch and chat to people and so on, and then I started going to the services and I go most Sundays now. They are really helpful people, the Methodists. I can take myself down but if there is something special on like the Anniversaries when the parking spaces are likely to be full, Bill Senescall comes for me and brings me back. I have a car which has been adapted for me to drive. I used to drive before I had my stroke and when I was left on my own, I thought,"Well. I'm lost!" My husband used to tell me not to bother about driving, he would take me wherever I wanted to go. Lots of women who have lost their husbands can't drive and they are stuck. The young people are not going to have that problem because they all learn to drive as soon as they are 17, both girls and boys. When we were first married, we started off with a motor-bike and side-car. We used to go down to London in it to visit his mother, Stan driving and Keith and me in the side-car. When we had Brian, my sister said,"You`re not going to take that baby in that rattling sidecar are you?" So we bought a car instead, a Morris Minor and we had it for years. My husband passed his test and then Keith and Brian when they were old enough and the only person who had not passed was me. And Stan said, "Right! You can go and learn now," and that is what happened. The boys were shocked when I said I was going to take up driving. I hadn't driven for about 11 years! Brian took me to a special school at Derby where I was tested to see if I was capable, which I was. The people at this school told us what sort of car to get and what I would need putting on it. We came back to Grantham and went to Ford's and with the help of the mobility place we got the car all fixed up. I had to buy the power steering and the five-point controls that go on the steering wheel and the thing that has to go on the brake. This made it expensive but when I bought a new car at any time, these gadgets could be changed over to the new car. So I only had to pay for them the once. They changed the car for me every three years but in one of them I had only done about 8,000 miles so my son had it for his daughter.

She drove it almost into the ground and in the end it was such a wreck somebody wanted it for spare parts and she swopped it for a lawn-mower! The new cars come with automatic anyway so I don't have to have that changed. Sometimes people have said to me, "Look how well you've got on!" but you know, you've got to push yourself and make yourself do it. I had a friend and she used to sit and say, "I can't do it, I can't do it." Whereas I would try and make myself walk, she had to have a wheelchair fetched for her. People won't try. They don't realise it is only you yourself that can do these things. Every time you push yourself to so something you think, "Oh good, that's another thing I've achieved." Everything I do is one-handed of course. I have an electric tin-opener now. When we first had it Stan said, "We're not going to live on beans are we?" At one time I had to ask a neighbour to open my tins for me. When I got this electric tin-opener it was so nice to be independent. Pearl comes in every Monday and hoovers through for me and does other jobs. She is very good. The Home Care lady - the social services as was - comes every morning to help me wash, dress and make the bed but they are not allowed to change the bed. They will make the bed - well straighten it - during the week but they won't change it. Also they are not allowed to clean the bath. At one time, they changed the bed and cleaned the kitchen, it was in the contract, but not now.

They are always changing the arrangements. They come again at night to help me undress. It is not the same person all the time, they vary. You never know who you are getting. I have to get the stamp every week to pay for the service from the Post Office. They used to be allowed half an hour to go for you but they don't do it now. It costs me 27 a week. At one time they used to do my vegetables. You can imagine trying to peel potatoes with one hand or cutting a cauliflower. I used to try to chop a cabbage up by putting it on the floor and placing my foot on it to hold it and then I tried to chop it up. It used to shoot out all over the place! One of the girls offered to do it for me but that was stopped. They might cut themselves! I've had a few ups and downs with them, especially when they walk the dirt in from outside. When I suggested they took their shoes off, - "We're not allowed to in case we drop something on our feet and we can't claim compensation." Gradually the service has gone down and down over the years. They don't do many baths now, you have to pay somebody else to bath you. They can't put a fresh light bulb in or anything like that. I get half an hour in the morning and a quarter of hour at night. Really, they are coming to see if I am still here. If you try to help yourself, people will give you offers of help. Some folk moan about their aches and pains. Down at our club, I used to be the one going round to collect the money and the men used to remark on how I got around when they couldn't. "That's because you don't try," I would say. My motto has been never to give in and I have tried to live up to it.