To honour International Women’s Day on 8 March, a resident at RMBI Care Co. Home Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh Court, in Berkshire, recalls her own experience during the Second World War. Joan Parr (100) was a Royal Air Force driver back then. One of her tasks was to drive soldiers to assigned locations.
“I remember this one time when I thought I had picked up a German spy. The reason is that, whenever he spoke, he would say ‘yah’, not ‘yes’. Just to distract him, I said that something sounded funny in the engine and got out of the car. Then I took an adjustable spanner and… bang! I hit him over the head with it.
“Later, I found out he was not a German spy. He just happened to be Polish… and he was on our side!” she laughs.
After the war, Joan worked at C&A Modes in Kensington, where she enjoyed a four weeks’ holiday (back in the 1950s, many companies only allowed two weeks’ holidays.) In that period of her life, Joan met her future husband in a ballroom. When she saw him, she asked him to dance. “Yes, please!” was his answer. They got married in 1947, when Joan was 25.
When asked about any tips for younger women in work and love, Joan draws from her own life experience: “Always do a job you enjoy and don’t be afraid to ask,” she says. She also has a word of advice: “Enjoy every day and be grateful to your mother – mothers help bring you to maturity!”
Joan is now 100. What has contributed to her longevity? “I take regular walks in the daytime, even if it’s raining. I enjoy plain food and never drink heavily – just the occasional glass when with company,” she confesses.