My life across 7 UK Censuses

Following the great example of @JanetFew #Census2021, I have put together a potted history…

23 April 1961

I had been called ‘Pickle’ for almost 6 weeks, then Mum lost the birth certificate on the way home from the Registrar, but by 23rd of April I had had almost a week to get used to being called Helen.  I was born in Okehampton Hospital and lived at Cleave House, Sticklepath, Devon. (No TV and no thoughts of #OnePlaceStudies or #OnePlaceWomen then!)

Ann Bowden, proud Mum and Baby Helen, christening day 1961

25 April 1971

At about this time I went to the ex-headteacher of Sticklepath County Primary School to learn to write essays about Henry VIII and Florence Nightingale, in order to pass the entrance exam for Edgehill College, a girls only Methodist boarding school in Bideford.  I was in Belvoir House, the youngest and probably smallest girl in my year. I think we had a tiny black and white TV. No credit or debit cards, microwaves, mobile phones or computers.

Edgehill uniform. In need of a comb!

5 April 1981

A pompous pathologist in Exeter had said I couldn’t do his job because I would have to be a doctor first – hence I found myself at Bristol University medical school. I was almost ready to be let loose on the unsuspecting public as a clinical medical student by April 1981. Though I wasn’t a very good student, far too many other things to be doing, so I had to spend that summer doing re-sits.  My address would have been Manor Hall, one of the University Halls of residence. I would have been looking forward to going back to Devon for Easter (April 19th)

21 April 1991

Having married in 1986, by 1991 we had our two daughters.  In April we were in the midst of moving from Powderham Road, Exeter to Demesne Road, Wallington, Surrey.  Mike had moved up to London (St George’s and The Marsden haematology rotation) in February but we needed a house before the rest of us could join him. I was doing locums and about to start GP training in Croydon. We had a brick of a mobile phone but poor reception so it had to be kept on the front window sill when we were on call. We had not long had our first home computer.

Helen and younger daughter who has lost her pony…

29 April 2001

Mike was a consultant and I was a GP in Hull, living in Priory Cottage 14 Northgate Cottingham, beside a level-crossing.  The girls were at Beverley High School for girls.  Lots of ‘taxi-ing’ girls to netball and orchestras. The following decade saw us taking a small number of holidays abroad – a fairly new venture for us.

27 March 2011

After a short stay in Shrewsbury we left the UK for 2 years, from October 2010- October 2012, as VSO volunteer doctors in Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world.  So we missed this census completely.  I was working in palliative care, helping to teach people how to use morphine medicine safely and treating Kaposi’s sarcoma (HIV related cancer). We had a brief holiday in Egypt around census time.  I still have no idea about emoji’s but we could sometimes Skype. The majority of Malawians have no electricity, and we all have ‘power sharing’ ie regular power cuts as there is not enough to go around. We do have a small fridge but no washing machine. The chicken was a gift from a patient!

Dennis our gardener highly amused by Helen’s Chicken

21 March 2021

After some years in Gloucester (again Mike as haematologist and myself as a GP), living in the midst of the beautiful ancient beech woods of Cranham, we retired at the end of 2019. We moved up to York to live with our older daughter and grandson just before lockdown began in 2020. Now we have all moved to a small village North of York. I started my Sticklepath One-Place study, set up my first website and wrote my first blog posts 6 months ago. Due to Covid restrictions my 60th birthday was celebrated with a Zoom murder mystery (with a Bake Off theme!) after chicken and chips (reminding me of Malawi but cooked in an air fryer so very healthy!) Not quite what we had planned but memorable! Sunny weather today hopefully means spring is here to stay 🙂 and there is a plan to come out of lockdown…

Mike and I Census day 2021


4 thoughts on “My life across 7 UK Censuses

  1. Pingback: My Life in 6 Censuses – Jolliffe Genealogy

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