Winifred Vera Doran (nee Jarvis) School teacher at Moreton Secondary Modern and Campden Comprehensive Schools. Volunteer helper at the Youth Club, St John Ambulance volunteer nurse and church flower arranger.
Strange that Vera took up teaching in some ways as she had never been to school herself. Brought up in a well to do family in South Wales, only daughter of a soldier who had fought in the Boer War she was destined for a quiet life, marriage and children. But it was not to be, a year after Hitler sent his troops into Poland in 1939 and the declaration of war she signed up to join the WRNS at a recruiting road show at Newport Station. Two weeks later she was heading towards Plymouth to report for duty as the Luftwaffe set about destroying the docks and surrounding areas.
Having fibbed that she could ride a motorcycle she was soon carrying dispatches to and from the base and then further afield. This was probably how she gained knowledge of and then a posting to Bletchley which in turn led eventually to overseas postings, first to Mombasa in Africa. She was offered a posting to Washington but turned it down, she had a point to prove to her father and so Africa it was. While there she climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in her time off as well as being invited to tea with the Admiral of the Pacific Fleet. Then to Ceylon, Trincomalee where she continued the Y Station work on intercepting Japanese Morse code traffic. Long hours, often in intense heat spent tuning into the Morse and having to write it down accurately before handing it over to be interpreted locally or sent back to Bletchley. When in later life she lost the ability to write 'proper' handwriting she took to using capitals, just as she had to do in the war and could still write very clearly.
After two years abroad she returned to a very cold UK in January 1945. After a spell at Plymouth again she was sent to Warrington before being demobbed in 1946. During this time she was called back to Plymouth to meet the King and Queen as part of a guard of honour.
After being demobbed Vera did a spell as an estate agent in London before taking up nursing at St Bartholomew's Hospital. She also found time to travel across war torn Europe with a friend, pitching up in Northern Italy having spent time 'sleeping out under the stars' as she put it. It was after this that she did a conversion course and thus trained as a teacher.
The contrast between what might have been and what was in Vera's life was stark and so it is little wonder that she loved working with children and young people, youngsters whose lives should be unsullied by war and the death and destruction she witnessed in Plymouth and London and the abject poverty of people in Africa and Ceylon. But also little wonder that she wanted young people to grab the opportunities that came their way in the way she had. She understood that everyone has something to offer, academic or not, but finding it might need some risk taking or adversity. Vera had had a good war and was a better teacher for it.