Ellen Prockter, who wrote the original Marlborough People book to mark the millennium, talks to a relatively ‘new’ Marlborough person, Carole Walker manager of the Jubilee Centre – one of the town’s essential services…
I was born in Johannesburg 1959, but by the time I was eleven we were living in Kloof, a predominantly white, English-speaking suburb of Durban. My ancestry is British – grandparents and great-grandparents coming from England, Scotland and Wales.
Like many young white people in South Africa, I was unaware of apartheid – it was only during my gap year in England that I began to question the system. Back home I married Ian and we had three daughters.
When Amy was fifteen, Meegan thirteen and Gemma eleven we decided to move to England. Ian’s sister had moved to Australia prior to the creation of a new democratic South Africa, but for us it was the deteriorating business conditions and the escalating crime rate.
A few months before the move Ian and I came over to look for a job for Ian, a house, a school and a church. All were found reasonably locally which was fortunate. We also brought over Ian’s mother, who was suffering from dementia, which was a challenge. Initially we rented in Shalbourne New Town but hoped to buy in Marlborough.
We all struggled in those early months – Ian’s mother died within the year. There were houses that we liked in Marlborough but, every time we were gazumped. We subsequently bought in Ramsbury and have been happy there.
Our Christian faith helped us in those early days. A friend introduced us to Christchurch, Marlborough and we were befriended immediately. There were many children of a similar age to our girls which helped with the transition. Christianity has been a continuing force in all our lives. This year Meegan and Max Perkin were married in Holy Cross, Ramsbury, with Max’s father officiating.
I had my own agency business in South Africa and I tried to carry on here bringing in African goods but it wasn’t viable. It was also a lonely occupation and I moved to working at the Mustard Seed for a couple of years.
In 2004, after working as a carer, I applied to be Manager of the Jubilee Centre, a day care facility for the elderly in Marlborough High Street. I’m still there, supported by an excellent assistant manager, Audrey Williams, a small, but, very effective committee led by Jeremy York and a good team of volunteers.
Three days a week the Jubilee supports members with love, care and nutrition, enabling them to stay in their own homes. On Wednesdays and Thursdays we have drop-in days when anyone over 60 can come for a reasonably priced three course lunch.
After ten years perhaps I should be looking for new challenges, but it would be hard to say goodbye to the Jubilee. I also feel really comfortable in Marlborough – my life is enriched by working on the High Street – I meet so many people.
I think the members would miss my dogs more than me – Duzi (a river in South Africa) and Shaka (a Zulu chief).
Outside work Ian and I like to swim at Littlecote and then walk the dogs there. My passion is sewing – I made my outfit for Meegan’s wedding – and love doing alterations.
Ian started his own business eight years ago, but, his passion is for cooking. He has catered for several weddings, including Meegan’s. Being a quantity surveyor is a great asset for portion control! I love helping him – possibly something we could do professionally in the future?
Would we ever return to South Africa? We go back every year – this year twice because my father died. My girls are now British citizens living in London. There are still many problems in South Africa – particularly poverty and crime – but who knows what the future might bring.