Joan Cool 104 – Life Story

LYME Regis resident Joan Cool celebrated her 104th Birthday at Fairfield House this week, Joan – who has two children, five grandchildren and five great grandchildren – was born on October 23 1919 in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, before moving to Moorlea in 1927.

She went to Greenhead High School after passing her 11 plus exam when she was only 10 years old.

Joan joined a fever hospital when she was 17 as she was not yet old enough to go into general nursing, but passed her nursing exams when she was 21.

During the war, in 1943, Joan joined the Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service at RAF Halton.

She was later posted to the RAF Hospital at Wroughton, Swindon, which was a casualty clearing station for D-Day and was among the sisters to march past the King in the first Battle of Britain Parade.

She commented: “We used to take in casualties every other night so we could deal with things that needed doing, then they would be passed on to a hospital , probably nearer to their hometown. It was sad in a way because they were the youth of our generation. It was such a waste.”

After the war ended, Joan got a job as an industrial nurse at hat manufacturers Christy and Co, where she met her husband John. He was the buyer, had gone to war and returned to the job he had had since he was 14 and worked his way up from office boy to head buyer.

She spent a year and a half at the factory before the NHS came in so they no longer needed a trained nurse, but Joan said she didn’t mind as she was then married.

They married in January 1948 and had their first child, Jaqueline, in April 1949, followed by a son, Michael, in January 1952, but Joan carried on nursing as they grew up.

In the 1960s, Joan and John gained a reputation for organising caravan rallies all over Europe and in 1993 they moved to Lyme Regis where Joan joined the WI.

It was mainly due to her being branch secretary that Joan decided to get a computer instead of using a typewriter and she has become a bit of a tech-whiz for her age, regularly joining in local debates on Facebook.

When asked about her longevity, Joan said: “I had a good start in childhood and when I was training, we always had good meals and I looked after myself. If I had anything wrong ,I wouldn’t wait until it got me, I went straight away to the doctor. I had two great-aunts, one lived until 102 and the other lived until she was 105.”

Joan celebrated her 104th Birthday with her son Michael, Daughter in law Cath, granddaughter Hannah and their dog Obi who travelled down from Rugby to spend the afternoon with her.

Joan would like to thank everyone for all the wonderful cards she was sent, so far Joan has received over 90, and still more are coming through the post each day! It’s so thoughtful, and I couldn’t believe the amount I received. All the beautiful cards are displayed in my bedroom where I look at them and smile!

Joan said she absolutely loved opening the cards up from Mrs Ethelstons Primary School and seeing the different drawings, colours, and beautiful handwritten messages, thank you!