Mini-Autobiography – Janet Taylor

I was pleased to be asked to write the first of this new series of profiles of local residents, but at the same time I wasn’t sure how to tackle something I haven’t done before. It’s my hope you’ll enjoy what you read. After all, many of you already know me. I’m Janet Taylor (formerly Stocking) of Thomas Bonnett’s and I live at Rowans, Lynn Road, Stoke Ferry.
I was Janet Ducklin, born in the Music Room of my parent’s house. Joan and Ted were tenant farmers, first in Stradsett and later in Whittington. At that time, farming was a really tough life, and much slower than today. We still worked with horses, but when we could afford one, tractors did make it easier. As I had no brothers or sisters, you can guess that at busy times, mine were the extra pair of hands needed to help out.
My first Primary School was Fincham. I was taught by Julian Clary’s Grandmother, who lived then on Wretton Road. When I was seven, we moved from Stradsett to Whittington. My father had inherited just enough to be able to buy his own small farm there. So for a short while I went to Whittington Primary.
But my parents moved me to Stoke Ferry Primary which they thought might be better as there were more pupils. My Secondary School was Methwold, which I left at 16, midway through my GCE’s, and enrolled at Pittman’s Secretarial College. Being a Secretary was thought to be a good career.
After two terms there, a cousin asked if I’d like to earn some money helping out at Boots in Downham Market over the Christmas rush time as they were short staffed. What teenager wouldn’t! And I loved it, chatting with people, helping them to find what they wanted. So when I was asked if I’d stay on, I took my chance. I had four very happy years there.
As you will guess, that puts me at the ‘girl meets boy’ age – and I did. That’s what brought me to Bonnetts, and to Stoke Ferry.
My mother-in-law was a Bonnett and she married a Stocking, and I married their son John. We had sons Chris and Paul, who have continued the family business, making the necessary changes to keep it up to date with what our customers want. When I married and joined the family, most business still involved repairing agricultural machinery. Now most work is bespoke ironwork – gates, railings, etc. with farm repairs the smaller side of the business, for which we now use a small portable forge.
With the decline in blacksmithing, and the increasing demand for hardware, we converted the two large forges into today’s shop and office which many of you will have visited.
Because I’d really enjoyed interacting with people at Boots, when Chris and Paul were school age, I went to work as School Secretary at our Primary School (then James Bradfield). Using some of the skills I’d learned at Pittman’s College.
This was followed by becoming a Registrar. Training for this involved working with a mentor for two weeks, I was able to take responsibility on my own. I loved the work, and feel especially lucky to have been able to register the births of my four grandchildren. Though Births and Marriages were fairly straightforward, the ’cause of death’ on a doctor’s Certificate needed careful checking. For instance – ‘Heart failure’ isn’t an acceptable cause of death. The certificate must record why the heart failed, ie. because of cancer, stroke, etc.
During my 20 years as a Registrar there were many changes. Now there are Civil Partnerships and Same Sex Marriages to Register.
Again, that early interest in people’s welfare prompted me to give two and a half days a month to work with the Red Cross. During those 30 years, I took the opportunity to take Casualty Simulation Training. We would act out what might happen in an accident – serious cuts, broken bones, bleeding nose, etc. and ask people what they thought they should do to help. We could then show them the right way to treat that injury. When ‘Look East’ on BBC TV did a series each day portraying different mock accidents, I appeared on the programme to show the correct treatment for a nose bleed! And at Norwich City Football Ground, I helped with the Training and Co-ordination of the Emergency Services.
Many accidents or illnesses can leave a person with scarring about which they feel self-conscious, so I took a two week intensive training course on Skin Camouflage techniques and worked within the Dermatology Department in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital so that I could help patients with such problems as Rosacia, Vitaligo, Scars and Birthmarks. How to use special camouflage creams to cover their problem and give them back their confidence. Again, I appeared on BBC TV. On the ‘Inside Out’ programme, when they were highlighting the condition Vitaligo – where patches of the skin make no pigment and for which there is no cure, I showed how this could be disguised.
When the Red Cross service celebrated its thirtieth year in the area, I was lucky enough to be introduced to Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.
Now though, its Stoke Ferry I support. I think its a great place to live, one worth working for. So I’m on the Parish Council where I am Vice Chairman. I’d love to see all the village, all ages, work together to promote a real community spirit, to make it even better. After all, we are lucky to live in this wonderful part of the country.
And to finish, some likes – I prefer TV to film or theatre, enjoy reading biographies, and chill out with Rom Com. Enjoy eating out at The Crown Lodge, Upwell, though my favourite food is fish and chips, best of all eaten on a family outing to our beautiful coast. Though I do also enjoy a day’s shopping in Bury St. Edmunds with its easy parking and mix of shops centrally located.
And yes, I do have a pet hate. People who make litter for others to pick up. I think you’ll agree that we should treasure and protect our beautiful countryside. We are lucky to live here.

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