Meet Victoria Gray

 

If you want things to happen, you should be willing to help make them happen. Perhaps that’s what I told myself when I joined the Committee planning celebrations for the Queen’s Jubilee in 2012. I must admit that I’d no idea what would happen next. But I’ll tell you about that later.
I first saw the light of day in the Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield, near Birmingham. My Dad, Nicholas Cook, was an engineer. After he retired, he became a self-employed electrician living in Malvern, Worcestershire. Mum, Elizabeth Corbin, opened a successful Estate Agency in Cambridgeshire. She moved to Somerset 20ish years ago, and recently moved to Snettisham.
For a long time I was an only child. Now I have two significantly younger half-sisters, Olivia and Danielle.
Which Primary School did I attend? Not one, but six altogether. My first schoolday was at Boldmere Infant School, Sutton Coldfield, the same school that my Mother and Uncle had attended, then I moved to Hill West Primary School in Hook Hill in the same town. My first Junior School was Boothville Junior in Northamptonshire, followed by Moulton Primary, and also in Northants – Windmill Primary in Raunds. After which I shifted to Fakenham Junior here in Norfolk.
As I was already in Fakenham, my first Secondary School was Fakenham ‘High School.’ I then moved to Lonsdale School for Girls as a boarder. When that school closed, I tried a week at Wisbech Grammar before finally becoming a boarder at Sutherland House School, Cromer.
My further education happened at the College of West Anglia, where I took a 2 year BTEC Course in Business and Finance. I applied for, and secured a place at a Polytechnic but I gave it up in favour of maintaining my relationship with the man who became my husband.
Although I’ve spent a good many years working, I didn’t actually choose a career. My first taste of work was as a waitress in Gifford Wine Bar in King’s Lynn. I began serious work as Sales Negotiator at Abbots in Downham Market, changing to Account Manager at Anglia in Wisbech, then to Key Account Manager, and Key Account Team Manager.
I then took time out from work. On 20th June, 2000, I was married in Wereham Village Church, followed by a reception at Lynford Hall, and I now have two lovely children, Dexter, 10, and Isabella, 7. Then I returned to work, first as Asset Controller, and turned full circle when I became an Account Manager again.
To get back to the beginning – in 2012, when the village was deciding how to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee, wanting to be of help, I joined the Organising Committee. Whilst on the committee, I became aware of the critical state of the wooden WW1 YMCA hut. Repairing it was tantamount to a complete re-build and seemed a case of good money chasing bad, replacing it with a new one was the only option. But how did one go about doing it? I’d offered to support the Committee with the job of applying for funding towards a new Hall, and when Sandra Pickwell retired from the post of Chairwoman, I took on the job.

 

And it was quite a job. With the help of the charity’s Secretary, Helen Richardson, it took a couple of years just to put together the evidence needed to help to persuade potential funders that our project out of the many thousands, was one worthy of their support. And when they decided that it was, they usually agreed to give us only a % of what we had requested. That meant putting together another presentation to send to another source of funding. With the support of the project team, John Eastgate, Rachel Barron and John Millard, thankfully this became a team effort.
At the beginning, we’d had an estimate of what a new Hall might cost. Post Brexit, this figure increased, creating a funding gap which needed to be closed. And there was always going to be a sum which would have to be found locally. The reason for our appeal here in The Pump.
On a personal level, taking on the project has left me with no time for hobbies or pastimes. But I do relax. We have family days out. Long walks and bike rides either locally or at Holkham and along the coastal path. I absolutely love Norfolk. Couldn’t think of a better place to live. Very difficult to pick my favourite part because there are so many options, but a favourite day out is a family day out – crabbing in Wells, followed by cycling along the coastal path to Holkham for a cream tea before the ride back to Wells.
Pre-project, I used to love gardening, reading and horse-riding.
And I like to have something to aim for. You could say my current aim to create a legacy for my family and our community is close to being fulfilled. After which my ambition is close to home – to pay attention to our veggie patch, to re-decorate several rooms and, finally to start baking.
Just lately, I’ve been too busy to find time to watch TV in the evenings, but we make a movie night with the children every Saturday. It’s great to switch off and let yourself be completely absorbed in a story. Perhaps that’s why I prefer autobiographies. I find other people’s stories and life journey really fascinating to read about.
Had a conversation about favourite foods with girlfriends recently. Surprising answers. Personally I love lots of different foods, so its difficult to pick an absolute favourite. But the comforting home roast with a special twist is always a winner for me. Now we’re on a family budget, eating out is only a wish – unless we can pay with Tesco vouchers! And we all love Pizza Express.
Best holiday? Hmm – several! For a beach – Maldives. Choice of city – Paris. For the culture – Sri Lanka.
I guess we all have a pet hate. I’m a fairly tolerant person except when it comes to towel folding and placement of said towels in the airing cupboard!
At that – I’d like to finish as I began. If you want things to happen, be willing to help to make them happen. You begin by thinking you are doing something for others, but somewhere along the way, you realise you are doing even more for yourself.
Victoria Gray

Edited, on behalf of the Editor, by Jean Marler

 

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