Gillian, Abbeyfield Winchester

When I sat down to chat to Gillian about her life I was nervous to say the least. Having spent much of her career working in journalism, and going on to marry a journalist, I knew I had to bring my a-game.

When I sat down to chat to Gillian about her life I was nervous to say the least. Having spent much of her career working in journalism, and going on to marry a journalist, I knew I had to bring my a-game.

As we sat down to chat Gillian instantly put me at ease stating, “I was a secretary to the editor of a newspaper in Glasgow so that I was able to do as much writing as I could but I was never a journalist. You could say I was a secretary with journalistic tendencies.”

Growing up Gillian enjoyed life in the countryside of Scotland living with her twin sister and parents.

At the end of the war, Gillian’s father sent both of his daughters to London to train at one of the UK’s top secretarial colleges. At this time the presence of the war was still visible with soldiers from around the world living and working in London. Gillian’s father asked only one request of his girls on moving to London, that neither married an American soldier for fear his daughters would move far away to America.

It was when Gillian returned to Glasgow and found work at The Glasgow Herald that she met her husband to be.

“He came into my office and asked if I would like to take part in a football sweepstake. Of course I hadn’t the faintest interest in football but I did have an interest in him. Three weeks after we began dating we were engaged.

“The only reason we postponed our wedding was because my father had booked a marvellous trip to South Africa and I wasn’t going to pass that up, not even for my future husband. Three weeks after we returned we were married and moved into a nice flat in Putney overlooking the boat race.”

Together, Gillian and her husband had three children who gave them five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Life at Abbeyfield

Having volunteered for several years with Abbeyfield in Sutton, Gillian had already decided that should she need to move into supported housing, Abbeyfield would be the place for her.

Having damaged her foot very badly Gillian first came to Abbeyfield for respite and when she wasn’t able to live alone any longer she moved in permanently. 

“I was living at the top of a hill and wasn’t able to drive and thought why am I doing this? I looked at two Abbeyfield houses and decided very quickly that Thornton House was just perfect.

“I’ve lived here for nearly three years now. It felt like home immediately, it’s extraordinary. Everyone was so welcoming when I moved in and living here brought me back to my childhood. I grew up in rural area 18 miles from Glasgow and now my flat looks over the vast gardens and out to the countryside. Looking out the window I feel like I’ve come home.”

Today you can find Gillian taking part in many a game of bridge having played since she was a young girl. And on Saturday evenings Gillian hosts a film night with fellow residents. From surveying the DVDs in Gillian’s cabinet it seems the residents enjoy a great variety of films.

On leaving I had one more question for Gillian, what time does the film start and who’s bringing the popcorn?!

Read more real stories from Abbeyfield

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