Jean Wilks nee Toole lived in the centre of Manchester with her mother and father before she was evacuated. They lived in a terraced house in Collyhurst with a back yard and outside toilet. She remembers the community there as a very friendly mix of people. She was five when she was evacuated and had just started to go to Abbot Street School.
She can’t remember being prepared for evacuation, rather she was taken to the station from school with her fellow pupils, and her mum was there too. It was only when they got to Leek Station that she realised they weren’t going back that day. You can hear her talking about the billeting process by clicking on the link below:
Jean’s first billet was nice, but she couldn’t settle and her mum took her home. They later found out she was coming down with chicken pox. After returning to Manchester she then went back to Leek again aged 6 and was billeted with Mr. and Mrs Keasey who ran a sweet shop in Stockwell Street. Jean was happy with the Keaseys, who were very nice to her, and she had her own bedroom. On Sundays Mr and Mrs Keasey would take her for a walk in the woods to see the bluebells. You can listen to Jean talking about helping in the sweet shop by clicking on the following link:
She went to St. Luke’s church school and had to have cod liver oil and malt every morning. A lot of her friends from Abbot Street attended the same school, and she made friends with anybody who was around. She can remember going home for good in 1943 and most of the other children billeted from her school also started to trickle back around this time. She has no unhappy memories of Leek, and will always remember the time she spent there.