Vera was born in London before moving to Margate with her mother, father and older sister June upon advice from her father’s doctor that he needed some fresh air. Unfortunately, soon after moving and working to open a shop together, her father died from his illness and the three girls were left alone to run the business.
June and Vera went to school in Ramsgate, and went there every day on the train from Margate. Vera can remember the day when they were told to leave the school and go home on the train immediately. That day was the evacuation of Dunkirk and she remembers the wounded soldiers coming in and out on the trains throwing coins to the children. A few days later the two sisters made their way back to the station again after saying goodbye to their mother, when they were then evacuated to Stafford.
Siblings were supposed to stay together, but June had made up her mind that she wanted to be billeted with her friend, and that Vera could live with her friend Pansy. So, when they got there, they were split up and Vera was sad to be living by herself on Coronation Street with a couple who had clearly been waiting for a much younger child than Vera’s 11 years. Incidentally, Pansy was billeted up the road, not in the same house, and when Vera’s mother got word that her two daughters weren’t living together, she had that matter rectified straight away by one of the school teachers.
After being reunited, Vera and June went to live in Kingston Avenue with the Kennards and their two children. They weren’t very happy here, but were moved on again after a year to live with the Wallis family on top of the hill on Cannock Road. The Kennards were an elderly couple with no children of their own, and here they learnt all about taking care of themselves (including doing their own washing which they had never done before), growing their own vegetables and going to church. It was under Mr. and Mrs Kennard’s care that they were Confirmed and where Vera gained her faith; she still attends church regularly to this day.
Vera’s mother sent them regular food parcels full of sweets and her famous bread pudding, and they visited home often. You can hear her speaking about how she thinks her mother must have felt during this time by clicking on the play button below:
After June had gone onto Sheffield University, one of Vera’s classmates from Stafford came to live with her at the Kennards, and the two of them cycled all the way from Stafford to Margate stopping at youth hostels and hitching on the back of lorries to avoid the hills.