June 19 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Doris Vallance, 93, lives in Auriel Avenue, Dagenham. She received the prestigious Labour Party Merit Award for 40 years of dedication and hard work for the party and for the community.
I was born in Stepney, then moved to Whitechapel. I met my husband, Leonard, in 1935. We married and I moved to Wood Lane in Dagenham during the war in 1942.
We had nothing when we first married. I’m proud to think I have got to where I have. It’s been hard work and I did it all by myself. I was alone with the children for six years during the war because my husband was in the war. It was flipping hard.
I never knew I was going to live to this age – I’m 93. I have always been very active.
What aggravates me is that I can’t do what I used to do.
We’ve always been Labour but I just fell in with the club – the forum for the elderly – and from there it just happened.
I’m also a member of the British Legion, Community Links and the neighbourhood partnership. I used to go to all the meetings. I have got to know what’s going to happen to people.
I joined the party 40 years ago. The only time I missed a meeting was when I was in hospital.
We used to go up on the marches for the pensions when Thatcher was in power.
When I retired in 1983, the pension was only £79.
I also fought for the mobility bus that takes elderly people to Asda, Tesco and to Romford once a week. It stops outside my house. That’s one thing I’m really proud of. It took me four years of mentioning it at Labour Party meetings and to Transport for London.
All I can do now is to stuff thousands of leaflets and calendars into envelopes.
When I went to the Labour Party meeting last month and they called my name out to give me the award, I was not expecting it.
I was shaking like a leaf. As soon as they called my name I could not keep a limb still.
I did not do this because I wanted something in return. Every job I have done, I have always worked hard.
My favourite job was as dinner lady at John Perry School.
I also worked for six years at Ford Road School, eight years at May and Baker, then I worked in shops for five-and-a-half years.
I taught the children at John Perry to sing ‘I’m a poor little sparrow’ and the head teacher, Ms Argent, taped it.
I love Dagenham because it gave me everything I did not have as a child – a house, a bath, an indoor toilet, a garden. Young people today have to get to the top straight away. But you have got to start at the bottom.
I never saw money until I went to work at the age of 14.
To me my house is my palace. People nowadays don’t know what poverty means. We had nothing.
I used the drawer as a bed for my daughter when she was a baby.
My wardrobe was an orange box. We used to go to the soup kitchen, or go to church to see what they what they were going to give you. Those were rough times.
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