Saturday, 7 May 2016
Life with polio and a career as a TV and Radio presenter.
Tod U3A, with speaker Jane Shepherd
How lucky we were at Todmorden U3A on 21st April. In March we were heartened and inspired by Penny Dean; this month Jane Shepherd came to give us an equally inspiriting talk about her life with polio and her career as a TV and Radio presenter.
Born in 'occupied Lancashire' in 1953, Jane contracted polio as a baby and spent five months in hospital. Her parents were told by a gloomy ward sister, 'If she survives, she'll only be a cabbage', and the hospital noted with pessimistic surprise that 'The parents are willing to have her home.'
In spite of receiving cheerful advice such as 'Take her home, but don't feed her', Jane's parents, especially her mother, were determined Jane would lead a normal life. Jane's brother had osteomyelitis, and any attempts by Jane to avoid school were met by reminders that her brother was worse off than she was.
Jane also paid tribute to her schoolfriend, Karen, who made her walk in the playground. And when Billy Jobson called Jane 'Pegleg', Jane's mother told her to call him something better back and if that failed, then 'whack him on the shins with your calliper.' The calliper did the trick. Jane also paid tribute to her secondary school that went out of its way to tweak the timetable to make the school day easier for her.
When she started work, Jane was a medical secretary, but soon started training as a social worker at Manchester University. When that didn't work out, she temped with BBC Manchester, became a researcher, did a screen test and began presenting for daytime TV. If I remember rightly, this led to a career with 'Good Morning with Ann and Nick', Radios 2, 3, 4 and 5, the World Service and Granada News.
Jane's presentational style was very entertainingly anecdotal. She once booked Bernard Manning for a Radio 5 interview, and she secured his agreement that he would moderate his usual vocabulary. It didn't stop him saying to her on meeting her, 'Well, that diet's not working, is it?' At least he had the courtesy to add, 'Like mine.'
Peter Stringfellow walked into the studio one day and was clearly taken aback by Jane who is generously proportioned. She set him at ease by saying 'I expect you've seen it all before, but not in such quantities.'
When interviewing elderly Girl Guiders, Jane revealed she had been a Brownie. 'Oh, we knew you were a Brownie,' said the plum-mouthed ladies, 'from the way you asked the questions.'
Now Jane spends her time sitting on tribunals that deal with disability disputes in Rochdale and Stockport. Certainly there are some cunning fraudsters out there, but, Jane estimates, only about 1% of the people she comes across. We would be surprised if any get past her.
She also enjoys role play and there can't be many women who can say in all innocence that they've spent the day in a hotel bedroom with two men and a video camera.
Jane was a very engaging personality, blessed with a wonderfully rich sense of humour and glorious celebratory attitude to life. We have been very lucky to have her speak to us in Todmorden.
Our next meeting is on Thursday, May 19th in The Central Methodist Church in Todmorden, when our speaker will be Gill Russell whose talk is titled 'Stranger in a Strange Land'.
Many thanks to Anthony Peter for this report
Previous U3A reports on the HebWeb
HebWeb News:Small in a Tall Person's World with speakers Hamish Willis and Penny Dean OBE (31 March 2016)
HebWeb News:In the Footsteps of Norbert Carteret (22 February 2016)
HebWeb News:Gallivanting on Public Transport - a Bus Pass from Berwick to Land's End (30 September 2015)
HebWeb News: Magna Carta - A (Mostly) Light-hearted look at 800 Years of History (1 September 2015)
HebWeb News: Summat a' Nowt - talk by Steve Murty (28 April 2015)
HebWeb News: My Convict Ancestors (12 April 2015)
HebWeb News: Aquaponics Lab - A Radical Solution (16 January 2015)
HebWeb News: British Professional Cycling – Tykes and Le Tour de France (11 December 2014)
HebWeb News: Life in La Serenissima, Venice - Kathryn Ogden (9 July 2014)
HebWeb News: University of the Third Age: The Machine that Changed the World (25 February 2014)
HebWeb News: University of the Third Age: Music and the Deaf (12 February 2014)
HebWeb News: University of the Third Age: Psychology and You - Part Two David Groves made a welcome return as a speaker at the October Todmorden U3A (26 October 2013)
HebWeb News: Hebden Bridge Little Theatre, A Short History was recounted by Ray Riches to the University of the Third Age. (28 Aug 2013)
HebWeb News: John Sheard, retired land agent to the Duke of Devonshire, gave his third talk to members of the U3A, this time on Sir Joseph Paxton, Knighted Gardener (26 July 2013)
HebWeb News: Off Stage Choices: Andrew Rawlinson recounts his theatre experience from Tod Operatic to General Manager of a leading Theatre Group. (18 July 2013)
HebWeb News: The Story of the Hebden Bridge Calendar (April 2013)
HebWeb News: Changing Times in the Press (March 2013)
HebWeb News: Cancer from Both Sides (Nov 2012)
HebWeb News: Steve Halliwell outlined the history of the Woodland Trust (Sept 2012)
HebWeb News: Ray Riches talks on Walking the Pacific Crest Trail (Aug 2012)
HebWeb News: Pitch and Pythagoras - Pulse and Prison (July 2012)
HebWeb News - Lord Shutt explains the workings of the House of Lords (May 2012)
HebWeb News - Claire Benedict talks acting to Todmorden U3A (April 2012)
HebWeb News - Kate Moreton-Deakin spoke about her day job as Associate Director - Corporate Social Responsibility with Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust. (Feb 2012)
HebWeb News - Fair Trade Movement (Feb 2012)
HebWeb News - Fancy a cruise to the Antarctic? (Feb 2012)
HebWeb News - Gail Allaby, U3A's Queen of the Underworld (Dec 2011)
HebWeb News - September meeting report - Report of meeting about Walking the Pacific Crest Trail
HebWeb News - August meeting report - Bolton Abbey
HebWeb News - May and June meeting report - Keep Learning: Live long and prosper and the role of the Lord-Lieutenant
HebWeb News - April meeting report - Belt and Braces - An Everyday Guide to Risk and Chance
HebWeb News - March meeting report - Growing Old in the Twenty-First Century