It was an immense privilege this week to interview Judith Francis. Judith was born in Radnorshire in 1935 and we talk about various Church or Sunday School trips she remembers making as a child and about the different modes of communication that existed compared to today.
Judith has snapshots of the past and relays some of her childhood memories, including her time as an evacuee during the Second World War. Judith talks about her experience of air raid shelters and how she was petrified when she had to put on a gas mask. We talk about phobias and what it was like to be an evacuee from Newport to Pembrokeshire and how happy she was living by the seaside where she made friends with other evacuees.
Judith discusses how as a child she would make her own entertainment, using her imagination and playing war games. We learn about her experience of growing up during the Second World War and about the horrendous experience of witnessing two RAF men being washed up on the beach.
There was no electricity where she lived until 1947, so she would listen to battery-operated radios, and Judith shares her memories of listening to a show which was broadcast each day from different canteens called ‘Workers’ Play Time’. She also recalls writing to the comedian Tommy Handley and receiving a signed photograph.
Judith worked for the civil service for a number of years and she reveals what prompted her to learn Welsh and why she trained to be a teacher in the mid-1970s. She ended up becoming a lay reader, and later did a degree in Theology & Religious Studies, and we talk about the relationship between having a faith and studying religion. We also discuss the difference between being a student in the 1970s, when students received grants, and the change of culture 25 years later.
We also talk about the political heat around Welsh nationalism in the 1970s and how students 25 years later didn’t seem to be interested in politics. And, in the final part of the interview, we discover whether Judith is a looking back or a looking forward type of person.
Please note: Opinions expressed are solely those of Chris Deacy and Judith Francis and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the University of Kent.