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Resident Doris from Highcliffe Nursing Home shares her incredible life story

highcliffe Doris

“My amazing Mother.

It’s a life story that has seen all the drama and romance of a Hollywood film.

Now aged 94, Doris Yeandle’s daughter has helped her piece it all together for the #DonateYourWords campaign by Age UK and Cadbury.

Doris was born Doris Jannaway on 7th January 1926 at Queen Charlotte's Hospital, Marylebone Road, Hammersmith. She was an only child born to Lucy and Hugh Emest Jannaway.

She has memories of growing up living in London police stations as her father was a superintendent in the Metropolitan Police.

She recalls climbing over the roof of the Arbour Street Police Station and being able to look into the magistrate's court room and face the judge.

And in the 1930s when the Mosley Black Shirts attacked the police station she remembers how she and her mother hid under the table.

Unhappily, she contracted scarlet fever when she was about nine or years of age and her lovely, long hair had to be cut off. She spent time in an isolation hospital and still complains that her hair was never the same again.

Aged 13, Doris was evacuated to Somerset where she was unhappy living with the family with whom she had been placed. Her father arranged a transfer to a family in Willingham, Cambridgeshire and they became life-long friends.

It was a dairy farm and she enjoyed helping make butter pats and riding on the cart to make deliveries around the village. 

On retuming to London her father was keen for Doris to become a secretary and she was sent to Pitman’s Typists Training College, but she really wanted to be a nurse.

Once she had passed her typing exams, a determined Doris was able to persuade her father to allow her to train as a nurse at the Dreadnought Seamen's Hospital in Greenwich.

Memories from that time include her returning to the nursing home where she lived, walking through the Rotherhithe tunnel under the River Thames during air raids.

During the war years, services personnel, including nurses, were entitled to free cigarettes and Doris joined in smoking with her friends. On one occasion she went with them to the Prospect of Whitby Pub in Wapping – unfortunately for her, her father led a raid on the pub and, once again, she had to hide under a table.

In 1945 a navy sailor had arrived on her ward at the hospital. He was injured and suffering from exposure and lack of nutrition. His ship had been torpedoed and he had spent seven days in a lifeboat off the coast of Africa.

His name was Peter Thomas Yeandle and he was nursed by Doris. After his stay in hospital he asked if he could write to her and four years of correspondence began, sent by him from all around the world.

Doris met up with Peter when he returned for short stints at home. She complained that she always ended up eating egg and chips at the Angel, Islington because he had spent all his money on his other girlfriends.

Nevertheless, on 20th December 1949, Peter and Doris were married at All Saints Church, Highams Park. They honeymooned at Farringford, on the Isle of Wight, staying in the original home of poet Lord Tennyson.

Wives had to “work their passage” and Doris and her friend Pat were given the task of painting parts of the ship sides. They were lowered over the ship side on a board held in place by strong rope! After their honeymoon, Peter was commissioned to go to Hong Kong for three years. Doris sailed out with him and proved to be a good sailor. She described the terrible storms when the trunks moved from side to side across their cabin.

In Hong Kong, Doris lived in a hostel while Peter was at sea. She remembers the water shortage, the rats scrabbling in the wardrobe and the difficulty of obtaining food. It was not customary for women to eat out alone and caused a daily problem.

As Peter had a three year contract Doris wanted to work as a nurse. She nursed a leper and later a man with mental problems who escaped from his room.

highcliffe doris1

When she became pregnant, Peter left his commission and they travelled back to England where Doris gave birth to daughter Janet Vanessa.

The family lived with Doris's parents in Chingford until they moved into their own home in Highams Park in 1953.

When Janet started school Doris returned to nursing as a staff nurse at Connaught Hospital in Walthamstow and later at Chingford Hospital. Once Janet was older she re-trained as a health visitor and completed her career as a nursing officer.

She was committed to her tasks and was responsible for setting up toy libraries for mothers and toddlers in the local tower blocks.

In retirement, Doris and Peter travelled extensively and they moved to Highcliffe to be near the sea.

Doris played an active role in community life, working in the Citizen’s Advice Service for 10 years and doing voluntary work at Royal Bournemouth Hospital.

She walked daily, joined needlework and quilting classes, also a yoga class. Doris could still do a head stand aged 90.

Doris moved into Highcliffe Nursing Home in May 2019, joining Peter there. She continues to enjoy active participation in whatever is going on.

She has even offered to do a couple of night duties if required!”


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