Wyn Walker

Wyn Walker
Wyn Walker
Share this article
Have your say

Jacintha Winnifred Walker, known as Wyn, who was a popular local shopkeeper and served with the St John Ambulance for over 60 years, has died at the age of 95.

An only child, her parents ran a general store and post office that served three nearby villages at Foston on the Wolds near Bridlington.

She began her education at Gembling Primary School before progressing to Bridlington High School.

In 1936 she went to the Yorkshire Secretarial College in Leeds, gaining a diploma. She was subsequently offered a post with Glaxo Laboratories at Driffield which she accepted, remaining with them for the next seven years.

It was there that she met Birmingham-born George Walker, the head of the laboratory and chief analyst, who was to become her husband. The couple married in 1941.

Her real desire had been nursing, not least as her two best friends in school had gone to Leeds General Infirmary for training. However her parents were against this idea and so she decided to concentrate on first aid and nursing training in a voluntary capacity with the St John’s Ambulance brigade.

For two years she cycled 12 miles a day to work in Driffield and when war broke out in 1939 continued to do so in blackout conditions. She sometimes left at 9pm, but the salary was good and the work, which she enjoyed, was of national importance.

When the nearby Driffield Aerodrome suffered a bombing raid, killing 14 men and injuring others while destroying all but one hangar, she was summoned for duty to help administer medical aid.

Her mother had bought an attractive bungalow on the outskirts of Driffield to which Wyn and her husband were to live for the next five years. This meant no travelling so Wyn joined the local St John’s nursing division based at the hospital.

When her husband was performing aircraft spotting or fire watch duties, she would do night duty from 10pm to 6am, snatching the occasional hour’s sleep – raids and patients permitting.

In the summer of 1945 she left Glaxo to have the first of two daughters, Lesley. In 1946 her mother decided to retire and Wyn took the business on, running it successfully for the next 33 years. It meant that together she and her mother served the village of Foston on the Wolds as shopkeeper and postmaster for a combined total of 68 years.

She gained promotion in the local St John’s division, becoming its superintendent. In 1974 she was appointed in area superintendent of North Humberside which involved weekly meetings in Hull.

In 1983 she had the honour of being admitted as a Commander of the Order of St John. By the time of her retirement two years later she was acting area commissioner, overseeing 22 divisions.

In 1987 she attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace taking her husband as guest.

She was the last surviving founder member when she left the Driffield Hospital League of Friends in 2002, having joined in 1948 and carried out over half a century of voluntary work with the hospital. She had also served as its chairman and president.

With rationing over and the girls away at school, life was easier and in 1969 her husband retired. Shortly after, however, came the death of her youngest daughter Gail, at the age of 20 – a devastating year.

She served as a school governor for 20 years and was the treasurer of the North Holderness Deanery Mothers Union for 14 years. Always involved with the church, she was on the parochial church council and a member of the Mothers’ Union for 25 years. She was church organist for 38 years and a churchwarden from 1982 to 2002.

She loved the organ and in 1994 when a Macmillan day centre was opened at the hospital by the Duchess of Kent she was asked to play at the service of dedication conducted by the Bishop of Hull.

She retired in 1979, after which she and her husband enjoyed many holidays abroad until his death in 1995. Wyn finally left Foston on the Wolds in 2002, moving to Bingley in West Yorkshire to be near her family.

She is survived by her daughter Lesley, grandson Marcus and granddaughter Liana.