Ann Hessey (Miss Medway)

Ann Hessey worked at the Nautical College from 1957-62. Recently she was elected an Honorary OP. As part of that process she wrote the following account of her time at the school:


“I started work at the College in July 1957. I was just coming up to my 18th birthday. The post hadnt been advertised as my predecessor – Mrs. Sheila Carter – had only been in the post a few months when she found she was pregnant and there was an outbreak of German measles. It was advertised over a garden fence. I said I was looking for a job and the next thing I knew Mr. Harris the Bursar came down in his car took me up to his office gave me an interview showed me around and then I was in the post.


My duties initially were to do work for the Bursar – typing and filing and also work for the E.O. which was Lt. Cdr. R Hoyle. I also had to help out with the post and also operate the switchboard.  After a few weeks in the job I found I was doing typing for anyone who wanted typing done - Director of Studies Mr. Topliss, all the masters and the instructors – especially Mr. Sewell who was quite handy with his Red and Blue Pencil. He would underline anything he thought of importance. 


I also did work for the Catering Officer and Stitch. I had to help out Mr. Rumsey when he did his Shop twice a week. Some of the cadets used to take delight in making me blush when they purchased certain items of sporting equipment.


At the end of term envelopes had to be distributed to forms for Cadets to write their home address ready for bills and reports to be sent. Also copies of reports had to be typed out as at the time we didnt have a photo copier. Miss Vincent the Capt Superintendents Secretary did all the ones going to the Admiralty and I did the rest.


For boys who had left, their folder had to be numbered and also details entered on a card index which was kept in the office. The old files were stored in a big cupboard in my office. New files had to be got ready for the new entrants.


When Captain Lewis arrived things changed for the better.  The switchboard was moved from the far side of the office to be near my desk and also a photo copier was purchased which was kept in the Bursar’s Office. This meant the reports could be photo copied instead of having to type them out. It also meant the Masters had to write in black ink and reminded to do so as early photo copiers would not copy any other colour.


Later on I took responsibility for setting the wheels in motion for the “SCHOOL LIST” for each term. A list of dates would be taken to the Masters Common Room at the start of term for them to put down fixtures, etc., ready for it to go off to the printers at the end of each term ready for the next term. Then coaches had to be booked for away fixtures and anything that needed transport. I seem to remember a lot of work was entailed for Trafalgar Day – October 21st and the visit to St. Pauls’.


I also seem to remember that we had a spirit-operated printing machine in the office.  For this one had to type on two top copies and a carbon copy using the typewriter without the ribbon so that it would cut into the top copy and come out in reverse on the printing side – it was very difficult to do alterations as everything was back to front as it were.


I also remember putting Mr. Stewart in touch with a Band in Reading when the band, booked for the end of term, had cancelled. I used to have Clarinet lessons with a member of the same band in Reading. I remember he was very grateful.


My last big job was to type out from the Card Index in the office all the names and addresses for the “REGISTER OF OLD PANGBOURNIANS” to March 1963. I did this for Harry Sykes – it was a very big job – and was fitted in between my other work.


Towards the end of 1962 I became friendly with the Bank Manager’s daughter and he persuaded me to go and work as a Shorthand Typist at Lloyds Bank.  BIG MISTAKE – I hated it but stuck it out for a year.  A lot of bullying went on and many of the girls working there could be found in tears in the cloakroom.   Having worked in an all-male environment for five years I was used to sticking up for myself.


I later left the Bank and went to work in Reading when my parents left Pangbourne.  I did agency work for a bit, then joined Reading Borough Council in the Health Department and later transferred to the Police Department where I worked as a Clerk/Typist. I met my husband through the Police – he was a Sergeant at the time.  We met in 1966, married in 1967 and in 1973 he became a Superintendent and we were transferred up to Aylesbury where we stayed for 10 years. During that time I was a stay-at-home Mum. We had 48 happy years together but sadly the last 12 years of his life he had Parkinson’s disease and I was his sole carer. It was a reversal of roles which I found hard. He passed away in June 2015.


I met up with Mike Matthews (54-59) when he moved to Brockenhurst with Delphine. At the time I was Secretary of our local walking group. We have remained good friends and they have been very supportive. I have also met up with Jenny and Simon Dyer (55-58) who live at Sway. Jenny is a W.I. member as I am.


I am on the College photo of 1959. My nephew Andrew Medway was a weekly boarder in the late 90′s.”!


Over the years I have kept in touch with various members of Staff, Mr. Harris, Mary Richardson who was for a time Sister i/c Sick Bay, Ellen Rands, Bob and Dora Knights and Steve. Sadly, all have gone apart from Steve who I keep in touch with on a fairly regular basis.


I often used to read in the Old Pangbournian Magazine – Pangbourne Made Me – and I can say it made me.  It was the best job I ever had. It enabled a village country girl who hadnt been anywhere to open her eyes to a great big world waiting to be discovered and it has enabled me to talk to anyone without feeling inhibited in any way. I feel very proud to have worked at the College, and I will be even more proud and honoured if I become an Hon. O.P.”