RETIRED teacher Lynn Ashworth is helping people young and old to take their own strolls down Memory Lane.
Having left her middle-management teaching post due to ill health in 1998, she admits she fretted about how she would survive on her teachers’ pension and, equally importantly, how to fill her days usefully.
Lynn says: “October 2003 marked my brother’s 40th birthday. I wrote a poem – of which I’m still proud – charting the main events of 1963, and which I nervously read out at his surprise party.
“The source of my material, from Christine Keeler to JFK, was The Chronicle of the 20th Century, an impressive tome which has always had pride of place on my bookshelf.
“The 48-line epic, typed on the PC, illustrated and framed, was well received. Two guests were keen to commission something on the same lines for different years. So an idea was formed and, although I gave up writing poetry, I started to research and compile facts on the years from 1950 onwards.”
Lynn admits: “I’ve always been fascinated by newsreels of the past, particularly the 60s, formative years for me. I attended local craft fairs and was pleased people were happy to pay a modest sum for a sheet of information on their special year. Importantly, I was breaking even and meeting lots of interesting folk.”
Soon Lynn was venturing further afield across the North West taking orders for personalised dedications, which involved photos of the subject, personal details and smart, but inexpensive frames.
This led to creating dedications to pets, and she began attending dog, cat and horse shows, and also car shows.
Lynn says: “People I met seemed genuinely interested in my career change so, using my skills as a teacher, I got onto the public speaking circuit in 2007.
“I’ve found most audiences receptive and it has proved a good showcase for my frames. I’ve been welcomed by the WI, Mothers’ Union, Probus and retirement groups, BLESMA and luncheon and supper clubs.
Last year she was contacted by the activities co-ordinator at Fleetwood Hall care home, who was looking for a new face to entertain her residents and, since then has visited many homes across the Fylde coast, most recently the Farthings Nursing Home.
She says: “Music is always a great memory jerker, particularly Telstar, I think. I often play that piece of music by The Tornadoes when I entertain in the care homes. Everyone seems to remember it. It was very popular on fairground rides. As soon as it comes on I’m back on that Waltzer shouting ‘Spin us!’.”
So what of today’s date – November 22 – which figures in her poem?
Lynn says: “I grew up in the 60s and feel deeply nostalgic when I look at old footage, including family cine films. The death of JFK, on November 22, 1963 is without doubt my earliest big news story memory – I was just 10. It still gives me goose bumps and I can recall exactly where I was at the moment the news came over by satellite.”
n You can find out more about Lynn’s services by visiting her website at www.lifestimes.co.uk
n Excuse the indulgence, but November 22 is also a memorable date in the Fleming household – our daughter Steph was born 27 years ago today! And, according to Lynn’s research in 1984 Nigel Lawson announced the imminent demise of the pound note and the years’s top-selling single was Relax (Frankie Goes To Hollywood).
Part of Lynn’s dedication to 1960s
We had the heartbreak of Thalidomide and tragedy in Aberfan, sabre-rattling on every side, from Cuba to Vietnam.
The Wall in Berlin stood defiant and proud and the racists continued to scheme
As one brave man faced a Washington crowd and told them “I have a dream....”
The words of “She Loves You” filled every schoolgirl’s head
Then a shot rang out in Dallas...and a President was dead...