Birds of a Feather

Jean Lee (left), nee Taylor and Joan Kane (nee Robson) at Royal Bank Road, Blackpool. (old school friends).
Jean Lee (left), nee Taylor and Joan Kane (nee Robson) at Royal Bank Road, Blackpool. (old school friends).
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A school photo taken nearly 60 years ago in July 1954 shows two friends, Jean Lee, nee Taylor, and Joan Kane, nee Robson, who, thanks to their love of operatics and music, have remained in touch most of that time.

They did lose touch for some time after leaving the old Palatine school, at 16, and started on their different career paths. But then, around 1975, Jean joined Marton Operatic Society and the two women were reunited.

Both recognised each other despite it being around 20 years later, although they had bumped into each other now and again around Blackpool over the years.

Jean, now 72, went on to work as a secretary for ICI after leaving school.

She said: “For about the first 18 months after leaving school I went to work as an office clerk or junior at the Co-Op Funeral and Weddings Parlour, when it was based on Charnley Road, in Blackpool.

“Then I got the job as a secretary at ICI and stayed there for the rest of my working life. I enjoyed it and it was a good company to work for.

“I went to Marton Operatic Society in about 1975, which is where I met up with Joan again.

“I had always enjoyed music, playing the piano and, although I didn’t do a lot of singing in my youth, when I was about 17, I started accompanying on the piano at Thornton Cleveleys Youth Theatre.

“It was nice to see Joan again and then I found out she was in Blackpool and the Fylde Operatic Society, which I joined, so we have kept in touch.

“It’s interesting we were standing next to each other on the school photo. And also on the photo – this part is only a small section of it – was the comedian Lenny Bennett and a lady from our class who went on to star on TV called Louise Dunn.

“Joan and I recognised each other as soon as we saw each other.”

Joan, of Marton, worked with the health authority on leaving school as a short-hand typist, at the old medical centre on Whitegate Drive.

The 72-year-old said: “Palatine was quite a technical college. We did practical subjects, which stood us in good stead. I brought my young children up, then went back to work for the hospital for about 30 years, working in medical records. I really enjoyed it. I stayed there until I was 68.”

Joan, who has a son, a daughter and three grandchildren, said: “Jean and I had bumped into each other now and again as Blackpool isn’t a big place, but we didn’t really see each other until we joined Marton Operatics.

“I liked singing, but it was probably only about in my 30s I took it up.

“I like being part of the society for the social side, as well as the music and productions. There are people of all ages, from different backgrounds, and it’s a good mix. It’s nice to socialise with people of different ages, it does keep you on your toes.”

The ladies are now looking forward to performing in a Rodgers and Hammerstein concert with Blackpool and Fylde Light Opera Company, starting tomorrow and running until Saturday at the Lowther Pavilion, Lytham. The show will feature a 15-piece orchestra and include hits from Oklahoma and the King and I.

Tickets from £5. Call the box office on (01253) 794221 or, for general enquiries, call 0781 501 0113.