Jean Diplock retired recently after working at Abbeyfield Cadogan Gardens in Tunbridge Wells for 50 years. We held a party to celebrate her achievement and to thank her for her many years of commitment.
As a long-standing employee, Jean had worked at our Cadodgan Gardens house since 1969. She’s seen many developments over the years, both in the working world and in Abbeyfield itself. We spoke to Jean to see how things have changed.
What was your job when you first started work?
I left school at 15 years old, and worked in a dress shop called Gees situated between the Kosmos Cinema and Kibby’s Wine Shop in Calverley Road, Tunbridge Wells. After a year I went on to work for Dust & Co, a women’s clothing shop on the Pantiles. I had 15 happy years there, and left to have my family; I have 2 children, a son and daughter.
Once the children were at school I started work at St James’ School as a dinner lady – I retired earlier this year after 50 years’ of service there too!
How did you get started at Abbeyfield Tunbridge Wells?
My Mother had been the cleaner at Abbeyfield, and when she retired I took up the job. This involved cleaning all the public areas at the Cadodgan Gardens house.
I would also carry out the relief duties, and sleepover when the housekeeper took annual leave.
What was the Abbeyfield house like in 1969? How has it changed over the years?
Well to start with it was only the number 5 house. Then some years later, the residents were moved out to live in a local hotel while extensive works were carried out to include numbers 3 and 7, making one lovely large house.
I remember a beautiful green tile and marble-topped mantelpiece, it’s gone now but would be in the current dining room!
David Emler’s Father lived in a downstairs room here; David went on to become Chairman and served for 12 years. He still visits weekly as a volunteer to chat with the residents.
How have things changed for the residents?
Well, of course, I’ve seen lots of changes over the years. Now we have the addition of breakfast provisions, the breakfast bar, daily fresh fruit, parties for birthdays and other celebrations, outings and music. There’s so much on offer.
What has been the best thing about working at Abbeyfield? What will you miss most?
The best thing about working for Abbeyfield has been meeting and befriending the residents and staff over the years. I think I’ll miss going out and the contact with people, but I have so many happy memories.
After 50 busy years, what are your plans for retirement?
Abbeyfield has been so much a part of my life, but I still enjoy walking, reading and gardening – weather permitting! I also hope that they will let me come back to visit now and again!!
Our thanks once again go to Jean for her many years of service and wish her the very best for a restful retirement.