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Listening to Sussex’s Special Collections – 22.01.2021

Pickett UTK001-50: (Part 1) Joan Pickett talks to Al Thomson about the decision to go to AustraliaUTK001/50-52

Al Thomson: So tell me about the lead up to going to Australia. How did that come about? Joan Pickett: Well, as I was saying, I worked in St. Mary’s Hospital. And when my friend, Jean, she was called, she was another secretary. And it really happened by accident. We used to go, as I say, to town cinema, and we went to town cinema, and it was in in the middle of a dark cold winter 1959 1960. And we just happened to go to the cinema in Manchester, one dark winter’s afternoon. I don’t remember what the main feature was. But there was a documentary on Princess Alexandra, who was doing the tour of Australia at the time. And it looked wonderful, you know, she went around all at all the areas of Australia. And we were sort of sitting watching this, and we came out in the middle of Manchester. It was cold, and it was raining in the middle of winter. And we just sort of stood in the middle of Piccadilly waiting for the bus to come home. So I said to Jean, shall we go to Australia? Oh, all right. She says, honestly, it really started as a joke. Because at that time, there’s a lot of publicity about the 10 pound assisted passage, which of course we’d seen in the local paper. I never thought about it. But it was the coincidence of things. And I just said, ‘shall we?’ and she said, alright. So it was really to wile away the hours through the winter. We sent for all the information, because there was an Australia office in Manchester, I think it was in Albert Square. And we sent for all the information. And of course, we filled out the forms. And then they sent for us for interview, we went now to Manchester, we were interviewed by this young man.

Pickett UTK001-50: (Part 1) Joan Pickett talks to Al Thomson about the decision to go to AustraliaUTK001/50-52

And we told them at work as a joke, you know, said ‘oh, by the way, Jean and I are going to Australia’, and it sort of at a snowballed from there. We went down for interview and we filled in all these questions. And they said ‘now, now you’re exactly what we’re looking for, this is what we want:young unattached ladies to go out to Australia’. And this gentleman said, the conditions were that you had to go for two years. And if you came back you had to refund the fare, obviously. So he said, ‘now we know that you young folk, half the time, you’re just going out for two year holiday’, which is quite true!But he said ‘we’re prepared to take the risk. I think you’ll like Australia, and you won’t come back’. But he said if you do fair enough, but he said we’re prepared to take the risk. So we had our medicals and had our injections and everything. And the people at work got the idea we were going to Australia. And at that time there again, we had a lot of local Australian doctors over doing their six months training in gynaecology and of course they all came over saying ‘I believe you’re going to Australia. Well, you know, when you go, would you go and see my mother, and she lives in Adelaide’, and they gave us all these addresses. So one thing just led to the other and within six months the letter came through the post, saying, you know, that a passage has been arranged. And that was that was it. We were booked on the Oronsay to go out to Australia.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai