Helen Acton, aged 92, was born in London in 1923 before moving to Ufford in Suffolk when she was five.
“I got the bus to Ipswich High School while my two brothers went to Woodbridge School. I was very good at sports, I was on the school tennis, hockey and netball teams. I was good at languages too, especially German and French.
“After school I went to be a typist in London, but I remember a colleague said I was ‘too good to just be a typist’. That’s when I got the very exciting opportunity to work as a bilingual secretary for the United Nations. I lived in New York for a while before moving to Geneva, where I was offered the position of secretary to the UN Assistant Secretary-General. It was a wonderful opportunity – my office looked out over Mont Blanc! I lived with two Dutch girls and we went skiing and mountain climbing together on the weekends.”
Life at Care UK’s Mills Meadow
Now living at Mills Meadow care home in Framlingham, Helen still likes to keep active and enjoys taking part in Oomph exercises which involve pom-poms and ribbons to improve physical mobility and mental stimulation. Helen also enjoys lunch out with friends, doing the crossword in the local newspaper and joining in the home’s regular trips out.
“I like to get out and about and enjoy the fresh air! A group of us went to Southwold last month and had an ice-cream on the pier. I love Southwold – it’s where my husband Geoffrey and I spent our honeymoon many years ago.”
Helen has two adopted children – Philip who is currently travelling in Peru and Jane who lives in London.
“My daughter Jane visits regularly and I can speak to Philip on Skype – he’s having a wonderful time travelling and seeing the world.”
What have you learned over the last 90 years?
“Well the one thing I have learned is not to give advice as it’s often wrong! And it’s important to think of others before yourself.”
How do your experiences compare with the Queen’s?
“We’ve both spent a lot of time travelling around and we both still keep busy. The Queen uplifts people’s lives and spreads happiness wherever she visits.”