On 9th November Retford Ladies Probus Club members attended their Annual Luncheon at Ye Olde Bell Hotel where, after an enjoyable meal they were entertained by harpist Lucy Nolan.
Then in December they enjoyed a ‘Festive Fun’ meeting, when members participated in a quiz, followed by entertainment from Retford U3A recorder group.
President Judith Goodall welcomed everyone to the first meeting of 2023, introducing the speaker who was none other than the group’s very own Dawn Cragg MBE. Her amusing title ‘I couldn’t have made it up (Or it might not have dawned on you)’ became all too obvious as she took members on a romp through her illustrious life!
A huge list of Dawn’s career moves include au pair in Paris, bingo caller, knife-throwing act assistant, lookalikes, impersonator (Beryl Reid, Hilda Baker). In the 1950s she worked at Timothy Whites in Margate selling Twink perms. Always looking to earn extra money, she offered to apply the perms but wanted supper thrown in as well – to which they agreed.
The BBC makeup department had an amazing course; to get on it you had to have City and Guilds hairdressing, but she says she showed them what she could do and they gave her a chance. The International Telephone Exchange was her next venture where she was often party to some risqué conversations! Nipple tattoo artist in an Edinburgh brothel was not one of her favourite experiences but it meant the girls got paid more and most of them were out of work make-up artists themselves.
In the 1960s she opened a beauty school in the Far East and in later years the Park School of Beauty here in Retford. Her most rewarding achievement has probably been as a medical tattoo and camouflage artist for which she was awarded an MBE. Here she has helped people face the world again after disfigurement due to illness, accident or birth defects.
What a colourful and interesting life lived by a mainly self-taught woman. It seems she has hardly stopped for breath.
The next meeting, on Wednesday 8th February, will see David Ingleby speaking about the Commonwealth War Games Commission.
The group meets in Westhill Community Centre, Ordsall, 10.00am for 10.30am start – and they are always delighted to welcome new members.