Jan Godfrey’s lifetime of championing young people in Wayland

PUBLISHED: 16:27 10 June 2014 | UPDATED: 16:27 10 June 2014

Photo of Jan Godfrey. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Photo of Jan Godfrey. Picture: Matthew Usher.

© Archant Norfolk 2014

Jan Godfrey’s tireless work for young people living in the Wayland area is well known and earned her an MBE. But few know why the 75-year-old cares so much and works so hard.

The answer is quite simple: her childhood.

“Wayland has given me a really good life and all I am really trying to do is to pay that back,” she said. “I had such a happy childhood myself, I want other people to have one as well.

“I really want young people to feel they can develop and there are opportunities here.”

The farmer’s daughter, then Jan Addison, was born in Carbrooke the year the Second World War began.

Her father did not have to fight, but because most of the Wayland area did (and was eager to) their small farm was short-handed and the young Miss Addison had to help too.

But instead of tending to the animals, she would instead spend hours engrossed in books, reading at the top of a small hill until her mother would remind her of her duties.

“I ended up spending most of my childhood looking after the farm,” she said. “That’s when I did my reading and developed my love of literature.

“We didn’t see our friends very much, so I used to make things up, imagine things. I loved books, but I loved them even more when I went to Thetford Grammar School.”

And it was in the grammar school days that Mrs Godfrey’s love of literature, education and helping young people collided. So, after University, she went on become a teacher.

Her first and only job was at Wayland Secondary Modern, now Wayland Academy, where she spent 35 years as a history, English and social studies teacher, before becoming head of English and then acting headteacher.

Being in the classroom was something she says she has relished ever since she started school.

And even as a teacher Mrs Godfrey always looked forward to going in every day.

But after the death of Watton teenager Johanna Young, who was a student at the school, Mrs Godfrey said there was a heavy cloud cast over the school, and soon after Mrs Godfrey retired.

However retirement did not mean putting her feet up.

Instead she got her second wind and helped to found the Watton Festival, the Wayland News and her biggest achievement, the Wayland Partnership.

Using European funding, in 1998 Mrs Godfrey helped build the successful partnership which promotes the economic, social, cultural and environmental well-being of the Wayland area.

From workshops for teenagers unsure what career path to take, to the quaint Dragonfly Gallery at the back of Wayland House, where the partnership is based, Mrs Godfrey is still very much a staple in the community.

Now you can find her behind a desk in Wayland House on the High Street most work days – still spearheading her cause – or in her garden at home in Carbrooke with her husband of 50 years, Ken Godfrey.

“I am absolutely so passionate about rural living and helping young people,” Mrs Godfrey said.

“Unless adults work to help that and make them see the potential then young people won’t see it.”

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