Cllr. James Bartlett
- 28 Shortridge Lane,
- 0116 286 6650
I was born in Belgrave, Leicester, where I lived until 1934, when I was 2½ years of age. Then we moved to Braunstone and even after my father died, my mother never moved from there. She loved it. I went to school in Braunstone, finishing up at Ellesmere Road Secondary Modern.
Leaving school at 14, my first job was with the West End Funeral Company, Narborough Road. I left school on Friday and started work on Monday. For obvious reasons I wasn't happy there and after about 16 months I found a job at Desford Coal Company and trained as an Underground Surveyor. That included going to school again at Stephenson College, Coalville and doing practical work underground at Whitwick Colliery. The technical part of the job wasn't at all difficult and I enjoyed the work.
Just before I turned 17, in 1948, I joined the Royal Navy. My first ship was the battleship HMS King George V. It was a training ship and was full of boys aged 14 to 15. The wakeup call was very early each day and at 5am the boys had to take off their shoes, roll up their trousers and scrub the deck with salt water. Being a trainee chef, I didn't have to do that.
I was with the ship about a year, learning my trade then I was sent to my first sea-going ship, HMS Vengeance, a light-fleet aircraft carrier. There's been a lovely bakery on the King George and on the Vengeance I went straight into the bakery, where I quickly got a reputation for my cobs. They must have been good because I ended up as baker to Rear Admiral Lamb, the Admiral of the Air Fleet. By this time we were in the tropics and I wore white stockings on which a crown had been embroidered. The crown told everyone that I worked for Admiral Lamb and was excused other duties.
I did two stints on the Vengeance, four years in all and thoroughly enjoyed it. There was an Australian pilot on board and one day he came down to the galley and asked me how much I weighed. When I told him he said, "Good. How would you like to be my ballast?"
There I was, in a fast jet, taking off from the deck of an aircraft carrier. He'd set up the guns and the cameras and we zoomed round the Liver Building in Liverpool. After the exercise I looked down and saw the ship pitching around on the ocean and thought, "O-er! We've got to land on there."
I saw action while I was in the Navy, first on the Suez convoys, where we spent seven months going up and down; Midnight down and midnight back, Port Said to Port Suez. I was awarded the General Service medal for that stint of duty.
By the time we were sent to Cyprus, we were all fed up with Suez. Where there was trouble with the E.O.K.A. I was a trained fire-fighter by this time and spent time ashore trying to put out warehouse fires which had been started by the terrorists. One day, I was told to "hit the deck!" I did so and saw two terrorists running towards us waving machetes.
I was 20 when I left the Navy, being demobbed in 1956. Then Teresa and I were married and lived with Mum in Braunstone. Eventually I bought a cottage in Narborough and started working parttime (nights) with the National Fire Service at Wigston. That was voluntary and unpaid, so I also found a day job at Jones & Shipman. I started as a progress chaser, then became a buyer. I only intended to stay there a few weeks, but it became 26 years. I was a registered Fire & Safety Officer at Jones & Shipman, as well as a registered Fire Officer at Wigston.
Things changed when I had my first heart attack in my early 60s. By now Teresa and I were living in Enderby and my work at Jones & Shipman and the Fire Service ended. I've done things I never thought I would do and seen some good sights and some nasty ones but on the whole, the good far outweigh the bad.
I can't remember how long I've been with Enderby Parish Council. It's been a long time. I enjoy the work and plan to stand for election again in 2015. When it comes to Parish Council work, I think more attention should be paid by the Planning Authority [Blaby District] to the comments of the local people on planning applications.
There are some very good people on the Parish Council. It has a good atmosphere and I believe the Council will have a positive future.