True North: Stories of Holbeck – Ann

4th January 2021

Ann Hepburn, 69, Holbeck Together Trustee, Volunteer and Local Resident

I was born in Scotland in the Highlands, in a tiny place called Keith at the foot of the Cairngorm Mountains. We moved to Armley in Leeds when I was three.

My mum was ill for most of my childhood and died before I got married. She couldn’t do any cooking or housework from when I was about nine, so I’d do that. She could work because she worked in an office and they used to pick her up so she didn’t have to go on transport. It was really good. She worked for Associated Dairies, which is now Arla.

When I got married we moved to Holbeck in 1976. I was working in Henry Burger on Commercial Street which was a high fashion boutique. When I had kids I gave work up. It isn’t like it is today, you couldn’t go back after – you had to give your job up.

When the kids got to school age I looked for part-time work again. My father was living with us too at that stage as he wasn’t well but it wasn’t hard work. He used to help out by preparing the veg while I was at work or collect the kids from school if I had to work late. It was lovely having him there and I think the kids enjoyed it.

I started working for social services in Lawrence House residential care home. I was working there part time and then on nights. Part of working in a home involved giving some of my time back on a voluntary basis – they asked us to help out at events and give some time back to the community. And that’s where it all started with volunteering really. If you weren’t working you’d still help out.

Then I became involved with St. Matthews Centre. An older woman asked my friend and I if we’d help out with Bingo as her sight was going. And I’ve been doing it ever since, for just over 20 years now. You do one thing and someone else asks!

Holbeck Elderly Aid (now Holbeck Together) asked if I’d help out with their activities, and then the vice-chair of the HEA board decided I could also be a governer! I’ve been a governer at St. Luke’s as well ever since. I used to help out at St. Luke’s before that though – I used to decorate the tree in the hall in my spare time.

Volunteering keeps me busy and now I’m retired it definitely keeps me occupied. It doesn’t feel like I’m working hard but I like to be busy. I enjoy it – I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t. You get to know a real variety of people. I like to know that I’ve helped somebody. You know you might be the only person they see all day or chat to. It also keeps me active. I’m not sure about fit, but it definitely keeps me active. 

I’ve always checked on my neighbours but they do too – I’ve been very lucky. We’ve all lived side by side for 40 years and they’ve been there longer than me. When you’ve known people for years, no matter where they are in the community, you check on them. We all keep an eye out.

When I first moved here there were all shops all the way down Domestic Street. I’d like to see better facilities for the children, because the park is run-down and it hasn’t been looked after.

My favourite thing about Holbeck is my community, my neighbours. They’re my friends. It’s a lovely community. Holbeck has much more to offer than people think.

About True North: Stories of Holbeck

True North is a collaborative project between local people, Holbeck Together, and our friends at Northern Monk Brewery, which celebrates the rich tapestry of life in Holbeck, once the epicentre of the industrial revolution.

In this blog series, we bring you the stories of the members of the Holbeck community we invited to be part of our 2020 True North calendar. You can read more about the project here.

Drawing on over 27 years of experience working in Holbeck focusing on people in later years of living, Holbeck Together’s doors are now open to the whole community. Holbeck Together supports people of all ages, providing advice and advocacy services, social activities and transport options.

Working collaboratively is central to our ethos and we believe that real social change is achieved when local people, groups, organisations and businesses work together. Our partnership with Northern Monk Brewery is a fantastic example of what can be achieved when businesses and voluntary organisations work together and pool resources to achieve a shared goal.

Photography featured throughout is by Mark Newton Photography.

Supporters of Holbeck Together