When Joan Cooper decided she and her young family would emigrate to Australia, she was a sprightly 23-years-old. She’s now 78 but has lost none of her energy and as we chat at her niece, Yvonne Grundy’s house, it’s hard to keep up with her.
Joan grew up in Bramley and went to Northcote Private School at the same time as Barbara Taylor Bradford, with whom she is still in touch. After leaving school, she worked for a time as an ornamental sugar confectioner at a firm called DCL on Tong Road. She married and had two children.
Joan had a friend who had already succumbed to the lure of a more prosperous life Down Under and she and her husband at the time decided to take the plunge too.
She recalls: “When you’re young you make snap decisions like that. My thinking was, if we didn’t like it, we could come back home. It was always something I had an inkling about, because my mother always wanted to go to Australia. I remember telling them and she just backed me all the way. Sadly, she never got to realise her dream, she died about a year after I left.”
A three-day long flight with a stopover in Singapore followed, after which Joan began her new life in Perth, Western Australia. “I was a cleaner to start with and later worked in the fast food industry.”
Joan returned home roughly every ten years. She remembers the old Bramley (prior to the demolition of the old town and its replacement with the modern shopping centre) and wishes they had left it alone. She says she was horrified when she came home on a visit and saw what they