Alan Jenkins joined the Royal Forest of Dean College when it opened in 1985. Well-liked by students Alan taught Geography and adult education classes. He took early retirement in 1996 and now lives in Denmark. Alan recently got in touch with us to recall the day one of the Forest's most popular poets came into to talk to his class....
After moving to live in Denmark, I was invited to join a group of retired Danes who meet (met!) regularly and informally, to practise their reading, writing and conversation skills in English. They call themselves 'The English Group'. Initially they were expertly organised and led by a former exchange colleague of mine. Since her sad demise, most of them elected to continue meeting once a week through Autumn and Spring, with a break over the summer. Between themselves, they have been quite capable of choosing themes to discuss and books to read in English, without much input from me.
Way back, when living in Coleford, I came to know Joyce and her husband Bob, and it is a tribute to Doug McClean of The Forest Bookshop, who published the work of local authors, that her poems and two volumes of autobiography came out in print. It was around that time, when the Royal Forest of Dean College at Five Acres was still thriving, that I invited Joyce to come in and meet the adult students on our Access to Higher Education course. She was a little reluctant at first, but after explaining that the idea was to give them a brief respite, both from the purely academic side of things, and no doubt from the sound of my voice, she consented. Besides, I thought, they would be sure to learn something interesting about The Forest of Dean in the process.
Joyce comemorated celebrated in the West-Dean authors mural by artist Tom Cousins for Reading the Forest. Painted on the former pub Help Me Through The World (once also the Masons Arms) in Coleford where Joyce once worked.