Chailey Heritage School Old Scholars Association
DOCTOR ELIZABETH WHATLEY I was always in trouble, I argued, I fought, I was in a strange place and they couldn't deal with me. Looking back I can see that what I had been deprived of since the age of three was love. Kindness was in short supply in the busy hospitals and homes I was placed in and by the time I went to Chailey I had three younger sisters and my poor mother was under immense stress.  I wasn't stupid, but in all the care, the emphasis was placed on the physical and not the intellectual.  I knew something was wrong with me but not why.  Things changed for me when I was directed one day to go to see a new doctor. I went to the little room and there was the woman who changed my life.  She looked soft and grey and had a soft voice and she offered me a digestive biscuit and a drink. For me meeting this lady was a revelation. Her name was Doctor Elizabeth Whatley and I think she was a psychologist or a psychiatrist, whatever her profession she did change my life. When I had relaxed a little she started asking me questions. She spoke and I listened and then she said " where does milk come from?"  I went on guard, was she trying to trick me, what if I said the wrong thing. "Goats" I said, thinking to myself it's a mammal and mammals produce milk. She smiled at me with a twinkle in her eye, "anything else?"  It's a game I thought, she thought I would say cow and I said goat. "Sheep, pigs, horses, zebras, deer, lions, tigers, deer, monkeys”.  I stopped, she had a big grin "and?" she said.  I was enjoying myself, "elephants, and giraffes, aaand”, I stretched the word out, “cows and humans". She laughed gently, "well that's all for now" she said. I thought at the time this was the most fun I had ever had in my life. I never saw her again but, later on, after I had finished my education at Chailey and at Totnes High School for Girls, and was applying to Devon County Council for my first job, I did get in touch with her. One of the questions on the application form was "Have you ever had treatment for or suffered from psychiatric problems."  I wasn't sure how to answer it.  How I found Dr Whatley’s number I don't know, but I rang her and her husband answered.  I explained why I was ringing and he told me she was very ill and in hospital, but he told me she was fighting to finish a book.  I was both embarrassed and in awe.  It told me two things, keep fighting and never give up.  I have tried to live my life by these two precepts.
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