Traveller Stories: Beatrice White
'My name is Beatrice White (Woodward) so for anybody that knows the Woodward, Sheriff, Winters or the Finney family they’re my breed.'
My earliest school memory was being away from my family and feeling alone in a school full of people that seemed to be slightly different to me. I started school at the age of 10 and a half, I hated it but my mam and dad told me that I could leave school as soon as I could read and write. Well I can tell you that learnt to read and write within six months of being there and because of my great achievement in doing this I was told I would have to go into secondary school… so not the outcome I really wanted but looking back I’m really pleased now that I was made to go.
I left school at fourteen and half without any qualifications. I was brought up in the traditional Romany way from birth really and was taught how to go out hawking (which is door to door selling) I did that for over 30 years and I really enjoyed it. I worked 16 years for Cambridgeshire Traveller Education service (CREDS) which I enjoyed tremendously and I feel that I’ve made a real difference in young Gypsy/Traveller lives by coercion into education both primary and secondary school.
I’ve successfully run my own 1:1 Diet by Cambridge Weight Plan since 2008 and still do. I’m an adult tutor and am currently employed by The Traveller Health team as their GRT Education adviser and adult tutor (Ginemengro in Romany).
I’ve made Holly Wreaths and I’ve also taught how to make holly wreaths in a number of settings over the years including schools, colleges and I’ve run many workshops over the years too.. I’m still making wreaths and will do until the day I can no longer make them. My aunt Mary Finney taught me how to make them when we stopped on the site at Northampton many years ago now.
I’ve also worked alongside Rose Wilson (Cunningham) to teach the Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) students at Northampton University about the Gypsy/Traveller traditions and way of life to give them knowledge on how to teach GRT students.
I support and gain access to educational institutions for the Gypsy/Traveller communities throughout Cambridgeshire. I am also working with college’ supporting secondary age pupils in an increased flexibility session. This is a provision set up through the school and local college which gives young GRT people the chance to access vocational courses such as hairdressing, mechanics and construction.
I love life and always try to make a positive difference in every body’s life that I’m lucky enough meet or touch.
Oh and I smile at least twice a day just because I can.
Cambridgeshire Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Heritage
Add your story: If you have a GRT story to share we would love to hear from you – please email Ariadne Henry at Cambridge City Council Ariadne.Henry@cambridge.gov.uk