I left school when I lived in Folkestone and started work as a Supermarket Assistant at the town's branch of Sainsburys. I worked there for about a year and a half. It wasn't what I wanted to do for my career but it was good enough while it lasted and I was happy to be earning some money whilst I saved up and waited for a chance to do what I really wanted to do - join the Royal Air Force, and travel. Whilst at Sainsburys, however, I made some good friends and am still in touch with one of them (Stella) even now, so many years later!
After about 18 months, I was finally able to leave Sainsbury's to follow in my father's footsteps: I joined the Royal Air Force.
I did my six weeks' basic training at an RAF camp close to England's border with Wales. At the end of this training period, we had a Passing Out parade to celebrate our successful completion of this training. My father had been seriously ill for some time at this point in my life, and so I had accepted that sadly my family couldn't and wouldn't be there for the parade, but I was totally astonished and absolutely honoured to see my parents and younger sister amongst other families who had come to see their daughters and friends parade.
After five days' leave (spent at home in Folkestone visting friends and family), I was required to report to RAF North Luffenham, situated between Leicester and Peterborough in the East Midlands area of England, where I would train as a Radio Operator (Voice). I can't tell you what my job entailed (well, I can tell you, but I'd have to shoot you, hehe) but you can find out in the RAF web pages that detail similar careers offered these days.
My trade training lasted around 14 months and once I had successfully passed my exams in February 1983, I was posted to RAF Gatow, which is where I lived, but I worked at Teufelsberg (Devil's Mountain), both in Berlin (or West Berlin as it was called then), located just over 100 miles from the East German/Polish border.
I spent a total of seven years working there. I did return to the UK for further trade training in that time but was more than happy to return to the city that was at that time 'an island of freedom in a sea of communism'. I absolutely adored my time in Berlin! See my page: "Kazzy bides in Berlin" for more information about my years in Berlin.
I was proud to serve in the RAF for nine years but, from around the middle point of my service, I found I was suffering from almost constant ear problems. Sadly, once it was obvious I had these problems, the RAF refused to extend my service, so when my contract expired, I found myself back in 'civvy street' - I returned to Folkestone. See my page "Kazzy Kan't Hear", which tells of the hearing problems I had later on.
I got myself a job with a construction company operating in Germany, but that ended a few months later when the company went into liquidation.
I then decided to try my luck working as a German translator and found myself working for a guy called Nick, who ran a construction company operating mostly in the northern area of Germany, including Hamburg, Kiel and Lübeck. My job became very diverse. I worked as Nick's secretary and in time became his Office Manager, whilst also working as his Translator. I travelled occasionally to Hamburg to translate during contract and site meetings. I worked with Nick until the work dried up.
After this, I worked as Office Manager for a Care in the Community company but was made redundant a couple of years later. In my spare time during my employment with this company, I also worked occasional shifts as a Flexi-Support Worker helping to look after adults with learning difficulties. This aspect of my job was very different for me - something I enjoyed whilst I did it, but I don't plan on returning to it.
At the time I left this company, I was clearly hearing-impaired and dependent on assistive devices to cope with everyday life. While I was looking for a new job, I considered my options, finally deciding to apply for work only with organisations or companies that applied the 'double tick' - the sign that employers and facilities were supposedly more accessible by, and understanding of, disabled people.
With this in mind, I decided to try my luck back with the military (in a round-about way), so I applied for and secured a job with the Civil Service, working with the Army. I was employed to work within the Military Estates branch of a Brigade Headquarters on an Army camp in the south of England, but found very soon that I was extremely unhappy. I almost hated my job; I found I simply wasn't challenged in this post at all and before too long I was so very bored. I was almost constantly ill and the frequency of my ear infections and perforations increased vastly - perhaps this was linked to the fact that I was extremely unhappy in my job. It was time for a change - and it had to be soon.
I was extremely lucky: a previous boss had approached me and enquired whether I might consider working with him again. He knew me and understood my situation; I knew him and understood his way of working: more to the point, we could both trust each other. And so it was, that in January 2004 I left the Civil Service and started my new job back with the Nick that I had worked for in Folkestone and on site in northern Germany. Twenty-three years after re-joining him, I still work with him and if the truth be known, I haven't been so happy in a very long time.