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Cherry’s Story

Many years ago Cherry Hartley was very active and prominent in BOPF, as she still was before lockdown with local community groups Malcolm X Elders and Tudor Road Golden Agers and her church. Well done Cherry, you are a vital part of our Bristol communities.  Here is her story.

Evadney Hartley is known to everyone as Cherry, as that was the colour of her skin when she was born, in 1933 in Seaforth, in the parish of St Thomas, Jamaica. Her Jamaican dressmaker mother was of English descent and the family name of her white Scottish wheelwright father was Ďe Monfrieŝ. He was the son of a Scottish man and Indian mother.

The third child of eight, as a first girl, despite there being a maid, she says she bore some responsibility for raising the others.

After finishing school at fifteen, she went on to study and pass further exams and Cherry says she could have been anything, but chose to train to become a doctor. Although a very bright student, good at everything that was asked of her, she calls these her primitive years, with no thought of men and such things, even at seventeen.

She taught for a year in the local school but gave up – says she had no patience at that time.

At twenty-five she married and moved to Morant Bay, the capital of St Thomas. Her husband, actually named Alderman Hartley, was a capable general builder, architect,  and works contractor. They had daughter Monique, in 1954, and in 1956, son Eric.

Having wanted to be a doctor, she reluctantly gave up her dream, to look after her children and bring them up properly rather than having them spoilt by a less interested or careless nanny.

Wanting to see something of the world Cherry travelled to England in 1960, having agreed that her husband would follow with their two children. Cherry believes that before he could do so, he was poisoned and the culprit never found. She really loved him and misses him to this day, but being a young woman with two children in a strange country, (and with no housemaid), she had to do her best to get over him. In England in 1962 she gave birth to son Everton and in 1965, daughter Jennifer came along, to different fathers,

in 1973 she married Leroy Dehaney and lived with her new husband for eight years, before leaving, feeling she had been treated harshly – she says like a work horse.

Her third husband, at the age of 54 was Ernest Morrison. And as always, Cherry did work hard. Her first job when she came to the UK was in London, Colliers Wood, as a pastry cook. She moved to Bristol 23rd December 1963. In 1970 she worked on the buses as a conductress, and endured four years of racial abuse and insults while giving as good as she got!

Then as an auxiliary nurse at the Homeopathic Hospital she had a breakdown and didn’t work for five years. Her next job was at Wainbrook Old People’s Home mostly on night shift for eight years, and after suffering strain from lifting people, she retired in 1993, aged fifty nine.

She bought her house in 1983, paid for it in 13 years and still lives there, every year doing a little pot (not that kind of pot!) gardening to raise the best peas in England.

Cherry says she has had a hard life but is happy now with her large family, her many friends and the voluntary work she does, at Malcolm X Centre and Golden Agers of Tudor Road on alternate weeks.  At both of these elders groups Cherry participates with day trips three times a year, with knitting and sewing groups, and reminiscing together on their lives over dinner. She has been driving for around 50 years, knits and sews, has regularly cooked for Malcolm X Elders banquets, and was active in Bristoil Older People’s Forum for several years. Cherry keeps as active as she can for a woman with sciatica, cervical spondylolysis, a curved spine and all sorts of ailments to keep above in her 87th year.

Well known as a dressmaker, Cherry had no need for patterns as she designed the clothes “in my head”. Her last big task was for seven three layer bridesmaids dresses for her grand daughters’ wedding; “7 by 3 = 21 dresses in different sizes,“ she says she dreamt dresses for ages, but I think she is proud of her ability to bring happiness through her skill and care.

She is proud of her 4 children, 20 grandchildren and 26 great grandchildren and 2 great great grandchildren, and I expect they’re all very proud to have such a good role model as head of family.

Cherry says that after 50 or so years of driving, she has passed her car on in the family and reluctantly given up driving. A wise decision, not easty to make, so well done Cherry.

Tony Wilson
BOPF Trustee

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