THEN: Born a world War II baby, I was brought up mainly by my grandmother near Edinburgh, Scotland, while my GP mother worked in the slums of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and my father, an RAMC surgeon, was at the front. I knew little of the war until, much later, I learned that my father had been a Dunkirk survivor, escaping with only a photograph of my mother which I thought very romantic. Gran taught me many things such as saving every penny, believing and proving that women were equal to men and I believe launched me on a modern pioneering life. I credit her with giving me the determination and courage to break through the limitations of female work into the ranks of middle management in the (1970/80s) man’s world of the oil industry. In Scotland at that time I was occasionally the only female member of business organisations or events.
My childhood was very happy. My mother was always at home for us teaching love, honesty, faith and compassion. She was the most caring person I have ever known, reaching out to others irrespective of their background or need and showing her Christianity in her loving actions. I miss her since she died, aged almost 94, and feel closer to her now than I did for many years while coping with jobs, marriage, divorce, remarriage and step-motherhood, cancer, bereavement, remarriage (again) and emigration. My father exemplified loyalty, duty, ‘authority’, love of words and a mischievous sense of humour. Both parents encouraged us to travel with the result that my sister and brothers made their homes in Italy, Australia and Greece, and I in Canada.
NOW: December 4th, 1994, was the beginning of the Canadian chapter in my life: “middle aged grandmother ran away from home” as I married my longtime friend, Mark, immigrated and Calgary became my home.
Achieving permanent residency took nine years as we waded through immigration bureaucracy because of my cancer history (see Health page) and 15¼ years later on Friday March 19th, 2010, the new Mrs. Hambridge was officially admitted to Canadian Citizenship!
At last I was no longer an ‘alien’! Integration into Canada was very rewarding as I learned how diverse Canadians are, enriching society with their varying backgrounds and cultures. Making friends with immigrants from many parts of the world is one of my fascinations, as evidenced by our guests at celebration meals – at Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving we invite others who also have no family in Canada. We are proud that some families have ‘adopted’ us as Canadian parents, and more than one young person calls me Granny Annie.
Our Christian belief is the basis for setting our daily agenda and planning our activities (see Spirituality page); sharing my experiences to help others and contribute to our community is also important (see Health and Soroptimist pages); we both enjoy classical music (Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra) and drama (Morpheus Theatre).
My latest passion is my three-legged little black cat, Joy, adopted from the MEOW Foundation, who brings immense companionship, fun and of course joy.
Canada is a wonderful country and Calgary an amazing city: I’m proud to belong to both.