Susan Michele Walker (nee Rogers)


Born in Chester-le-Street, Co. Durham, I spent 19 years of my life in the wonderful wild North-East I still love to go back to visit family, and explore some of the lovely coast and countryside in Durham and Northumbria. Secondary school was Chester-le-Street Grammar School (later called The Deanery School and currently Park View Community School). I went to University College Cardiff from 1973-1976 to read English and Classics, did the usual round of parties, reading, and socialising, met my future husband and, from him, learned the joys of surfing on the scenic, but generally cold and wet, South Wales coast.

After a brief spell working in odd jobs in Bristol 1977-78, and a couple of seasons working in hotels in Switzerland, 1978-1979 (culminating in my suffering a badly broken leg following a skiing fall) we married and went to Australia in 1980 to work as "Jackaroo" and "Jillaroo"' on a farm near Bathurst, inland NSW. We managed to have our sentences commuted from "working holiday" to "residence" status and thereby extended our stay from the planned 6 months to an eventual 12 years.

During our stay I completed the postgraduate course in Information Management - Librarianship at the University of New South Wales, Sydney. I then set off on a career in librarianship which I have always enjoyed, through a variety of library types. I began by setting up a technical library at Tomago Aluminium, and then moved to Cessnock City Library for five years as Systems and then Deputy Chief Librarian.

 In 1987 we produced our first daughter, Hayley, and in 1989 our second and last, Charlotte. I then moved to the quiet country college library at Kurri Kurri Institute of Technology (with kangaroos bouncing around the campus) to manage the part time library there until 1992, when I gave up work to spend time with my two growing girls and to pursue a postgraduate computing course via external studies from Deakin University, Melbourne. I did some casual library cover and a little teaching of communication skills to the technical college students and so kept my hand in with my career and even broadened my experience a little.

 During this time, my husband, Nigel, had spent 11 years as a geologist with the New South Wales Joint Coal Board. In 1992 the coal industry started to wind down and he found himself out of work. We decided that this was an opportunity for us to chance our arm on returning to England, which we did in September 1992. If we had not found work we were ready to return to our lovely home in Bolwarra, in the beautiful wine producing Hunter Valley region, near Maitland, NSW. However by March 1993 we were both employed by the University of Oxford and, by September 1994, comfortably settled in our first English home in Woodstock, with the scenic park of Blenheim Palace nearby for walks. Both girls were established happily into the local school, and quickly began taking up sports and hobbies, making friends and putting down their own roots.

I was Reader Services Librarian at the Department of Plant Sciences / Oxford Forestry Institute at the University of Oxford between January 1993 and July 1999, when I moved to ESCP-EAP European School of Management in Oxford, to re-organise their business school library. I moved from there in December 2000, to take up post as team leader in the Information Centre at Templeton College; back in the University of Oxford and remained as Information Centre Manager until 2004. I briefly managed Sparsholt Agricultural College, until the 65mile commute twice a day became too much and I moved to CSA Europe in Oxford as the database trainer for Scandinavia in November 2005. I have since travelled throughout Scandinavia and The Baltics, including a week in Iceland in 2006 - a long standing dream of mine. In 2008 I changed to covering the UK and Ireland, so getting to explore new and interesting cities more locally. Finally, at the end of 2009 I moved back to librarianship, as weekend Assistant librarian for the Bodelien Law Library

Nigel's career moved from geologist, logging coal samples in the Australian field, to computer support technician in the Bodleian's Radcliffe Science Library and lattery OULS at Osney Mead. He has become happily established in this field and has remained in post since March 1993, evolving with the development of CDs and then Internet technologies to manage the database networks for the University Libraries.

It has been wonderful to be back in England and available to join the rest of the family for many major occasions, such as my parents' and 80th birthdays and their Golden Wedding anniversary in February 1996, when we treated them to a trip to their honeymoon city of Edinburgh, and surprised them by all (12 of us, including partners and Dad's brother) arriving to share an evening with them there. We had an extended family holiday with them and most of my sisters and their families in Portugal in 1994 and another with my sisters in Florida in 1999 and have been around to share in various family weddings, births and (sadly) deaths

I also managed to be around for the first Grammar school reunion for our year, early in 2000, where we had an interesting evening, meeting up with old friends. An official school reunion was also arranged in April 2000, when those of us in the family who were 'old girls and boys' - me, Avril,  Dad (at the Grammar in the 1930s),  Pam and her husband Peter (school sweethearts) and Hazel, had a family visit to the old school to have a look around. (David, Avril's son, who was there in the 80s couldn't make it). It was a fascinating evening, exploring the old familiar classrooms, now updated with modern technology, and seeing yet more familiar faces, including many of the teachers we remembered. Hard to believe we were ever as young as the earnest and talented students who presented the display and performed there for us that evening. Uncle Ted's evacuee photo was included in their history presentation, as he too had started at the Grammar and was wearing his school cap (remember those!!) in the group photo on board the ship taking him out to Australia in 1940.

The girls are now both grown and independent. The two of them get along well together; and share many interests and tastes, despite having very different personalities and styles. We can only hope that lasts! 

Nigel continues to enjoy his twice (or more) weekly cricket for West Witney, Blenheim Palace, and occasionally the Bodleian teams during the summer Otherwise his time is spent working on the house or in the garden. 

Generally, when I have time, my favourite hobbies are arts and crafts. I particularly like sketching, coloured pencil or inks - which often goes hand in hand with walking (strolling as opposed to hiking). I continue to enjoy cycling, and cycle part way to work when the weather permits. I also like swimming (preferably in the sea, but rivers or outdoor pools will do), and have a long term passion for dance. I did ballet and jazz for many years (auditioned for the Royal Ballet when I was 11) but now restrict myself to watching only, with the very occasional disco or salsa evening. I try to do a couple of sessions of yoga a week and feel a real benefit in health and wellbeing, and I also do dance exercise to video at home on weekends when I can (ie about once a year )

I am also interested in investigating family history, alongside documenting my immediate family's development, and have put a basic copy of my family tree on the web for research. If anyone wants to contact me regarding genealogy for the Flowers, Redpaths, Rogers, Coopers or Yongues from the North East of England, please do email me for an exchange of information.

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