Not many of you know this but when Janice was born, the doctors knew there was something special about her but they couldn’t quite put their finger on it because Google hadn’t been invented back them. I’ve known Jan for just over eleven physical years but I feel like I’ve known her all her life. You see Jan and I worked together in a English Academy in Cartagena where Jan taught more than English. She taught the students life skills lessons. Like how to have fun; how to laugh and her favourite game was “Simon says”. Her husband Mike tried to play the same game with her “ Simon says stay home. Simon says go the kitchen. Simon says make my dinner. But this game didn’t quite work for Mike.
I got to know Jan because we shared a lift to work and when I drove the 25 minute journey, I got to learn Jan has a passion for the finer things in life like good food, a cold beer on a hot day, dancing and dressing up – which is why you’ve all had an anxious week rummaging through your wardrobes to make sure the long dresses and suits still fit.
When it was Jan’s turn to drive to work, the journey took only 10 minutes where she ably demonstrated her defensive driving skills and needless to say my heart was well exercised and I made sure to wear my “brown” trousers.
Now what Google confirmed to me and I’m sure you’ll agree – what puzzled the doctors is how Jan’s brain works!! A whirlwind travelling at the speed of light. When Jan gets an idea in her head there’s no stopping her. An example that comes to mind are her numerous trips she made to England. Now these trips were very short lasting at most 2 or 3 days but she managed (only Gods knows how) to visit family and friends from the south of England to the north of England cultivating friendships and maintaining family relationships. And those same friends and family have returned the favour by being here tonight to help Jan celebrate her 70th birthday. Hands up cousins from Surrey – Hertfordshire – Burley- Isle of Wight – Hampshire – Manchester. Then just for good measure she flies back via Madrid, where she skilfully tells Mike she took that route because it was cheaper.
Her speed and energy don’t stop there because Retirement for Jan means sailing – twice a day – every day including Sundays – with her sailing buddies from SAMM, the Shoestring group, the Baltones and not forgetting The Titanic.
Now with all this running around Jan needed a safe place to put her head down so she would call me up for a coffee morning. Do you remember all those coffee mornings Jan? I’d be in the midst of story and when I looked up there was Jan, eyes shut catching a power nap!! Because after me, she had to fit in her Spanish lesson, her bike ride and dog walk. Mike certainly had to put up with a lot.
Jan’s philosophy has always been Live Life. Stay young.
Jan, you’re the nicest, sincere woman I know. You never forget what’s important in life like your friends, family and your children who have all gathered here tonight from all over and I especially thank the cousins from England who remembered to pack the rain. Let’s raise our glasses and wish Jan the best birthday celebration ever. Happy birthday Jan.