Member Monday #032

Every Monday we profile one of our Members. This week in we are joined by Proprietor 162, Jutta Hesketh!

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of The Athenaeum.

Who are you ?

I am Jutta Hesketh, my father was a Dental Surgeon who also held the Microbiology Chair at the Dental Faculty of the University of Buenos Aires. My brothers and I grew up above his surgery.

 I was educated at ‘Northlands’, an English School in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

In 1953, having finished school and being the youngest of four children, all the family boarded a French liner to travel to Europe, to quote my parents’ words, ‘to see the old world’!  After eighteen exciting days crossing the Atlantic, we disembarked in Vigo where after travelling by car through Spain, the South of France down to Rome, then up North to Milan, all the time visiting museums, interesting sights and towns, my brothers and I rebelled and asked for a break! Our parents relented and we enjoyed a whole week in Switzerland; we had never seen so much snow, absolutely wonderful!

Then on through Germany, Belgium and on to England.

Where after visiting relatives, I was finally ‘abandoned’ at Oxford to enrol at the Oxford School of Arts and Crafts. In 1955 I was awarded an NDD in Ceramics.

Returning to Buenos Aires I built up my own studio, designing and selling my pottery as well as exhibiting as a member of an Arts Group named ‘Estudio de Bellas Artes’.

In 1956, Martin Hesketh, an architect I had met in the last term of my studies at Oxford and had become engaged to him, came out to Buenos Aires to work there for a year. We married in 1957, then returned to England.

We have two married sons and five grandchildren, even after 63 years together we somehow still manage to get through every day! Happily, I would like to add, and we are blessed in having such a close and loving family.

What is your greatest achievement  ?

Not being able to set up my own pottery, I decided to teach Primary School Children where my Art training would be of use.

Dealing mostly with Special Needs Children, slow learners and high ability, I devised cross- curriculum board games so that learning would be fun for them.

Working closely with the Wirral Educational Psychologist, as well as giving talks to disseminate my ideas throughout the Authority, I was asked to form a team to develop work for Infant/ Junior and Secondary Schools.

Merseyside Police approached me to run courses based on these ideas so that when Community Police were asked to speak to School Children on relevant problems, they could also use the games and work sheets we had devised.  

Some of my other involvements were: Secretary to the Birkenhead Boys School Council, Treasurer of the UKRA, 2012 President of the Prenton Literary and Debating Society, founder member of Oxton- Prenton U3A, Speaker Secretary of the ESU Liverpool and Merseyside Branch.

Since 2008 I lead Conversation Groups in Spanish and German which are still continuing throughout this pandemic. I also lead a History of Art Group and give talks on Art, Literature and Music.

I started the Athenaeum Arts Group organizing outside speakers as well as visits to exhibitions.

Can you give one interesting fact about yourself ?

At the age of 60, I enrolled as a crew member and sailed around the Canary Islands on a three masted schooner. I had never sailed before but enjoyed every moment even if at times found it rather demanding!

To celebrate my 70th birthday my husband and I walked the Camino de Santiago, the Pilgrims Way. Albeit only from Leon to Santiago. An unforgettable experience.

What brought you to the Athenaeum ?

 In 1969 I was writing a thesis on C18th English Literature when a friend of my husband, a Proprietor of the Athenaeum, suggested that I should research in their Library.

 My overriding memory is of my first visit in 1969. Harold Crofts, Proprietor, met me at the entrance of the Athenaeum door, took me straight to the lift, up to the second floor and showed me round the Library.

After a couple of hours on my own, finding suitable books and starting on my research, Harold came back, escorted me into the lift, straight down and out of the front door. This pattern of visits continued for some time until I asked why I was not allowed to use the stairs.

Oh dear, a woman seen on the stairs!  Oh no, not then! How things have changed since but even so, I did enjoy being allowed to use its excellent Library.

Is there anything you would like to change about the Athenaeum ?

Much has changed since I first joined in 2004. As soon as I heard that women could become Proprietors, I joined and have not regretted it.

There is a lively atmosphere that seems to be growing as time goes by. Even now, in spite of the pandemic, the difficulties and ever changing national rules that the Committees and the Staff have to comply with, keep the club going successfully, it cannot be bettered. Proprietors and guests are always received with a smile and a genuine welcome.

What would you say to anyone considering joining the Club ?

Do join. The Library, the food, the friendliness of the Staff and the atmosphere are worth their weight in gold.