Pauline Batstone has spent a lifetime working with ex-offenders as a probation officer, and spends retirement working for her community
Pauline Batstone was born a stone’s throw from Dorchester. Her parents moved to Mappowder when they were offered a tenancy on a small council farm.
‘My parents were delighted to have their own farm – father was a dairyman when they took it on in 1954. Although it wasn’t considered a ‘small’ farm in those days – they were all that size back then! There were a number of council-owned farms around Mappowder; most were about 40 acres. Ours was about 70 acres.
‘Now I find myself chairman of the committee which deals with the management of Dorset Council farms. I have come full circle!’
Having moved away in the late 1960s as she entered her working life, Pauline returned to Dorset as a probation officer in 1975 – a job she held in various forms until she retired in 1990.
‘I seemed to change roles every three years – that was the way it what was done in those days. My first probation officer job was working with the families of offenders in the middle of Bournemouth. There followed three years in West Howe, again with families. Then I moved on to Poole where I covered some very difficult cases and was regularly in court. A three year spell at The Verne prison on Portland was next, which was a fascinating experience. I did two years doing Duke of Edinburgh’s Award with offenders, which meant plenty of VERY cold nights on Dartmoor, and trying to drag offenders out for walks and away from the pubs!
Next was my time as a senior probation officer, managing the probation centre and officers in West Dorset. I went from there to managing a charity that worked closely with the probation service, overseeing seven projects. Then finally as a senior officer I was managing the two probation hostels in Dorset, initially the one in Boscombe for a year and subsequently the Weymouth Hostel as well.
I was particularly working with drug offenders during that time, and together with Dr Peter Turnbull and Cllr Steve Spiegel we set up The Providence Projects, an addiction treatment centre in Bournemouth, which is still going strong and which has had some quite well known people going through it’
Providence success stories include footballer Paul Gascoigne. Matt Willis from the band Busted also credits Providence with his own recovery; “I tried three other private rehab centres but this was perfect. I had a life-changing experience here,” he says.
‘Finally, I had ten years to set up and manage the Youth Offending Team for Bournemouth and Poole and for three of those years I was national chair of Association of Youth Offending Team Managers. I stayed there until I retired! Alongside my probation work I became involved in local politics – between 1983 and 1999 I was a district councillor in East Dorset, and a county councillor from ‘90 to 1999. So I’d be at meetings in County Hall in the morning, and then would start work at midday and work through the evening on my probation officer stuff!’
‘In 1999 I stood down from local politics – but I came back when I retired, first as a town councillor, then as a county councillor, then as North Dorset district councillor. Now I’m a town councillor for Sturminster Newton, and also a district councillor.’
A life in music
And so to Pauline’s eight music choices, along with how and why they have stuck in her life:
The Marching Strings
Ray Neil And His Concert Orchestra
We used to listen to the request programme, Uncle Mac’s Children’s Favourites on the radio, and as a six-year-old I took it upon myself to write in to ask for Marching Strings which was played for ME. Much to the shock of my parents and family members as I had apparently done it all on my own – precocious brat!
Singin’ The Blues
Aged around ten, I would argue with my best friends Mary and Sheila about the merits of their idol, Elvis Presley, against my favourite, Tommy Steele. Interestingly, just yesterday I saw a programme on Tommy Steele, who’s now 86. I’m still a fan – even more so since I saw the documentary and learned more about him and his career.
Love Me Do
When the Beatles came on the scene it was such a different music from anything that had gone before. It was so distinctive. They were the musical experience to my generation – we were suddenly blasted apart hearing them for the first time….”Love Me Do” I think was the first track I heard, I remember grooving away to it with my classmates in the hockey sticks shed at Lord Digby’s School. Come on, you can’t not. Everyone loves the Beatles!
Blue Danube Waltz
Johan Strauss II
This is just wonderful, and always makes me think of my parents, who loved dancing and especially loved Viennese music. As a small child, I remember being waltzed around the garden by my father to the Blue Danube.
When I was studying for my
A-levels, it was me staying at home in the evening and they would be out dancing somewhere until one in the morning. Me calling ”what time do you call this to come home?”. Even worse, one night they locked their keys in the car down in Weymouth, phoned me, and I set off across deepest Dorset in my old Morris Eight on my own to rescue them with the spare keys!
We still had the farm at that time, so they would get home in the small hours and then get up at 5.30a.m to do the milking!
Do The Reggae
Toots & the Maytals
Reggae music was the soundtrack of my time in Bristol. I went to secretarial college down in Bridport, where they ‘provided young ladies with a good education…’ I learned to do shorthand, typing and bookkeeping, and went on to work in Bristol in 1968. There were a lot of West Indians living or arriving in St Pauls in the years after the Windrush. I used to help with an Anglo-West Indian youth club, and made some great friends. I still have my steward’s badge from the first St. Paul’s Festival. My new friends were also country people who had moved to a big city – we were all constantly locking ourselves out thanks to Yale locks which none of us were used to!
Although their countryside roots were very different from mine, obviously, our experiences in Bristol held many similarities.
My uncle was living in Australia when I was a child, and I grew up constantly hearing about it. My own first trip to Australia was in 1971, to visit uncle, aunt and cousins in Fremantle. I was on a British Council Scholarship and had two months working in the immigration department at Canberra before travelling to the other side of the country to my relations in Fremantle, crossing the Nullarboor Plain by bus. It was before the roads were made up with hard surfaces all the way!
Subsequently I discovered that my great grandparents had migrated to Australia (NSW) in 1867 and I had family there. My great great grandmother (originally from Winfrith Newburgh) was actually called Matilda. I have since linked up with the cousins on the eastern side of Oz as well and I think I have been over to visit at least ten times now. It’s my second home.
Rhapsody in Blue
I just … love it. The Jazz Age – the fashion, the music … Gershwin brings so many memories. And it’s such a moving piece of music.
Beethoven’s 9th Symphony Movement IV – Ode to Joy
It’s just fantastic! It is beautiful in its own right, and makes me think of being in church (I’m the church warden at Mappowder) when we sing the Gloria. As a politician it also reminds me of the utter stupidity of Brexit …
A book for a castaway
I think I’d take Robert Young’s The Poems of Rabin Hill.
Robert Young was the son of a tailor in Sturminster Newton, and by the 1880s he was a prosperous businessman and property owner, affluent enough to build one of Stur’s finest houses, The Hive, to live in. He owned several others in town, including the one in which Thomas Hardy lived.
He was known for writing comic poems in the local dialect – Rabin Hill was one of his characters.
Robert wrote an account of Rabin Hill coming down from Stoke Wake in a trap; he’s never seen a train before, and is determined to see the train at Stur. He goes on a train ride to Templecombe and back, and can’t believe how quickly they were back again.
He also thinks he sees the devil on the train but it was the stoker, black from the coal and the smoke! I recommend it, the poems are fascinating.
A luxury item?
A satellite phone.
I don’t care if it’s cheating, I’m smuggling it in anyway.
One to keep?
And if a giant wave was coming, and there was only time to snatch ONE record, which would Pauline save from the water?
‘Gershwin. Always the Gershwin. It’s the most moving of them all.’