Sharleen was born in England in 1958 to Caribbean parents. Her mother was from Jamaica and her father was from St Vincent. They met in New Cross, London in her grandmother’s boarding house and Sharleen was born in Greenwich. The family moved to High Wycombe in 1960.
When we first came to Wycombe we lived with Pastor Johnson on Roberts Road for a while, before my parent got the house we grew up in. They have been in that house 61 years now. My husband Robert and I moved to this house to help look after my parents.
Sharleen had a wonderful child-hood, including family holidays in North Wales, Cornwall and Clacton. She first visited the Caribbean at 16, to visit her grandmother who had retired back home, and travelled the whole country.
As a confident and sometimes rebellious young person Sharleen remembers how she kept her strict dad on side.
The moment I was out of his sight, I found somewhere to change into the fashionable clothes of the day, which were generally very skimpy. I put my respectable outfit in my bag until it was home time.
Sharleen as a child with her father.
Sharleen (right) at a Miss St. Vincent pageant.
School in the Caribbean had included a lot of rote learning, reading and writing, with lessons outside. In England he found children did not want to learn. Enos enjoyed secondary school more, meeting teachers who cared about their subjects and gave extra lessons to help him through O-levels.
My mother always says I got my characteristics from my grandmother. She tried lots of things, did lots of different jobs, she worked at the Lyons Tea House, she was a seamstress, she was even a model for a while, and also she worked for New Scotland Yard. She loved having fun, she was the life and soul of any party.
Sharleen during her primary school years.
Sharleen went to Sands primary school, where there were not many other black children but she never experienced racism there and was inviting into her friends’ homes for parties. When she went to Brenchwood Secondary in Downley she started to experience serious bullying from other Caribbean children.
Brenchwood had a very large Caribbean population. I would think about 40 per cent of the children were Caribbean. I didn’t fit in with them at first, but and I got into a lot of trouble trying to. I got beat up by one black girl who ended up being a good friend, all because I was scared of her at first. But we are friends to this day.
Sharleen’s favourite subjects were home economics, needlework and maths but her teachers decided not to put her forward for 0-levels so she went from school straight to work at Raytech Avionics Ltd. Between 1974 to 1981 was when she had her children.
That was a lovely place to work, I was spoilt rotten… My boss, Mr Street, was my chauffeur at my wedding in his Rolls Royce. He even brought a chauffeur’s hat. He treated me like one of his daughters.