Janette joined the Royal High School at Barnton in the 1975/76 school year at a time of great change for the school. A few years earlier the school had gone comprehensive and co-educational and the expanded school population now stood at 1,018, including 200 girls. Classrooms were crowded, the assembly hall was used for teaching and 6 temporary classrooms had to be constructed to cope with the numbers.
Despite these problems Janette prospered academically and she developed an interest in languages: French and German. From 1979 onwards the Royal High had strong links with schools in Munich and Janette was heavily involved in the student exchange programme with those schools. Janette was one of the hosts for the German students’ visit to Edinburgh in 1982 and she remained in contact with some of them for the rest of her life. On leaving school, Janette studied at Edinburgh University and graduated with an MA in Linguistics.
After university she had a change of direction and decided to train as a surveyor. Her father had been a quantity surveyor but Janette chose general practice and applied to join the Inland Revenue Valuation Office as a Cadet Valuer. She was sent to the Barking Valuation Office in London where Alan Rolfe was appointed as her tutor. Janette and Alan were married just over a year later. Janette successfully completed her training and qualified as a Member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Her career in the Valuation Office continued at Ilford and later at the Stevenage office where she became a Senior Valuer.
While in London Janette became the first woman to join the Royal High School Club in London. Up until the 1990s the Club had been an all-male institution but there was growing pressure to allow wives and partners to attend Club functions. With Janette’s arrival the all-male traditions of the Club came quickly to an end and spouses, including Alan, were invited to join Club events. Janette went on to serve as the first female President of the Club from 2001-2003, a role she performed for part of the time from her new base in Shetland (see below). In the following years Janette and Alan made regular trips to London to attend the Club’s annual dinners and to visit friends and family.
After several holidays in Shetland, Janette and Alan had decided to move there permanently. Janette initially worked for a local private practice surveyor but later secured a job as a Housing Officer with Shetland Islands Council. In this work she came into contact with many council tenants including some with mental health difficulties and was drawn to assisting some of these folk. She transferred to the Council’s mental health care team and also did some shifts for Shetland Link Up, a small local charity providing a drop in and support service for adults with mental health difficulties. She also completed training as a counsellor at this time. When the coordinator of Shetland Link Up moved away from Shetland, Janette was appointed to take over the day to day running of the charity and she remained as coordinator for ten years until she took early retirement last year.
Janette enjoyed travelling, especially if it meant going even further North than the Shetland Islands. Shetland is closer to the Arctic Circle than it is to London but not close enough for Janette whose favourite holiday destination was Hammerfest, the most northerly town in the world, close to the northern tip of Norway. Janette and Alan visited several times including once at New Year when, of course, the sun doesn’t rise at all. Janette loved the dark and the cold!
She also loved animals, over the years we have had many cats, all black! and Janette also had a dog called Bo-Bo, two Shetland ponies and an Icelandic horse which she rode until a few years ago. There were also various ducks and chickens, currently numbering four of each. From time to time Janette would rescue wild rabbits, a couple of which she had for over eight years, and on at least two brief occasions wild hares.
Janette passed away on the 12th of June 2022. She had been unwell for a couple of years and she finally lost that battle. Janette was a stalwart of the Royal High School Club in London, a trailblazer for women in the Club, and she will be sadly missed. The Club would like to thank Alan Rolfe for his kind contribution to Janette’s obituary.