Poetry book tells life story of former WWII plane spotter

The poetry collection had remained largely intact in a box guarded by her family since the death of Betty Irene Drayton (née West) in 2003.

That was until last year when they came into Helen’s possession.

“My dad died of Covid last September and when he died the poems came to me,” says Helen.

Helen Pearson has collected a book of poems written by Better Irene Drayton, pictured here during World War II.

“I knew she loved getting them published and I thought rather than sitting them in a box in my loft and wondering what to do with them, I think I’ll put a few together in a little pamphlet to give away. to family and friends.

“That idea grew and grew and became a book.”

The Called Life Library features a collection of Betty poems compiled by Helen.

Along with photographs and short stories, Helen uses them to create a biography of her mother’s life.

The Library Called Life is a biography of Betty Irene Drayton, pictured here in the 1950s, told through her poems.

Born in Lincolnshire in 1925, Betty was 13 when she had her first poem published locally.

She had written Heaven at school in just 30 minutes.

“Heaven is how much she marveled at life,” Helen says. “Heaven for her, at that age, was all about nature – flowers and birds, as well as sunsets and stars.

“Somehow this poem was printed in the New Zealand Methodist Times of February 1955.”

During her life she was a lay preacher, shorthand teacher, nurse and midwife.

She moved to Sheffield, where several members of her family lived, to train as a nurse, then to Leeds where she qualified as a midwife.

The various chapters of Betty’s life have inspired many of her poems.

She put pen to paper to express her feelings for her childhood sweetheart, from whom she separated during the war, for example.

Other writings reflect her faith – she had a solid Christian upbringing – or draw inspiration from her home and nature.

“She loved the signs of spring and especially the snowdrops, but hated the winter,” says Helen, who lives in Louth. “Only very occasionally did she write to or about someone in her life.”

“The book contains poems that relate to part of his philosophy of life,” continues Helen, “like compromise, courage, and honesty.

“She was also a great advocate for life today, as her poems demonstrate.”

The Called Life Library is now available, available for purchase through Amazon.

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