Heather Aspinall started life in Rugby, Warwickshire, and came to Southampton in 1973 as a twenty-year-old, keen to start her first job in social work. She is now CEO of the Rose Road Association, where they passionately believe that disability should not be a barrier to life, and they give young people and families fun and exciting short break activities and support. She will be retiring in 2017 after 22 years there, and is looking forward to new adventures and fun ahead.
The Qs & the As
What's your link with Bitterne Park?
I’ve lived here since 2005, having ‘crossed the water’ from St. Denys. Before that, I worked here as this was my ‘patch’ as a social worker in the 70s and 80s.
What’s your earliest memory of the area?
Around 1979 onwards, working at the Social Services office in Cobden Avenue, rushing down to Cotton’s the baker for lunch, visiting the children’s home in Thorold Road, driving around the hilly mazes of Midanbury, drinking beer in the Bitterne Park Hotel after running a group for local parents of disabled adults on Wednesday nights. The boat in the garden on Avon Road was there even then, and the house in Newton Road, which gave passers-by intriguing, messages about the state of the world.
How could the area be better?
A funicular installed on Bond Road.
Tell us something we probably didn’t know already about Bitterne Park
The first bridge here was the iron Cobden Free Bridge. Its construction gave the good folk of St. Denys (we now call them the Stdenysters) the opportunity to raid Bitterne Park land for primroses, which led to the ferocious Battles of the Bridge. (Thank you Jim Brown’s History of Southampton’s Suburbs.)
What’s good – or not so good – about the wider city?
Plenty of green spaces, parks, the Common, the river. But bus routes don’t go across the city easily or quickly, you have to go into the city and out again.
What’s your passion in life?
I have many apart from Rose Road – singing, reading, cats, people, gardening. I’m never bored.
How do you put bread on your table?
To quote one of my staff at Rose Road, I have a job worth getting up in the morning for. We work really hard to make sure some of the most vulnerable children in this area have a great life.
What has your career taught you?
Not to be afraid of standing up for what I think is right.
Heather with the Bishop of Southampton and the then mayor of Southampton at a Rose Road Christmas carol concert at St Marys Church
What really gets your goat?
Belittling others and ignorance.
How do you relax?
See passion above! Especially singing in the Waynflete Singers in Winchester. Plus a glass or two of red wine.
Which is your favourite pub?
Sorry Butcher’s Hook, you do come a close second but it is the Junction Inn St Denys – my oldest and dearest local that has seen me in good times and sad.
What are you drinking?
A great Argentinian Malbec or a pint of Perridge Pale.
What do you listen to?
Carole King; Sir Roderick Stewart; Byrd; Tallis; and the supreme champion, Johann Sebastian Bach.
Can you recommend a really good read?
Butterfly’s Shadow by Lee Langley – a step on from Madame Butterfly – what happened to that little boy taken from his Japanese mother and roots to the USA, with a twist in the ending.
What’s a great day out?
Houghton Lodge near Stockbridge. Walled garden, roses, veg beds, meadows, llamas, the River Test, twisty chimneys, great tea room. Just don’t expect any thrilling rides.
Heather with Olympic torch bearer Bruce who visited Rose Road
What scares you?
Referendum (that is the plural) with the media giving out superficial arguments.
What would you most like to change - in the world and in yourself?
In the world – the desire in humans to chop down the rainforests.
In me – the desire to play Candy Crush Saga instead of going for a walk.
What’s on your ‘bucket list’?
I’m really looking forward to having the time when I retire to visit some impressive gardens (like Alnwick Castle) and wild landscapes (the Highlands), to see starling murmurations on the Somerset levels. And precious people who I have not seen enough in the busy years behind me.
Tell us a joke
Daddy did you know that girls are smarter than boys?
No I didn’t.
There you go.
Finally, what would be another great question for other Bitterne Parkers?
Give us three words that describe you.
Thanks so much for taking part.
Tune in next time when another Bitterne Parker answers our searching questions.