Marjorie Goring uses her serger to create girls’ dresses from fabric donated to the Upper Room Mission, which are then sold as a  fundraiser for the Halina Seniors Centre.

Marjorie Goring uses her serger to create girls’ dresses from fabric donated to the Upper Room Mission, which are then sold as a fundraiser for the Halina Seniors Centre.

From wartime career to labour of love

Marjorie Goring has been sewing since her childhood in England and at 87 is still going strong, making dresses to be sold as a fundraiser

There is always something good you can do for someone.

Marjorie Goring’s spirit has sustained her through 87 years of the joys and sorrows of life. She grew up in Derbyshire, England, in a loving family, with her twin brother the  youngest of nine children.

Sewing was always part of her life as she watched her mother make children’s coats from old army blankets and wooden buttons her father carved. She left school at 14, which was usual at the time, and in 1942 went to work in a factory manufacturing uniforms for the armed services.

“We each did one part, starting with cutting the material and at the end there was a complete uniform with badges. I was so tired after the first day that I fell asleep at the table at tea time with my face down in a plate of fish and chips,” she recalled. “The factory was in the middle of a street with houses on both sides and when Workers’ Play Time, which was a music request show, would come on the radio, we would all sing along and some of the people in the houses would open their windows and sing with us.

“We would sing at other times too. I don’t think you would ever find the friendship and feeling that we had at that factory.”

Goring was thrilled when there was a special visit from film star John Mills, a captain in the army.

“He bent down to me and said, ‘What part of the uniform do you do, dear?’ I said I did the button catches on the flies and he said, ‘That’s the best part of the uniform.’

“I remember that some of the older girls who were doing the little pockets in the jackets would put in a note that said, ‘If single, drop a line. If married, never mind.’ They got lots of letters and some marriages came from that. We always liked it when the older girls would tell us about their dates, especially with the American servicemen.

“I still keep in touch with a few of the friends from those days but so many of them are gone now.”

The good memories remain.

“We’d get the blackout material that was meant for curtains and sew short skirts and knickers so we could go to the dance hall and jitterbug and jive.”

Goring met Ray when they were 16 and he was in the army. They married in 1949 and he became a plumber and pipe fitter. They moved their young family to Canada in 1965 where he continued his trade and they settled in Vernon in 2003. She was a stay-at-home mom and kept sewing for their family and whoever needed her skills.

When her husband developed chronic health issues, Goring went through a time when it was difficult to keep up her usual positive outlook.

“I was depressed. I’d just be curled up on the couch under a blanket feeling woe is me and not knowing what to do. Then one day, the doorbell rang and it changed my life.”

The caller was Christine, a volunteer visitor with volunteer with the Nexus visitor program.

“Chris saw my sewing machine and serger, which I was cleaning up to give away and she told me not to give them away. She said I could make dresses for little girls to sell to help the Halina Centre for seniors.”

Goring liked the idea of using her talent to help others and she started sewing, using new material and trim that had been donated to the Upper Room Mission thrift store and collected for her by Bobbe MacKenzie.

“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate what Chris did for me, getting me sewing again,” said Goring. “When I’m sitting down sewing, I go into another world. I sing a lot — some of the old songs we used to sing at the factory — I Saw You in the Light of 17 Candles — Ray got me that record for my 17th birthday.”

Goring makes the designs for the dresses herself, sparkly fairy princess dresses and practical sundresses with matching hats. The dresses, which are professionally finished to the last detail, always sell immediately.

“I never had a dress like that when I was a little girl. There was no money for pretty dresses. I love it when I go to where they have the live music in the summer at the old library and I see little girls running around and dancing and twirling in the sunlight in the dresses I made. I wish I could make dresses for them all,” she said.

A local gift shop has asked her to make dresses but she has found what she wants to do.

“I’m a volunteer and I’m going to carry on doing this for Halina. It’s a wonderful gift shop. All the volunteers make such beautiful things.

“I think everybody could find some way to do something good as a volunteer. Just think about what you love to do and can do well and how you could use that to help others.”

Donations of new material, thread and trimming can be made directly to Halina Centre (in the Recreation Complex next to the swimming pool). The gift shop is also located there.


Vernon Morning Star