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“Here’s to a future of lightbulb moments”: Dorothy Francis MBE’s co-operative journey

In the late 1970s and 80s, I worked as a telephonist for the General Post Office, a public corporation which became British Telecom. It was considered a good gig, especially for a young working class girl from a social housing estate.

A headshot of Dorothy Francis MBE.
Dorothy Francis MBE © The Gazette

People thought you had fallen on your feet if you landed a job at GPO – especially for me as the only black telephonist in a team of 100.

My parents, who worked as labourers, were delighted that I had a white collar job and I went to work in high heels and pencil skirts, rather than overalls and work boots. They saw it as a return on the leap of faith they took when they left Jamaica to help rebuild the UK economy and provide their children with the education that they had missed out on.

The job at GPO was good, with opportunities to climb the ranks, but as time went by I realised that I needed something else.

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