Inspirational stories – Judy Wingrove

Some people make such an impact on our lives that we are never, ever the same.

Judy is one of those.

Thanks to Judy many childless women and men in the UK have childless friends.

Thanks to Judy they know they’re not alone.

Thanks to Judy there’s an organisation called MTL

So as you’re reading this, she’s had an impact on yours too. Because without the support and friendships I made through MTL I wouldn’t be doing this.

So thank you Judy.

Judy Wingrove 2Judy set up the first group in the world for those who are childless and this became MTL.

What she’s too modest to say in her story is there was a time when ISSUE (which became INUK) wanted to close MTL and, to put it bluntly Judy wouldn’t let them. She knew how important MTL was to members and stood her ground, stepping in and running it herself for three years. She fought and worked very hard to keep it going.

For three years she did everything, she singlehandedly wrote to members, set up regional groups and contacts, telephoned and met members personally, arranged meet ups and weekends away and sent out newsletters from home. And remember, this was in the days before websites and forums.

This connection was a lifeline – a first, priceless contact with another member. She gave this gift to hundreds of members, the wonderful gift of knowing they were not alone. This gift of finding someone else who knows what it’s like to walk in their shoes.

And she didn’t stop there. Thanks to her work MTL grew, INUK realised the value and took MTL back under their wing, and for a further ten years she carried on working tirelessly for many hours a week, also sitting twice as a Trustee and setting up the MTL Steering Group.

Judy had a vision, she knew how important it was to create an environment for men and women, not just women.

Personally we’ve met some wonderful people through MTL. Over the years we’ve healed and grown together and some of them are now our closest friends. For us, being able to do this as a couple was essential. Our lives changed so much the day we attended our first MTL get together. In fact this photo was taken at a wedding, attended by sixteen of us who’ve known each other for ten plus years, thanks to Judy.

So Judy on behalf of all those childless women and men whose lives have been changed because of your vision and dedication, I thank you. It is an honour to call you my friend.

And because she is special, her story is told in a different way, exactly as she wrote it.

Over to Judy

Judy WingroveThis year the Queen is turning 90 and I will be turning 70.  Well, actually I will be turning 69 but let’s call it 70 in this article. The Queen, in her last Christmas speech, said that having a long life enabled one to look back. The Queen looks back at her children, grandchildren and now great grandchildren.

I don’t have children, grandchildren and great grandchildren but I do look back on my life, in decades, reflecting on the good decades and the bad decades which I would like to share with you.  Every age mentioned below is my age at the time, not the age of anyone else.

AGED 0 – 10

Living at home with an unloving, uncaring mother, a father and a sister.

AGED 10 – 20

Aged 14, mother decides she has had enough of family life and goes off to live elsewhere. Father tries his best and we have happy times together playing table tennis, playing cards and going to Lords and Oval to watch cricket. (I still love cricket to this day!)  Aged 17, start working in London and living in a girls’ hostel in London.  Aged 18, sister marries and father remarries.  Aged 19, father dies.  I’m on my own now.

AGED 20 – 30

Emigrate to Australia!  A very happy decade down under.  Love the Aussies and their easy manner.  Work every day but in a variety of jobs including office work, shop work, cleaning work and factory work.

AGED 30 – 40

Aged 30, return to England.  Another good decade. See my sister and enjoy meeting her four young children.  Also enjoy meeting up with old London work-mates, one of whom asks me to marry him! Aged 36, husband gets a work transfer to America and we have three very happy years living in the States.

AGED 40 – 50

Aged 40, we return to England from the States. This is the worst decade of my life. I miss my American friends and my happy life in America. I have no family back in England, both parents are gone and I have no children.  My marriage has produced no children but I am ready to become a mother. I want a child.

I have so much love in me to give to a child of my own that I feel as if I am bursting. I dream that I am pregnant or that I have just given birth and I am holding my very own baby. A wonderful feeling when I wake up, for five seconds, then the bubble bursts and reality sets in, a sad, lonely, depressing reality. Husband tries his best to be empathetic but it is not his style, he is a problem-solver, a get-up-and-go man and he can’t really understand my deep-rooted sadness.

I wonder if anyone understands my sadness, another woman perhaps? I am hurting so much but it is the hurt that drives me on.  I put an advertisement in a local newspaper and get a response.  Great!  There is someone else out there. I write articles in magazines and get more responses. I now know several who are childless like me and I start a self-help group for the childless.

AGED 50 -60

I wonder how to develop this self-help group further and contact a national organisation which helps couples going through fertility treatment. Yes, they say, treatment is successful for some but, sadly, not for all. Yes, they say, we will take on your small group and turn it into a national organisation but we need your help as a volunteer.

Yes, I say, I want to be that volunteer and so MORE TO LIFE, the support group for the childless, is born. And so follows a decade and a half of volunteering for MTL, a time during which MTL goes from strength to strength. As a volunteer, I am meeting MTL members up and down the country, wonderful, wonderful people, so warm and caring, so friendly and welcoming, and interesting too! They come from different areas, from different backgrounds and have different jobs. They are so interesting to meet and listen to. I am still childless but my life has been enriched.

AGED 60 – 70

A decade in which I already start to reflect back and cherish the friendship of the lovely MTL members. Aged 66, I step down from my role as a volunteer for MTL. Still married to the same lovely guy but how we’ve both changed over the years! Husband, in his retirement, has more time to think about empathy and is much more empathetic while I am much more “get up and go.” I don’t want to sit around and mope.

For years mothers have been telling me how lucky I am to have so much freedom.  Then I didn’t want the freedom, I wanted a child, but now I have come to love my freedom.

AGED 70 – 80? 90? 100?

I never thought I would get to a stage when I would be looking forward to the last decade(s?) of my life, a time when I will enjoy being free, a time when I can choose exactly what I want to do. The world is my oyster and I can’t wait!

Would you like to thank Judy? If so please add a comment below (you don’t have to use your own name).

17 thoughts on “Inspirational stories – Judy Wingrove”

  1. Judy, you have been an inspiration to me that’s for sure. Your kind voice on the end of the phone when I first joined MTL and your encouragement to get involved in helping others will stay with me forever. Thank you for sharing your amazing story, and for being so full of energy and determination to help others.

  2. Thank you Judy for all your hard work over many years. Your story is amazing and very moving. You have helped countless women and men. It’s lovely to read that the world is your oyster.

  3. Dear Judy, I will remember forever the first time we met. To know that you understood exactly how I felt was such a huge relief. To know that I wasn’t losing the plot but grieving for my loss helped me to turn a corner I just couldn’t see. I can never thank you enough for all your love, support and advice over the years.

  4. Judy you are an inspirational lady to so many of us. I have talked to you a number of times about your interesting life story and am proud of you that you have written it down for all to see. MTL was our lifesaver and you were part of that all the way along.

  5. Thank you so much Judy for everything that you have done to inspire others in the same situation. You have helped much more than you will ever know. Bless you xx

  6. Judy the day you hopped on a train and travelled miles out to the countryside to comfort me – a complete stranger who was struggling with childlessness was the start of something which has transformed my life and that of my partner too. Words will never do. I am so blessed to have my MTL family. Lifelong friendships to cherish. You did that and I thank you from the depths of my heart.

  7. Dear Judy,
    I will always remember the day when I first met you at St Pancras station, my first ever MTL meeting and feeling so alone. You took me under your wing and let me release all the pain I was feeling, about my childlessness. I felt so relieved to meet up with a group of women in the same circumstance. To know that I was not the only one feeling this intense pain. You helped me grieve and make me feel confident about standing up to those who may say things that hurt .
    I have made some lifelong friends through MTL and it is great to meet , when there are trigger times in life. Thank you so much Judy for all your hard work in raising awareness of our situation.
    Kind regards,

  8. Thank you Judy for all the wonderful work you have done and for the never-ending support you have provided. You are an inspiration to so many.

  9. Judy you have done so much for people who couldn’t have children. Through your pain you creatived a place where we all could go and express our feelings, meet others in our situation and not feel alone in the world. You’re an inspiration and voice to the world. What you have done for me is to show me there is a more positive future and to bring me into contact with others in my situation. I have had the honour to meet you a few times and have seen your passion to help others. I wish you the very best for the future.

  10. You have been a great enabler for many of us and helped us met and bond in friendship. Although social media is now good, it was not in 2001. I so enjoyed the meetups you arranged around the country, enabling new people in different regions to find others in their area and feel less isolated. You’ve done many other roles behind the scenes and I look forward to our friendship continuing in our 60s, 70s and beyond.

  11. Judy, we have never met but your legacy is felt and cherished by all that follow you. Thank you for leading the way and supporting so many. Jessica x

  12. A truely inspirational lady. Thanks for creating MTL and for fighting so hard to keep it afloat. I would have been lost without it.

  13. Dear Judy when we finished our (unsuccessful) fertility treatment all those years ago, what I have done without MTL? I can’t imagine. It truly was a llifesaver. I’ve met so many wonderful people through MTL (including you of course!) and realised that I’m not alone. Thank you seems inadequate but THANK YOU.
    Caroline D

  14. I will always be indebted and deeply grateful to Judy for MTL.
    Without MTL and the friends we have made we would have been lost and really struggled.
    It always seems to me that what matters in life is what we do with our time and how we affect other people.
    Judy through her efforts has touched so many lives for the better in a way that few of us ever do.

  15. Thank you all for your wonderful and inspirational comments.
    If anything Judy’s story shows that we don;t have to have children to leave our mark on the world and to make such a positive difference to many, many people.


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