Adoption is a theme running through Alison Austin’s life and as the town prepares to adopt her as our next mayor we take a closer look at the life of the borough’s next first citizen...
Alison was adopted as a baby, has an adopted sister and has adopted three children herself and the town will this month adopt her as the 480th Mayor of Boston.
Describing herself as ‘a product of the war’ she was born in Essex in 1943, but came to Kirton aged only a few months old as the adopted daughter of Dr and Mrs Hardwick, who also adopted another daughter, 18 months older.
Alison’s father, Dr Hardwick was the village doctor from 1928 until his death in 1957, when she was just 13.
His memory lives on in the village with Hardwick Road and the Hardwick Estate being named after him.
Her parents had married in 1938, her mother Mollie (Rosalind Mary) being daughter of Dr C.W. Pilcher, of Boston.
Alison was educated until she was 11 at Miss Green’s ‘dame’ school – a room in her home. She passed her 11-plus aged only 10 and moved up to Boston High School for Girls.
Having passed her O-levels and A-levels she went to the University of Wales in Cardiff where she graduated with an honours degree in mathematics.
Before finishing her degree, romance blossomed. In her second year Alison gained a summer job working in the Ministry of Agriculture’s entomology laboratory and met Richard, agricultural adviser for Holbeach Marsh. After just a three-week courtship, they were engaged, Richard having taken her to the top of Boston Stump to propose marriage.
Aged just 21 – Richard was 28 – Alison had a year left to finish her degree. They married two years later, in July, 1966, and lived in West End Road, Wyberton, by which time Alison had started teaching maths at Sleaford High School. After two years there she taught for another two years at Boston High School before taking seven years off to raise their adopted children, Lucy, now 42, Christopher, 41, and William, 37. They have five grandchildren.
As their children took part in activities, Alison found herself volunteering to keep the local Brownie pack going and was Brown Owl for 15 years. She was also active in the Ladies’ Circle and Wyberton Parish Church and, for a while, took around Meals on Wheels.
They moved to their current home in Low Road 36 years ago. More recently, Alison and Richard turned their hand to landscaping their extensive garden. They share their home with Archie, a ginger cat.
Alison went back to teaching part-time at Sleaford, staying for six years, before moving to teach at Boston Grammar School. She stayed there for fourteen-and-a-half years before taking early retirement in 1999.
Alison likes challenges and gained a first-class Open University degree in human geography aged 63.
Her life took another turn when she was persuaded, despite early resistance, to stand for election to Boston Borough Council. Led by Richard, the Boston Bypass Independent party swept to power at borough level in 2007.
Last year she was also elected to Lincolnshire County Council as a Lincolnshire Independent.
In 1999 Alison decided she needed something more to do with her life and made up her mind to volunteer as a charity shop worker - but found herself at homelessness charity Centrepoint Outreach, volunteering in the drop-in.
“Every one of these is someone’s son or someone’s daughter. It could be our son. It is so easy these days to be in this situation – a relationship breakdown or a loss of employment, especially without the backing of family, can end this way,” she said,
Alison is a director of the charity and for three years was chairman.
She has selected Centrepoint Outreach to be one of her two Mayor’s Charities. The other will be the Gateway Club, part of Boston Mencap - this choice being influenced by her younger grandson having Down’s Syndrome.
Richard will be her consort and Coun Helen Staples will be Deputy Mayoress, supported by Sue Still.