Jean Marshall

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Daughter of Singapore


The extraordinary life of old girl Jean Marshall (nee Gray) has been retold in a Channel News Asia documentary entitled 'Daughters of Singapore' and in a detailed feature in The Straits Times, Singapore's daily broadsheet.

Jean, who turned 90 last month, was born in 1926 and attended Walthamstow Hall in the 1930s. In The Straits Times article Jean credits Walthamstow Hall as having 'fostered an ethos of service rather than imperialism'. After school Jean studied Economics and Sociology at the London School of Economics and then became a medical social worker at the Brompton Chest Hospital in London. It was there, in 1953, that she responded to an advert from the Red Cross recruiting field officers in Malay.

Jean got the job, learned to drive and soon found herself traversing miles of mountainous jungle terrain in a white Land Rover and playing a part in establishing a functioning Red Cross in the area. All of this during what was a turbulent time in Malaya.

Following her contract with the Red Cross Jean applied to the Colonial Office and took up the position of medical social worker in Kuala Lumpur where she was later also appointed to teach the subject. 

Jean went on to marry David Marshall, a prominent lawyer and former Chief Minister of Singapore. At this stage Jean stepped down from her job and took up voluntary work at the Singapore Childrens' Society convalescent home in Changi. Jean and David had four children and in 1978 David became Singapore's first ambassador to France. The couple returned to Singapore where Jean lives to this day. Jean's life-long love of books and contribution to reading in Singapore has earnt her 'Distinguished Reader Status' from the National Library Board, an honour given to slect Singaporeans for their contribution to the national development of reading.

The Straits Times feature

Daughters of Singapore documentary

old girl