Irene Kohler was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1942 to parents who arrived in England, just before the outbreak of War in 1939, refugees from Hitler’s Third Reich. Sadly many of Irene’s extended family did not survive the concentration camps. This meant there was an undercurrent of sadness which pervaded the family throughout her childhood with some topics strictly off limits. In the podcast Irene describes her experience of growing up in a German speaking refugee community in postwar Britain, first in London and then in Coventry.
On leaving school Irene was unsure which path to follow (there wasn’t a good deal of choice for girls in those days) and tried various things before finding the twin passions of her working life, adult education and advocacy, becoming a pioneer in both areas.
On retiring and moving to Salisbury, Irene has not been relaxing in her garden. Instead she rolled up her sleeves and founded the hugely successful Silver Salisbury programme for older people in and around the city. Starting life as Silver Sunday, it has quickly developed into a series of events spanning several weeks and is going from strength to strength with each passing year.
Listen to the podcast to find out more about Irene’s story including women who had inspired her and her hopes for girls today