We Are Chesterfield: “I’ve lived here all my life and I’ve no desire to live anywhere else. It’s like a big village where you know a lot of people"

“My husband says if they broke me in half I’d be like a stick of rock and have Chesterfield runningthrough me,” said Viv Miller.

Monday, 15th March 2021, 4:38 pm
Viv, left, wearing a dress from Bobby Cousins boutique at the Aquarius nightclub in Chesterfield.

“I’ve lived in Chesterfield all my life and I’ve no desire to live anywhere else. It’s like a big village where you know a lot of people.”

Born 66 years ago to Ronald and Marjorie Barker at their home in St Augustines Avenue, Viv recalls a happy childhood growing up with older brother Elvin.

She said: “You played with your friends in the street. In those days St Augustines Avenue had trees and lampposts and we used to play rounders across the road. We had a dog that never went on a lead; Mum used to shout the dog and whichever yard the dog came out of she knew that’s where we were playing.”

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Viv and her mum Marjorie Barker

Viv went to Manor School then continued her education at Chesterfield Technical College where she studied O-levels and A-levels, shorthand and typing.

She honed her office skills in a number of jobs which included secretary to the chief officer at Chesterfield Fire Station and an admin post at Chesterfield Golf Club.

Viv returned to college after raising her children, initially to learn word processing and later for a degree course in management studies. She said: “I studied for the degree part-time and graduated when I was 50.”

In her mid-fifties, she was appointed secretary to the Mayor of Chesterfield. Viv said: “When you’re working for the first citizen you feel like you’ve got the best job in the borough.

Viv Miller, left, in Coun Maureen Hawksworth's year as Mayor of Chesterfield.

“The phone would ring and it would be someone wanting the mayor to open a shop, attend a Guide meeting, or the Lord Lieutenant’s office saying there might be a Royal visit.

“I loved the civic ceremonies, the Mayor’s Parade and the Remembrance Day parade. The ones I most enjoyed were the homecoming parades for the regiments when we had the Mercians and the 9/12 Lancers being given the freedom of the borough.”

A highlight of her work in the civic office included a reception for the Duke of Devonshire to commemorate his grandfather laying the foundation stone of the town hall. Viv said: “Another high spot was when we got involved in a scheme to get shops, taxi cabs, and pubs to put up stickers in their windows to say the military was welcome.”

Viv and her husband Bill joined the Chesterfield branch of the Royal British Legion 13 years ago, at a time when son Andrew was serving in Afghanistan. Viv later became Poppy Appeal organiser and her voluntary work has been honoured with two county awards.

Viv is pictured with Coun Gordon Simmons, mayor of Chesterfield, at the launch of the 2019 poppy appeal which raised £58,000.

Living in Hasland, Bill and Viv have four children and four grandchildren and are keen scuba divers. Viv played netball for the Taptonians for many years and now runs the team with her friend Janice Ballam.

When asked what she misses about the Chesterfield of old, Viv said: “I miss the market how it used to be. It was always thronged on Saturday afternoons. I remember when my son David was a baby, you couldn't get onto the market with a pram.

“I miss the independent retailers. I loved Bobby Cousins, a boutique that has long gone. Shoes, handbags, and clothes, I’ve always loved them. Blanc on Chatsworth Road is my favourite now.”

Viv was awarded the Wells trophy for her voluntary work as Poppy Appeal organiser.