Monthly Meeting – Tuesday 10 th February 2015
Talk by Sandra Simmonds - Experiences after Iran

This was the third talk by Sandra who joined the Wrens at 17 ½. During her service she met an Iranian Chief Petty Officer and they later married in this country.

Sandra and her husband moved to Iran where they were required to live under strict Muslim rules, which included Sandra having to wear the chador. After the Iranian revolution in 1978/79, when the Shah was replaced by Ayatollah Khomeini, they managed to escape and return to England.

When Sandra’s grandparents were going away it was agreed that Sandra and her husband would move into their home temporarily to sort out their future plans. However, finance was a big problem for Sandra as all her savings were in her husband’s name in a bank account in Switzerland and she didn’t have access to it. Sandra also found it hard to get a job because of her Muslim name.

Her husband took money from their ‘joint’ savings in Switzerland and bought a flat, in his own name, in Cheltenham for cash. Although he did ask Sandra to come to Cheltenham to live with him it was on the understanding that she would become a devout Muslim. Sandra found this unacceptable and requested a divorce on the grounds that after nearly 7 years the marriage had broken down. Her husband would not agree to this. It took several years for him to agree to the divorce and only after Sandra agreed to accept his offer of £1000. In the meantime her husband had bought a house in Gloucester, again for cash.

This all took quite a toll on Sandra and during a bout of depression she was encouraged by her family to take up jogging. She completed 2 marathons and as a reward was given £3000 by her family.

Feeling a bit better and with some money behind her she moved to Portsmouth to start a new life, joined the Royal Naval Reserve and started a job at the Social Security. In 1992 she was married and had a son but in 1998 was widowed at age 41.

Sandra gives talks to all groups - her motto is: ‘Life is for Living’. She hopes to write a book on her life one day and visit Iran, so there could be a talk number 4 in the future.

Patrick Smyth Quester 6