Centenarian Win Campbell has travelled to every corner of the globe as part of The News travel club. She talks to James Butler about her trips.
Win Campbell’s home in Portchester is filled with ornaments she has picked up during the 75 years she has lived there.
But tucked away in her sideboard is a collection that is priceless.
Eleven albums with hundreds of photographs, including a daring snap taken above the Niagara Falls, tell the story of Win’s travels around the world.
‘I did it so that when I was 100 I could look back on my different trips,’ says Win.
‘But now I am 100 and my eyesight isn’t so good, I can’t see them properly.
‘It is a lovely keepsake though.’
From 1977 until 1994, Win, who celebrated her milestone birthday earlier this year, was a part of The News travel club.
When she joined it was called The News Women’s Circle and catered to female readers and their husbands. While Win was a member, it was also called The News Travel Circle and The News Reader Club.
After retiring from work at the Post Office aged 60 in 1975, Win’s first trip abroad was a weekend to Belgium two years later.
‘I wasn’t interested in travelling abroad before retiring,’ says Win. ‘I just fancied it all of a sudden, seeing what Belgium was like. That was the beginning.’
At her first Women’s Circle meeting, Win met a familiar face from work. She says:
‘It was a get together for us to be told what the weekend would be like. I was sitting in the hall and there was a man sat behind me with his wife. He tapped me on the shoulder and said “Hello, don’t remember me do you?”
‘I said I didn’t, and then he said Tetleys tea and I remembered. He used to come into the Post Office in Gosport to send money to Tetley, his firm.’
Over the next 17 years, Win visited almost every continent with the travel club. She went to Florida, New Zealand, Australia, India, Singapore, Mexico, Canada, Iceland, Kenya, South Africa, Jamaica, Hawaii and Norway.
‘The only continent I haven’t been to is Antarctica, but that would be too cold for me,’ Win jokes.
On the way to Acapulco in 1989, Win and her friends Gladys and Joan (pictured above) had a bit of a soaking.
‘We were in the dining room of our hotel and suddenly it poured with rain and came into the resataurant. We had to grab our handbags and move away from the windows because it was coming in so bad.
‘I went to sit on a settee in the lounge and I was told not to sit there because it was completely soaked through like a sponge.’
In 1984 Win went on a tour of the United States. For a 15-day, all-inclusive trip, Win’s deposit was only £50.
She remembers the weather got the better of her again when she went to explore with her friends.
‘The four of us went for a walk and we saw this old hotel and wanted to go inside.
‘When we came out again it was raining very heavily and we were up to our ankles in water.
‘We got back to our hotel and we were sat around laughing. If we hadn’t been so nosey we wouldn’t have got wet.’
Win’s curiosity, coupled with her trusty camera, led to the hundreds of photographs she has today.
She took many in spectacular settings, including a rope bridge over a gorge in the Rockies on a trip to Canada.
She says: ‘I was with Linda Goldstone from The News who organised the trips and I was trying to take a photograph looking down. The travel agent was with us as well and he was rocking the bridge.
‘Linda told him off because I was taking a snap.’
She adds: ‘A lot of the views I saw were fantastic, but when we were travelling in the coach I missed a lot of it because I couldn’t keep my eyes open.’
Her most daring photograph was taken from a helicopter during a ride over the Niagara Falls in Canada.
‘It was marvellous. It is a thing you can’t really describe.
‘When the helicopter turned for you to see over the falls, it felt as though you were going to fall out.
‘Afterwards we went down and walked under them.’
On the same trip, Win took her chances on a viewing platform suspended over a large whirlpool.
‘It was something you wouldn’t have liked to have fallen into,’ she says.
While in Iceland, she experienced another force of nature – the Strokkur geyser – but turned down the chance to swim in the country’s famous hot springs.
‘I could have gone in and I like swimming, but I wouldn’t have liked to have been wet all the way back.
‘Also, there were pools of water filled with sulphur and it smelt awful.’
In Singapore, Win visited Raffles Hotel and took a trip in a rickshaw.
‘That was really funny,’ she says. ‘At traffic lights they would shoot over quickly before the lights had a chance to change.’
Her final long haul trip abroad with The News was to Mauritius in 1994, aged 79.
‘It was a great experience. I never dreamed to do such a thing. I didn’t think I would ever have the courage to go on an aeroplane.
‘But yes, it is something I can look back on and say that I really enjoyed.
‘Some places I would have gone back to. I liked New Zealand for one thing. And Australia, and Canada.’
As Win thinks back to her travels, she pauses and continues, but now in the present tense.
‘I would like to go to a different part of Madeira.
‘I went before with my brother and sister, but I would like to be nearer to the town because I love shopping.’
Win’s adventuring days aren’t behind her just yet.
As well as taking thousands of photographs, Win wrote diaries to accompany each trip. The image on the left is an account of her trip to St Lucia in 1985, including the flight, what she ate and her night’s sleep.
A diary entry from Win’s visit to South Africa included her experience of the Victoria Falls. It reads:
‘We had marvellous views of the Victoria Falls, they were certainly spectacular. The main falls spread for 1800 metres, far larger than Niagara [Falls].
‘We were advised to take rainwear with us, and we certainly needed it. We had quite a walk before reaching the falls and as we walked along the spray was so heavy that for a while if felt as though we were in heavy rain. The strength of the water as it rushes down causes the exceptional amount of spray. We only then realised why our guide advised macs.’
Another account detailed her encounter with a furry friend in Sydney, pictured above. It reads:
‘We went to the Featherdale Wildlife Park, which originally started as a chicken farm. We visited the koalas first and they seemed a lovely cuddly animal. There was one who was holding on tightly to a cuddly koala toy, and we were allowed to hold this one to be photographed with. Goodness knows what I will look like if it comes out.’