May Willmot – Interview-1998
Retired. Correspondent 30 years for Interavia, a Geneva based international magazine.
16 yrs PR for Canada Lockheed Aircraft Corporation
Willmot was the youngest in a family of four and the only girl. Her mother died when Gladys was born, leaving her to grow up in a male world with her father and three brothers. Housekeepers kept the household running smoothly, but had no further impact on her. Her father, who was Chief Editor at the London Free Press, “was wrapped up in his own mind as he silently composed editorials in his head”. She held her own growing up with three brothers.
All went fine until it was time to choose a career. Her brothers all went to university, and Willmot expected to do the same. Not so, said father. For a woman one year is enough. Se went to a school to learn the finer things about homemaking. “Housekeepers do not necessarily want to teach you cooking”, she adds. After that she spent three years in a hospital to become a nurse. She obtained her RN diploma and worked another three years as a nurse . It was not what she wanted to do.
Willmot always liked writing, but that was not her only passion. She loved planes and flying. So she combined the two. Interavia, a Geneva-based international aviation magazine, published her articles from time to time. One day when she was in Geneva, she looked them up and offered to be their Canadian correspondent. For 30 years she provided them with Canadian aviation news, “presenting it to them the way they wanted it”. This involved research and talking to the people who could provide her with the information she needed.
Willmot does not remember putting much effort in perfecting her craft. Writing came naturally. She grew up among writers, and she married a free-lance writer. While being a PR writer for Lockheed she got an opportunity to learn flying. She loved it. . “It requires a certain attitude”, she says. “You need some courage, but if you are excited about something, you don’t think about it; you just do it”.
With her husband she went to the Press Club and eventually became a member herself. Belonging to the Press Club she felt was an excellent way of making contacts and meeting people with similar interests.
She looks back to an interesting life, in whcich she also had to deal with serious losses: amother she never had the opportunity to know; her elder brother died quite young, and later when she had a family she herself lost a son. She survived it all, she says, and can look back on an interesting life. She is still writing, but now it is for her autobiography.
When you want to write, she said, you find time