My book comes from the heart ...

editorial image

The saying goes that everyone has one book in them - and Jan Smeaton has proved that point.

When the 72-year-old from Larbert started thinking of her life and the stories she would pass down to her four granddaughters, she realised there was easily memories to fill it.

Now she has just had her autobiography, ‘Just Jan’, published, detailing her life from birth to the present day.

Jan said: “The idea to do a book actually came from a teacher I worked with in Kazakhstan who suggested I write down my experiences in the country.

“But I didn’t seriously consider publishing anything until a work colleague offered to type up the manuscripts.”

Jan’s book is a warts and all account of her life, detailing health difficulties, divorce and money troubles, as well as highlights such as her family – children Neil, Suzanne and Tracey and granddaughters Julia (13), Hannah (11), Lucy (10) and Ellie (6) – and her varied career.

After her divorce, Jan found herself facing serious financial problems but progressed to be an operations manager in a catering company and worked and travelled all over the world.

During a stint in Kazakhstan with British Gas, she saw the extreme poverty faced by many in the landlocked country and fundraised to bring a group of children and teachers over to the UK for an educational holiday.

She continued the scheme for 10 years, allowing 104 kids to see what life in Britain is like.

After several false starts at retiring, Jan eventually stopped working with Commercial Catering this year and also ended her volunteering with Strathcarron Hospice in Fankerton after nine years on reception.

Jan, who now lives in Lundin Links in Fife, began writing her book at the start of 2009 and completed it in October the follow year.

She explained: “I just wrote when I felt like it really and, when it was done, I gave it to someone in my writing group to read to see what she thought. What I didn’t know is that she was a copy writer in a past life and she pushed for me to find a publisher and get it out there.

‘‘But that wasn’t my intention when I started writing, it was just memoirs to be passed down to my grandchildren.

“It wasn’t until the book was printed in black and white that I thought to myself that there was a lot of very 
personal information in there, but I hope it gives hopes to others.

‘‘I’ve had a lot to deal with in my life, I was born with a disability, have been through divorce, money difficulties and even had a brush with the KGB during my time in Kazakhstan and none of this has held me back.

“I’ve not given the book to my grandaughters yet to read, I think I’d like to wait until they are a little older as there are some things in there that I’m not sure I want them to know just yet.

“I’m really glad I wrote it. As well as it being my personal story, it gives a good insight into the social history of the time and growing up in Larbert.”

You can purchase ‘Just Jan’ from The Falkirk Herald also has five copies to giveaway. To enter send a postcard marked ‘Just Jan’ to The Falkirk Herald, Unit 4A, Gateway Business Park, Grangemouth FK3 8WX, before noon on Friday, October 26.