A former war worker in Jamaica, Connie Mark is remembered as an inspirational campaigner and for her efforts to champion Caribbean culture through her poetry and story-telling
The daughter of a railway clerk, Constance (‘Connie’) Winifred Mark (née McDonald) was 19 when she decided to contribute to the war effort by joining the women’s wing of the British Army, the Auxiliary Territorial Service, in Kingston, Jamaica.
The Caribbean was a theatre of war with German U-boats regularly torpedoing British ships. As a medical secretary in the British Military Hospital, her duties included typing the reports of horrific combat injuries. After six months’ service she was promoted to lance corporal and six months later to corporal, only to find on both occasions she’d been denied a pay increase, a situation she protested about in no uncertain terms.
Connie married Jamaican fast bowler Stanley Goodridge in 1952. He won a contract to play cricket for Durham in the north of England and she joined him in November 1954 with their baby daughter; a son was born in 1957. The couple later separated and she married Michael Mark in London in 1977.
In Britain Connie became well known for her formidable contributions to a range of charitable, community and educational projects, including the Mary Seacole Memorial Association, which she helped to found. In order to highlight the part, the Caribbean played in the war effort, particularly the role of women like herself, she became an active member of West Indian Ex-Services Association (now the West Indian Association of Service Personnel).
Such efforts led the Voice newspaper to list Connie Mark among eight black women who have contributed most to the development of Britain in celebration of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in 2018, while London’s Evening Standard named her as one of 14 “inspirational black British women throughout history”.
Connie’s pride in her Caribbean heritage was reflected in her poetry and story-telling, which she saw as a way of inspiring young people. To this end she became a patron of Descendants, an organisation aimed at supporting youngsters of African and Caribbean descent.
In the 1993 New Year Honours, she was awarded the British Empire Medal for meritorious service during the war and honoured by The Queen with an MBE in the 2000 New Year Honours list for her service to the community. Connie died in 2007 at the age of 83.