She left school at 15 with no qualifications.
But now a Huddersfield woman has taken on the top job at British Mensa, the high IQ society.
Mrs Jenny Gill, 62, of Mount, was appointed as the society’s new chairman at its annual gathering in Cardiff, and said she wanted to revitalise the organisation during her term of office by involving members from all ages and backgrounds.
“I joined the board because I want to make a difference,” she said. “The society has given me a great deal of pleasure and, I know it sounds corny, but I want to give something back.”
Jenny lives in Huddersfield with her husband Peter and has a son Charles, 34. She has been a member of Mensa since 1989 after entering a competition sponsored by the society.
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She said: “I did a competition in Woman, or Woman’s Own – the prize was a holiday, in the days when we couldn’t afford one. Charles was about nine.
“I didn’t win the holiday but I was invited to do a home test, and then the main test.
“My husband was absolutely thrilled to bits and he encouraged me to join.”
She said she valued Mensa for the chance to spend time with people on the same wavelength because, as many people find, a high IQ can leave individuals feeling out of step with those around them.
“It’s like telling jokes and nobody gets the punchline,” she said. “But you can go into a gathering of Mensans and you don’t have to explain yourself. Everybody gets it.”
Once her son had grown up Jenny started to take an active role in Mensa, especially on the communications front.
She has been co-editor of Spotlight, the north-east regional newsletter, for 12 years and had a major role in the re-design of the Mensa Magazine. More recently, Jenny has been the driving force behind a new survey to find out how members want to receive information in the 21st century.
Despite leaving school at 15 with no qualifications, Jenny now has a master’s degree in health management and social care from the University of Huddersfield, prompted by an interest developed while working for the NHS. She now has a private consultancy, specialising in healthcare planning for mental health, including strategic planning and working with design teams interpreting the requirements for the internal planning of mental health units. She is also a director of the Design in Mental Health Network.
Away from work and Mensa, Jenny’s hobbies include cooking and reading, and she admits to being a convert to her Kindle after being sure she would never want to read books electronically.
She said: “I’m working my way through all the free books – if you get halfway through and don’t like it, you just delete it!”
- The only requirement for joining Mensa is that an individual’s IQ falls within the top two per cent of the population.
- Assessment is usually made through a standardised IQ test.
- Mensa tests are not suitable for children aged under 10 and a half years.
- Mensa was founded in Oxford, England in 1946 by Roland Berrill and Dr Lance Ware
- The word Mensa is not an acronym - it is Latin for table. Mensa is a round table society where all members are equal.