My time at school was between 1975 and 1980, and I was a boarder despite living
fairly close by in Bloxham. My father had suffered a stroke several years earlier, making
life difficult for all of us, so I was despatched to Sibford.
In those days our education was about more than the three R’s – but having said
that I could have done with someone teaching me how to properly iron a shirt (anyone
who was after me in the laundry room will attest to my ineptitude with the iron!).
The Quaker ways were subtle in some ways and routine in others, I remember my
Mum saying that she was always impressed at how the whole school would be silent at
the start of meetings, plays, or concerts for those few moments.
The teachers all had an effect on how we grew up – some more than others, a few that
come to mind are Mr Shields and Mr Jarvis – probably the reason that I went into
engineering, and Mr Sagar for arranging visits to various companies in 5th form.
Our careers officer had persuaded me that I wouldn’t be able to be a helicopter
pilot (something to do with being a girl!) so I decided to go into engineering, and was
offered a four year apprenticeship with IMI Norgren. As their first girl apprentice –
something that I didn’t actually think about at the time – it must have been quite difficult
for the men who taught me. I’m still (30 plus years later) the only ‘girl’ who completed the
4 years there. It’s a shame that more girls were not encouraged to take up this interesting
career. Having been told that ‘I wasn’t good enough for A levels’ at school, I took my ONC
and HNC ending up in Research and Development.
A couple of years after my apprenticeship I got the wanderlust, doing a couple of
overland trips, through the African continent first, and Asia and the Middle East after.
These were fascinating times, and I look at some of the places I visited, and have
photographs of, knowing that after the past few years they will be quite different, if they
still exist. I’m so glad that Mum encouraged me to go when we talked of it, I saw life in a
very different way, some of it good, some of it not so.
After getting my travelling out of my system, I ended up down in Hampshire,
working for the next 11 years in a few different roles from Development Engineer, to Sales
Engineer to Engineering Buyer. Industry was changing, and several redundancies later, I
had had enough and set out on my own, doing lawn mowing and gardening. Another few
years at college was in order and an RHS Certificate and HNC in Horticulture joined my
1996 saw me married to Terry, who has managed to put up with my “why don’t you
do it like this” comments when doing something to his Frogeye Sprite, a legacy of my
training. Going to car shows was traded for airshows – yes I’m still nuts about helicopters!
Since childhood I had been taken to steam fairs, so was very aware of the
wonderful steam traction engines that were on the show circuit. Recently I somehow
managed to get involved with helping to run a fabulous McLaren agricultural engine, this
led me to start and run a company which sells miniature (Quarter, third and half size)
traction engine castings and machining services. It is due to this that I have gone back to
my engineering roots, and have enjoyed the ‘regression’, including starting to use
machines I last used 25 plus years ago. It goes to say that a good training in whatever
your chosen career is, will stand you in the best stead.
Old Scholars has been a part of my life before – in the 90’s for several years, and
now. I truly believe that keeping in touch is very much a two way thing – between School
and Old Scholars, for those that wish it.
I hope to see some more of my contemporaries this year especially, but in subsequent
years too. To quote an elderly advert “It’s good to talk”.