I still remember the thrill of receiving the news that I had passed the 11+ and would be going to St Josephs College, Blackpool. I had just returned from Ireland and taken the 11+ against the wishes of my primary school, The Sacred Heart, Blackpool. They considered that Ireland was years behind the English education system. I found the exam to be the easiest I had ever taken and was the second person in a class of 40 to finish.

I also remember the pride at wearing my blue blazer with the college badge and its motto 'In Cruce Vita'. My mother was dying of TB and I felt particularly proud for her. Whilst in Ireland, in primary school, I managed to rise to a position within the top 3 out of 40 in St Vincent’s, Glasnevin, a Christian Brothers school. I also learnt their Irish language and could speak it fluently at the age of 10. The Brothers at this school came from the West of Ireland and were all Nationalists. They brainwashed us all towards becoming martyrs for the Republic, as an ambition to be attained by the age of 16. They also educated by fear, which I have to say worked for me. So now back to age 11, well educated, more than able to take on St Josephs College. Why then did I leave it early without a single qualification, and set out to make my own way in the world?

I often reflect on St Josephs College and my time there, and have come to this conclusion: ‘They taught me to forget everything I knew’. The teachers were a mixture of good, bad and ineffective. Among them was at least one paedophile, who must have abused many young boys, but thankfully not me. In my opinion, the majority should not have been allowed to teach, simply because they were ineffective. Some but not all of the Brothers were brutal but, unlike Ireland, they did not achieve learning by fear, just fear. I hated my time at this school and considered it to be a waste of 5 years of my life.

Following my leaving, I had two menial jobs before joining the Royal Air Force, and spent most of my 3 years in Malaya, working as a ground engineer on aeroplanes. I returned to the UK in 1960 and that year joined The British Motor Corporation’s Parts Division in Oxford. Over the years the company evolved into British Leyland, and lately the Unipart Group. When I started at BMC, I was positioned at the bottom of the company, and when I retired in 1998, I was the managing director of a major division and also a main board member.

St Josephs College added nothing to my achievements in life. Business can be a very competitive environment, but working with a good team can make all the difference. My management team, all graduates, were great, and we all stayed together for many years as we progressed up the company.

In conclusion, I visited St Joseph’s College just before it was demolished, a fitting end to a place of bad memories.

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