With so many people helping me over the years, the task of finding an outstanding individual is difficult.
But let me start in the sixties.
Dragging me, literally by the scruff of my neck, my teachers at the local grammar school pushed me hard. I thank them.
On leaving school, joining the Civil Service on the advice of the careers officer was a bad move. Devoid of any feeling among so many dummies, me being one of them, I couldn’t wait to leave once another job opportunity came along. I learnt a salutary lesson. Politics was definitely not for me.
Initially, working in a bank was not only fun, it was a perfect place to meet people and not converse via letters like my previous job. Passing my exams increased my pay and my status, but unless you were in the old boys’ club, future progress was denied. I hated the system yet had learnt another valuable lesson.
Joining a Building Society gave me hope. The staff were mostly human; even those at head office were only partly alien. Working in the City of London, first as an assistant manager and eventually promoted, I was so proud to have the title – Branch Manager of the Leamington Spa Building Society, London City Office. I loved the job and my staff. Even the long distance travelling didn’t bother me. But when head office politics insidiously crept in to the day to day running of my branch, looking for inspirational people was akin to walking through thick fog. And when you are told your employer had gone bust, by customers queuing at your office door before you opened, all faith in the system instantly disappeared. And, as expected, whilst it was one huge lie about insolvency, nothing could be done. Devoid of leadership, head office caved in. Inspiration was simply a word in a dictionary, nothing more.
On starting a business with someone I barely knew changed my life. Stuart and I ran an asset management company for ten years and never had an argument. Older and wiser than me, his guidance was invaluable, as was his friendship. And after all these years, we remain the best of friends and now live within a few miles of each other. Inspirational he was, and apparently, I was to him.
But being lucky, not once, but three times, my latter years have been rewarding.
My wonderful wife inspires me every day, even though I often try to miss food and water whilst I’m writing. Nowadays, she reads some of my latest short pieces and gives me a mini critique.
Looking back, my life changing moment came after I’d left hospital with a metal knee that squeaked. Going nuts, climbing walls, hallucinating after talking powerful pain killers, my future looked bleak. But the light bulb moment arrived when Teresa suggested, I write my feelings down. I did. They were rubbish but I wanted more.
Joining a new writing group was a lifeline for the future – my raison d'etre. I knew what I wanted in my dotage. Most of the group members had written something before joining. Me? I could write an excellent business letter, but a story? No! Never!
But when someone believes in you, encourages you, even gently cajoles you, you want to prove them right. I believe I did, and I will continue to do so until my final breath.
Without your help, Carol, my life would have taken a very different road.
Thus, I say this. Stuart Hopkins, Teresa Haynes and Carol Westron, take a bow for being such an inspirational team.
I love you all.
P.S. And how could I forget the amazing help and advice from all of you lovely people. Your critique and friendship means more to me than you could ever imagine.
I thank you all.