Geraldine Beare (1964 – 1968)

Alumna, Geraldine Beare

To continue our series of alumni articles, we’re pleased to share the story of Geraldine Beare who attended our school from 1964 when it was known as Lowestoft Grammar School, and left in 1968.

She told us that when she first began school life here it wasn’t a particularly happy time, “even though I was bright enough and perfectly capable, I wasn’t very studious and didn’t take a lot of interest in learning and I had little understanding from the majority of teachers at the time.”

Geraldine continues, “Having scraped through the 11 Plus taken at St Margaret’s Junior School shortly after my father died, I had the daunting task of following in the footsteps of my rather studious and academic sister.

“On my first day I arrived in my new school uniform not knowing where to go and not knowing anybody at all! I was not a confident child and I was scared of everything and everyone. The teachers in their black gowns flowing through the corridors frightened the life out of me and unlike today they were very aloof and unfriendly. We had to stand immediately on teachers’ arrival in the classroom and there was no talking unless spoken to! There really was no fun in any of the lessons.

“My attention span was very low and I got bored very easily. I hated having any attention brought to me and dreaded being chosen to speak out loud or asked questions for fear of looking silly or being laughed at.

“I disliked History, Biology, English Literature and religious studies! They bored me to tears and I had no interest whatsoever. Maths, English and even French I could tolerate and I did my best in.

“Cookery, Needlework and all sports I loved, even though I had the worst, most scary teacher ever… Miss Murray! I doubt you will hear anyone say anything different about her.

“There is a moral, to come from my story, which I hope may mean something to some young people out there. Basically, to cut a long story short, go with subjects you enjoy or are good at.

“The skills my teachers taught me in maths and English have been invaluable to me throughout my life. From becoming a very young parent and helping my own children with their school work, feeling confident to write my own CVs, job applications, filling out forms and writing important letters and sorting out numerous queries life throws at you.

“Basic French has helped me in numerous holidays abroad in France! I can’t speak a lot of French but what I learned I have never forgotten and it has helped me get by.

“Taking part in sport and learning to be competitive is a good lesson in life. I held the record for long jump and represented Suffolk in the County Sports. I played hockey for the school team, enjoyed tennis, learnt to swim and ride a bike confidently. All of these things have helped me enjoy life to the full and keep fit through the years.

“Cookery lessons with the dreaded Miss Murray set me in good stead when I was a housewife and mother and the numerous birthday parties and Christmas celebrations I have catered for.

“And lastly, sewing lessons again with Miss Murray… When my children were young I made their little dresses, I made curtains for my first home and re-upholstered old chairs; I was always making something out of nothing. I worked from home until all four of my children had left school using the skills learnt at school, setting up an internal window blind business which included all orders from Waveney District Council. After a few years, it became too big and I needed to expand premises, at which stage I decided to sell the business which is still going today, twenty years later!

“I used my sewing skills to create reproduction antique teddy bears as limited editions and went on to sell to specialist shops all over the UK including Hamleys, as well as America, France, Japan and China. This became too big also and I had a waiting list of a year plus. I had done this for long enough and decided to go out to work so that I could have some ‘me’ time.

“My first job was for the Royal Mail, then British Telecom, then Hoseasons and lastly an auction room. The auction room I found interesting and I decided to work for myself again taking the knowledge I had learned from all things antique and I now deal in vintage clothing and accessories which I love.

“So, my message to students struggling at school and not sure what they want to do is this; follow your instincts, do your best at everything even if you fail in some things, because whatever you do learn and do remember will be put to use at some time in your life. Go with what you love, enjoy and are good at and that will see you happily through your life, you don’t have to struggle on with something just because it’s expected of you.”

We pass on our thanks and best wishes to Gerry.

June 2014

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