The Prescotian Webzine

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I was one of those Liverpudlians whom Rod Crook described in his address at the Reunion Dinner of 1992 as 'coming up the hill", in fact, my home was merely yards across the border in Bowling Park and I was thus disqualified from attending a Liverpool grammar school. As a child, it seemed to me that I was undertaking a daily safari to 'Deepest Lancashire" and I was fascinated by the broad accents of the Lancastrians. It is indeed ironical that, whilst so many Prescotians have left the area for perhaps more glamorous destinations, my Health Service career eventually deposited me as a Chief Officer of Rainhill Hospital whose home has a Prescot postal address - - but is actually in St Helens !

My schooldays, 1944-1949 were not distinguished. A heart condition saw me off school for a long period and I was not allowed to play games although 1 loved soccer and eventually became a referee. Kicking a ball around during recess I had the misfortune to fall into a muddy ditch and from that day became known as 'Bogs' Wilson.

I managed to obtain my Oxford School Certificate in 1949 but I entertained no illusions regarding the possibility of entering the sixth form. A few days before the end of the summer term, Mr Briggs said he wished to see me with my mother to discuss my future. He outlined a new career structure of School Laboratory Technician which could lead to a rote as an Associate Teacher and offered me the post of a school laboratory assistant in the first instance. I remember being very cautious about the possibility of becoming an 'associate teacher' but my mother was hooked. As there was a certain appeal about returning to the school as a staff member, I quickly agreed. I left officially at the end of summer term and returned on the first day of Autumn Term 1949 under the eyes of Juddy Hawthorne and ernie Hough. On my first day I had some difficulty in persuading the prefects that they had no jurisdiction over me.

I soon learnt that my role was more associated with the caretaker than with the teaching staff. However, on occasions of staff shortages, I was allowed to supervise junior classes with simple experiments in physics and chemistry. I suppose my real claim to fame was on the occasion when I saved the school from burning to the ground. A large store-room was attached to the physics laboratory and here Mr Hawthorne conducted personal experiments. My duties included preparing the laboratories for the following morning and often I was the last to leave. On this particular day I looked into the store-room just before 5 o'clock and found the place ablaze. I tackled the conflagration successfully with the fire extinguisher and ran all the way to Mr Hawthorne's home - passing a startled Mr Briggs in the corridor it never occurred to me to ring for the fire brigade and I cannot recall any fire alarm policy, although I feel sure that there must have been one.

The next day, Mr Briggs wished me to attend Morning Assembly so that he could announce that 1 had saved the school. This I considered a doubtful honour. As I associated much more with the pupils than with the staff, I thought they would kill me if they found out! The headmaster accepted my modest refusal.

I had only occupied the post at the school for twelve months when my National Service medical examination became due. Because of my previous heart condition, it was generally felt that my attendance would be a mere formality. I was the only one to be delighted when I was accepted into the RAF. I have already mentioned my love of soccer and on my last Saturday morning I quickly finished my chores and went out for the first and last time to the soccer pitch to watch the first team match. Towards the end of the game there was a tap on my shoulder and there was Juddy with a twinkle in his eye and a ten shilling note in his hand to wish me well for the future. I still have a conscience to this day about being caught away from my post.

Upon joining the RAF my civilian laboratory post was assessed as being closest to the RAF trade of Nursing Orderly and I was sent for trade-training. Most of my Service career was spent in hospital administration.

Today, I am a Justice of the Peace for St Helens and the Chairman or Director of a number of mental heath charities.


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