I left Warren Road Primary School and arrived at Cray Valley to be amazed at the scale of the building and the open space around it. I loved all sport and was drawn into as many sports as I could take part in, not really great at anything, but being part of the team and encouragement from Martin Carr, Phil Lewis and Mr Eaton along with their desire for discipline stood me in good stead for a lifetime enjoyment of sport. I played rugby until I was 48, cricket to 55, tennis and badminton to 60 until the knees gave up!
My other love was art, Leo Walmsley and Mr House also provided great enthusiasm for those remotely interested in their subject. I remember designing posters, logos and brochures for school plays along with other bits and in the sixth form, painted a mural in the school foyer depicting the rise of industrialism and construction. This was probably a little more prophetic than I realised at the time. Life at Cray Valley for me was an adventure that lasted right through to the sixth form.
I was lucky enough to go on school trips abroad to Denmark, Vienna and a fantastic tour of Europe in two mini buses driven by Martin Carr and John Gale. There are a few pictures you will see in the Image Archive and there are some old faces there some I am sure will remember. There are also a couple of old rugby team photos too, Martin Carr Specials! Sat on benches, rugby kit, school blazers over and collars turned up taken in the gym!
Encouragement to adventure took me and Rick Gillings, Pete Smith and Pete Bennett on a hitch hiking trip at 14 to Exeter and a partial walk/camp and youth hostel across Dartmoor and back again. In these PC days I cant imagine too many parents letting their 14 year olds on such an expedition. Trips with others, Ian Chalmers, Mick Matthews and Howard Leslie followed in school holidays hitch hiking, scrambling and walking our way around Wales, Devon, the Peak District, the Lake District and Scotland. It certainly upgraded my map reading skills and helped with Geography A level. Sadly of course, as Rick Gillings has already documented, a tragic accident robbed us of a dear friend at the foot of Beachy Head when the Navy detonated WW2 explosives without checking the coast was clear. Unbelievably Rick and I survived the blast, and taught me my greatest lesson, that the most precious of all things is life itself.
As much as I enjoyed all the engineering facilities that Cray Valley had to offer, I unexplainably decided to join the arts sixth. Perhaps I viewed it as the easy option to indulge in sport and art. Not totally an outrageous success in examination results, mostly passes, just, but it was just a fantastic time. It was a naturally small class in what was obviously an engineering and science based school, and you had the feeling we were not always viewed with enthusiasm by some. However, the small class size placed us in the old lost property office at the top of the main stair. Isolation! A result!
Some lessons here and free periods were a gas. The teachers, messers Brooks, Bradley, Smith, Mayo and our Welsh geography teacher Dai Watkins were terrific. Nice afternoons outside with the occasional cricket net on summer days!
After not managing a decent art school place I ended up in construction as an engineering management trainee with Costain. 7 years later fully qualified carried on until the age of 35, formed my own business, building and design anything from housing to factories pubs and leisure parks. The 1992 economic collapse hit hard and I reverted to pure drawing, back to school! I still do a bit alongside planning consultancy, but still enjoy it. Two marriages and four children and a final move from West Sussex to South Yorkshire looks like the last move. My children asked why I moved up north? My part of South Yorkshire is peaceful, no great rush, and more than 6 cars in row is a traffic jam! I still venture south for both work and family, past the old house in Warren Road, Chelsfield and when I can, pass what I now realise is an iconic structure, the old CVTHS. The curved glass window just amazing.