As a young child I became fascinated with history, living in the village of Christleton I was told by my primary school head teacher about the English Civil War Battle, the Battle of Rowton Moor that took place not a stone’s throw from village that I lived in. My imagination did somersaults thinking of close to ten thousand men fighting to the death on the very fields that I walk on. My interest was also sparked by my own grandfather telling me the tales of his second world war experience.
Sadly, when I moved to high school all thoughts of interest went out of the window and my primary focus became my mates and girls. Secondary education just wasn’t for me, for some reason unknown to me until much later in life, I just couldn’t grasp what I was being taught, trying to put my thoughts into words on paper just didn’t seem to work for me but ask me to stand up and talk about a subject then that was easy, it was just second nature but I was constantly told I was thick because my spelling, written work and reading was really poor.
Sadly, and for many reasons I found myself acting the fool, playing the joker and getting into trouble, all of this came to ahead when I was expelled from one high school and then another. I left secondary education with not one exam and the words ‘your thick’ and ‘you’ll end up in prison’ ringing in my ears. I suppose when one is told something time and time again then you start to believe that and so I went head long down a road of self-destruction. During my teenage years I also had my fair share of racial abuse as coming from a Jewish immigrant family then it felt like it was open season on my families religious and cultural past and so sadly I found myself in trouble with the police, fighting my way through my latter teenage years, doing drugs and eventually being told by a court that if they saw me again then I’d be sent away.
One night at our local youth club that was run by the army at the old Saighton army camp, the leader, a rough and bloody tough Scottish sergeant pulled me to one side, this man had always been nice to me, kind of saw through the facade that I’d created and shoving a book in my hand ‘read this, promise me you’ll at least read one page a night, you don’t have to tell anyone about it but just read it’. To pacify this man that I had respect for I agreed and that night I went home and turned to the first page. I can’t put my finger on it but over a period of weeks I became fascinated in the words on the page, my childhood interest in history started to return and whilst this event wasn’t the be all and end all of my misspent youth, it started to fill my head with information, questions and thoughts. It changed the way I thought and slowly it opened up a different
Whilst I still struggled with the words, the construct of sentences and general grammar, I took my time and started to learn at my own pace with no one looking over my shoulder or down at my work or pressurising me to stand up in class and read a passage. The penny started to drop and the reason I believe is that I choose to learn rather than being forced to learn in the conventional way. I’m not suggesting that this history book changed my life but I am convinced it was the spark that lit the fuse and re-ignited my early year’s passion for a subject that would become my life.
I was fortunate to fall into an career that allowed me to use my main asset which was my mouth, I developed a skill that saw me rise above many of my peers, selling computer systems to board members of the FSTE 500 became my job and I was bloody good at it but it felt unfulfilled. When I first got into the industry at the age of 18 I saw lots of 40 + year old men burnt out and finished and I swore to myself that by the age of 40 I will be out of the game completely. Although I was financially fulfilled I knew that there was something missing in my life, I knew I had unfinished business with education and that actually I wasn’t thick, I knew I wouldn’t end up in prison but for years I couldn’t put my finger on what my next step was. The death of my father in 2005 hit me like a freight train, I had lost my number one fan, my biggest supporter and my best friend, my dad worked in jobs he hated in order to provide as roof over our heads but in the modern world we are fortunate to change if we want to and change I did.
At 38 I gave up my 20-year career, got a job driving a mini cab and started to study, because of my very misspent youth I had to and get exams that today’s 16 year olds get, nine months after doing a college course I then secured a place in university. I skipped to uni every single day, I just loved the new world that had opened up for me, I now chose to learn rather than being forced to and I just couldn’t get enough. Although I was still massively hampered by own issues the staff at the university realised that I had a problem and I was diagnosed as being severely dyslexic, the uni couldn’t do enough to help me and that gave me the confidence to study and study hard. I was never going to be a straight A student, actually just being on the course was enough for me and whilst other students fought like hell to get straight A’’s and a first, I did cartwheels when I got my 2.2
Having got my degree, I had to use it and the thought came to me about starting my own history business. I didn’t want to be a librarian or archivist, I wanted something different, I wanted to teach but knew I couldn’t qualify as a teacher because the children’s grammar would be better than mine. I also wanted the flexibility, I didn’t want my hands tied. I really feel so sorry for teachers these day because nowadays most of their time is done with filling out forms in order to tick boxes and unfortunately it’s the children that miss out so I started The Living History Hub which offers cross-curriculum, immersive, fun but educational hands on history sessions that really bring the subject to life and to date it has been an absolute blast.
I skip to work nowadays, I have a permanent smile on my face, I’m so much happier and I get such the biggest thrill out of working with young people who regardless of background, status, wealth, colour, religion, ethnicity they all just have this amazing zest to learn.
The amazing subject of history really saved me and changed my life and I honestly believe it can do the same for others. I am using the subject of history to inspire children into learning and education, I am also using it to dispel miss-information on different cultures and religion and demonstrating how immigration has had a hugely positive effect on our own culture and country via demonstrating inventions from the past and how we all benefit from these. We as adults have a social duty to pass on our knowledge to the future generations, we must keep alive the tales of the past so that future generations can learn and create a better future for themselves and if my work plays a very small part in doing this then I’ve won the biggest lottery ever.
I am obsessed about putting FUN and LAUGHTER at the very heart of Education and making the kids I work with go WOW and these areas sit right the way across everything I do.