City of London School and Me

I was the first in my family to go to university, fortunate enough to get a scholarship to read Physics at Oxford. So, if that had been the only goal of my school days, then City succeeded for me in spades. But there was a lot more to it than that. 

I grew up in Tooting, South London. My parents were very hard working, supportive and generous, but they would never have had the resources to send me to an independent school. The fact that I had the opportunity of a scholarship to City has meant an awful lot in my life. 

City broadened my horizons. Getting on the train to Blackfriars at Tooting station with all the commuters at 7.30 in the morning every day for seven years was formative in itself. The pupils came from all over London and beyond and from a wide variety of backgrounds: different economic circumstances, different religions. I am sure being a part of that diversity was a good building block for us all. I am still in touch with many friends from my school days and attend Old Citizen events when I can.

The teachers were outstanding. Many of them had written the textbooks we used in class. In fact, they were so inspiring that my ambition at the time was to come back and teach at the School! City couldn’t have done more for us academically if that was the direction you chose to go. 

But it was the School’s wider culture that shaped us as much as the lessons. Not only did we benefit from a healthily competitive academic culture, we were also learning about leadership, teams, and gaining an understanding of the breadth of people’s backgrounds. The opportunity to participate in outside activities was enormous. I played Eton Fives for the school (and got a half-blue in my last year at Oxford) and cricket for the Second and Third XIs. 

The Combined Cadet Force was, in part, an introduction to leadership, where I was fortunate to become the senior cadet. I played chess tournaments all over London and was active in the shooting team and the stamp society. The house system was great fun: when Abbott needed me, I was happy to be roped in for the choir competition or the tennis team. There was so much going on.

For ten years after I left City before coming to North America, I was active in the alumni community. I played Eton Fives and Cricket as an Old Citizen. Within that group, you were around so many people who were achieving in their own fields, whose careers were evolving, who had worked abroad or taken on new challenges. It was an inspiring environment. My entire involvement with City nurtured that sense of being open to opportunities; that there is a lot going on in the world and you could be part of it.

I’ve been in North America 40 years now. Until I retired, I was working for the largest newsprint company in the world, supplying paper to The New York Times, Washington Post, Times of India, The Daily Mail and hundreds more. I travelled extensively both internationally and throughout N America and met fascinating people. We’ve been fortunate to live in great places: Atlanta, Chicago, Toronto, New York, Montreal and now, in retirement, split our time between South Carolina and Maine 

Now, my own children have had the opportunity to go to outstanding schools and universities in America and the UK and have gone into successful careers. I feel being given the opportunity of my scholarship to City changed not only my own life but the trajectory of our whole family.

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