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Who inspired you? Friday February 28, 2014

"Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be." Ralph Waldo Emerson.

I wonder how many of us were 'inspired/guided/challenged/nudged/prompted' by a wise and mature adult when we were younger - or even lately?

My mother and father did not get on and I grew up, as an only child, in a house of evening arguments - especially after my father had had a drink. I used to constantly have those 'falling' nightmares - where I could not stop falling - down and down and down...a real lack of security in my senses.

After my father physically abused my mother one evening she left and I was bundled into a taxi at 02:00hrs aged 9.

My mother then died of cancer when I was 15, not long after I had moved back in with my dad. (we were living with my grandmother with 2 bedrooms between the 4 of us and a fold down bed in the living room).

Soon after I went off the rails. I started breaking into the school - not doing any damage but stealing the odd football and parts off cars. I also attempted to rob a garage where my friend worked and I rode a motorbike with no license, insurance or MOT.

I did so badly at school that I was held back to repeat my fourth year. This was the school that everyone was so proud that I gained entrance to, especially my mother. So here I was, I'd just lost the only person that really mattered to me and now the very system that should have been supporting me also separated me from all my mates!

Anyway, the head Geography teacher started to take an interest in me as a person and surprise, surprise that, without me really knowing, made a difference. I excelled in Geography and I was made a prefect. I now had to take the names of the late comers and not be one of them. I became rugby, basketball and volleyball captains and gained more qualifications in my final year than I had in the previous two.

That little bit of care and compassion from a wise teacher, when my father at home couldn't care whether I was home or not, turned something inside me to offer a different view of life.

Twenty years later I became the second youngest local authority Chief Executive in the UK and now Chair a youth befriending charity, where we have around one hundred volunteers to weekly befriend troubled youths between 7-17.

What stories have you of such 'nudging' from a wise human being I wonder?

A Moodscope member.

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Anonymous Fri, Feb 28th 2014 @ 7:46am

As a former geography teacher, I particularly like your post, Les. I had a difficult time as a teenager too. I lacked confidence, felt very anxious and had v low self-esteem. One year a teacher who believed in me, gave me a Christmas card in which she'd written 'be strong, you can do it'. I was in the sixth form and although I have struggled with anxiety and depression over the years, those words have helped me when I've wanted to do new things.

Anonymous Fri, Feb 28th 2014 @ 8:10am

so sorry to hear your past was hard but really pleased you are a hero today xxx have a great day. It's a reminder that we don't let the past dictate the future and taking help along the way from those that care sure makes a difference!

Julia Fri, Feb 28th 2014 @ 8:23am

What a wonderful blog Les. Amazing how one kind person can make such a difference to a life. Did you keep in touch at all with the geography teacher?

Rupert Fri, Feb 28th 2014 @ 8:41am

I loved your post! My wife is a primary school teacher and I take great delight when she tells me of a child who has already been branded trouble but whom she shows interest in and encourages almost always with very positive results!

Anonymous Fri, Feb 28th 2014 @ 9:39am

I lost my mother before I was six.
When I sat my O-levels at 14, I passed all 9 subjects, got the results on my 15th birthday, my dad's reaction?
'Didn't think you could do it.'
You can imagine my lack of confidence being brought up by him.
My boyfriend was killed in a crash when I was in college.
I married years later, had 2 boys - the second one born prematurely, died a few days after birth, 4 years later, his brother got into a property with a swimming pool...
I was getting over that & my husband left me for one of my friends...
I've struggled with depression all that time getting help from therapists - & the thought that I had to hang on somehow for my lovely daughter.
Only recently, working in a creative writing group on our autobiography project I made a list of all the disasters I've been through - & came to the conclusion that I'm not the weak victim I always thought I was - I came through it all on my own.
I've just realised that I am strong!
I have found inspiration in myself ! - someone I've always looked down on & considered a weakling.
I am different & life is bright.

Anonymous Fri, Feb 28th 2014 @ 10:14am

My woodwork teacher was an old craftsman who'd taken up teaching late in life. One day as a result of larking around and not listening I made a a dent in the bookend I was making. He told me it was ruined and took it off me. At the end of the lesson he told me to stay behind. He then took an hot flat-iron and a damp cloth and steamed the dent out. My bookend was saved! He didn't say anything: he didn't have to. Since then I've tried to avoid panic and concentrate on positive solutions to crises instead of blame and recriminations.

Anonymous Fri, Feb 28th 2014 @ 10:38am

Great post!

Anonymous Fri, Feb 28th 2014 @ 10:57am

Thank you Les for a heartfelt post. I was persistently devalued after the death of my father when I was very young. I acted out, at home and at school. A new headteacher realised why. Gave me special tasks in school and always had a positive comment to make when we met in the school corridors. I felt valued and got a scholarship. Went on to travel and later developed a successful career in television. So serendipitous that my problems were recognized by him. Many years later I tried to thank him in person but unfortunately he'd recently died. However the effect he had upon my life was profound and I will never forget him.

Anonymous Fri, Feb 28th 2014 @ 11:00am

Hi Les,
The moral of the story is always remember those who pick you up rather than those who put you down. Thank you for sharing. This morning I was thinking about horrible stuff people said about me, ie. that I was a bit loose, when I was at Uni, 25 years ago!! And it played on my mind a bit. Now, just reading your blog reminded me of Miss Lamb, my own Geography teacher, who believed in me more than any other teacher, and more than even myself. To this day, I still think of her - she is a guiding angel when times get tough. Bless you. Kate

The Entertrainer Fri, Feb 28th 2014 @ 1:34pm

Such a moving blog post today, Les. I love teachers - real teachers. Two teachers made a huge difference to me - at the belief level. They radiated confidence in me and I eventually believed what they believed - that I was OK and that I had potential that was well within my grasp. It was only when I came to believe in myself that I found I could tap into that potential. What a great calling in life - to help people believe in themselves. Vocation, vocation, vocation!

Anonymous Fri, Feb 28th 2014 @ 2:10pm

I'm finding the daily posts too wordy. When I'm low all I want is a short piece that doesn't take ages to read. My concentration has gone by the time I've got to the third paragraph.
I just want something that I can take in easily and remember.
Saying that I value the posts highly as its the only consistant thing I can use to help me with my mood.

Julia Fri, Feb 28th 2014 @ 6:10pm

Today's blog though is like a can't put down book! Sometimes if I am feeling so tired I can't concentrate like you describe, I go back to a blog perhaps the next day or a few days later and I always find that there is usually something helpful which I can remember in the first paragraph or so. It's so good you value the blogs though and trying to read them daily helps with your mood.

Les Fri, Feb 28th 2014 @ 8:10pm

Mr McAlpine died about 25 years ago.......his legacy lives on in I'm sure many more than I.

Les Fri, Feb 28th 2014 @ 8:11pm

All strength to her heart.............

Les Fri, Feb 28th 2014 @ 8:13pm

Keep passing his legacy on...........and on..........

Les Fri, Feb 28th 2014 @ 8:15pm

The word vocation comes from the Latin 'Vocare' meaning voice.

To find ones 'vocation' means to have found ones true voice.

Caroline Aschroft Fri, Feb 28th 2014 @ 10:58pm

Hi there Anon, I understand your point and we'll make sure we try to have a good mix of blogs varying in length. Sometimes though, as with this one, it does take a few more words to explain a point and certainly worth it I think.

Anonymous Fri, Feb 28th 2014 @ 11:46pm

Thank you Les for your post. And for the comments above that all made me think and nod my head. Most days I just cannot join a conversation. I simply cannot find the words to explain what I think in my mind. And here the writing is so eloquent. Caroline, would there be anyway that one could give a Thumbs Up to a comment? I have seen this on other blogs. So that even when one cannot find words to write. At least one can take part in this conversation by giving a thumbs up or a smiley or a thankyou.

Caroline Ashcroft Sat, Mar 1st 2014 @ 12:16am

Hi there, I'll look in to it as I think it's a great idea. Can't see how to do this at the moment but will try to introduce this as an option.

Julia Sat, Mar 1st 2014 @ 11:22am

Hi Anon and Caroline
It's a shame you feel like this some days anon but then I think most of us do.It's just sad seeing it in writing somehow. I hope you are feeling OK today? You write eloquently as well! I think that some people just write " "good blog!" or "great post!"when they cannot think of anything else to say. I do sometimes. A thumbs up icon sounds a good idea on the one hand but on the other it would be a shame if people used it instead of writing. And the icon would still need us to pass the robot test which in my view is the worst thing about writing a comment !! What do you think anon? (and Caroline of course). Maybe we should ask what people think? I don't suppose you feel up to writing a blog about it anon? I think you have suggested something quite interesting and there will be different views on it! A good discussion! Your blog could be very short basically what you have written above.

heather Sat, Mar 1st 2014 @ 10:12pm

Mr Blackmore, a wonderful teacher, wrote in my autograph book in primary school "There is nothing as strong as gentleness and nothing as gentle as strength".
I never forgot it. I thought this was a wonderful blog. We all benefit greatly from folk who take an interest in us and bring out the good in us, and we should try to return the favour to others.

Diana Sun, Mar 2nd 2014 @ 6:22am

On ' Facebook ' ( and some other blog-sites, ) People have the option to 'click' on
" like ".

Silvia A Mon, Mar 3rd 2014 @ 1:12am

Thumbs up for your comment! ; )

Silvia A Mon, Mar 3rd 2014 @ 1:18am

Les, I was touched by your blog. Your story and what you became.
I do love teachers.

Anonymous Sat, Mar 8th 2014 @ 5:33pm

I really enjoyed reading your post - I've had several inspirational people guide me through - my primary school head teacher who also taught me piano, my minister who was there for me in the turbulent teenage years, a Roman Catholic nun who mentored me through a post university gap year that helped me (an Irish Presbyterian/Methodist) to find my wings and discover my path in life. And my friend, Elizabeth, who went the extra mile at just the right time that almost certainly kept me sane. Thank you for reminding me that it's often those who come running into the burning building of your life, when others are rushing for the exit, who really make the biggest difference and ultimately who really matter most.

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