“I started teaching in Barnsley schools in 1969 and left in 1994/95, during which time I had taught every age range from pre-school nursery to A Level – always with extramural involvement.
“As I had also done visiting lectures and secondments at Bretton Hall College of Higher Education since 1972/73 on the PGCE Secondary Teacher Training Courses, I joined them on a full-time basis in 1995.
“Link Tutor visits to students in placement schools of every kind across the old West Riding further broadened my awareness of the pitfalls that schools have in common, and particular areas of strength in some.
“It was in the early 1970s, to obviate foreseeable problems following the raising of the school leaving age, that I first realised the importance of having positive role models to fire up youngsters’ aspirations.
“Since then I have gained further experience along those lines from ‘Educational Priority Areas’ through to the costly Independent/Private Sectors here and abroad.
“I became aware, from experience in Grimethorpe at the time of the pit closures, how seriously the decimation of industrial opportunities in this area affected not only men and boys, but equally the women and girls. Faced with far fewer opportunities and the increasing influence of media concentration on celebrity status frequently results in a negative reaction to both education and ambition.
“I strongly believe that identifying and engaging people who have achieved something in their own lives is now more important than ever. For youngsters to hear someone, who had greater obstacles than they personally face, say – “Well I did it – so why can’t you!”
“Barnsley is blessed beyond belief with people who can do that; people who in sharing their own stories inspire others to follow suite. In virtually every outlying village, and the town itself, there is someone whose achievement has been nationally or internationally recognised.
And that is in such wonderful and diverse subjects as: Advertising, Archaeology, 2 and 3Dimensional Art, Business, Cricket, Dance, Design, Diplomacy, Education, Fashion, Film, Football, Hairdressing, Industry, Journalism, Law, Literature, Medicine, Music, Poetry, Policing, Politics, Publishing, Public Services, Radio, Religion, Rugby, Sport, Television, Theatre and more.
“It was to encourage emulation by highlighting that wide range of local skill, talent, persistence, gift, versatility, tenacity, lateral thinking, hard work or opportunistic chance-taking, that I wrote the books “All for Barnsley” and “Barnsley & Beyond”.
“My BBIS hour would be used to ensure that youngsters knew the stories leading up some of these successes, and be self-motivated by the inspirational trails that some have blazed across the world.”