1965 was a mixed year for me when it came to passing exams. As predicted I failed my eleven-plus in Spring and was sent to secondary school in September in the bottom grade at Dunsmore School for Boys (or Duncemore in my case) but to compensate for that I passed my Elementary Test for swimming a whole length of the swimming baths and that was quite something let me tell you.
The certificate was signed by the examiner, Mrs Dick, who was a fearsome woman, Councillor Pattinson, the Chairman of the Baths Committee and Jim Duffy, the Town Clerk no less! W
who needed the eleven-plus? Not Me!
In contrast to the Hillmorton County Junior School I seemed to be learning something at Chapel and what’s more I was being really successful. Every year we used to take an exam, well, more of a little test really, and if you passed there was a colourful certificate with a picture of Jesus and signed by absolutely everyone who was anyone in the Methodist Church hierarchy.
I was awarded a first class pass three years running and even though the school headmaster had written me of as an educational no-hoper I wasn’t in the slightest bit concerned because I was becoming convinced that I was going to be a vicar.
I joined the Wolf Cubs when I was seven years old and after I had passed all the tests, had a sleeve full of badges and received my Leaping Wolf Certificate moved up to the Scouts when I was eleven. At first I was in the Paddox Troop but later transferred to the Hillmorton, which was good for me because dad was the Scoutmaster, which gave me a bit of an advantage when it came to passing tests and getting badges.
I liked the Scouts and the quasi-military organisation that came with it with the uniforms and the kit inspections, the law book and solemn promise and the fact that I could legitimately carry a hunting knife on my belt without being challenged; if a policeman asked you could just say that it was for skinning rabbits! My only regret about the uniform was that by the time I was in the scouts that old pointy khaki hat had been replaced by the green beret; I always lamented the passing of that hat.
I used to cycle to school and to Scout meetings but with so many bikes on the road the Government was concerned about highway safety and in 1967 along with a load of other kids I took my Cycling Proficiency Test.
Cyclist training began in 1947, although its roots stretched back to the 1930s when cycling organisations were pressing the Government to include cyclist instruction in the school curriculum. Finally in 1958 the Government funded the introduction of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) National Cycling Proficiency Scheme and cycling instructors came to the school to prepare us for the test. RoSPA by the way was also responsible for the Tufty Club and the Green Cross Code and were completely detached from reality because we had all been out on the open road for years on our bikes and had already perfected some of the finer points of cycling, such as riding backwards, blindfolded or with no hands. “Look at me, no hands – Look at me – no teeth”.
Most of the ‘training’ took place in the safety of the school playground where we had to demonstrate our biking skills by cycling between bollards, learning the Highway Code and how to maintain our machines in good mechanical order. Once we had done all of this to the satisfaction of the instructor there was a final road test under the watchful eye of the examiner. I don’t think anybody ever failed the Cycling Proficiency Test and at the end there was a certificate and an aluminium badge to attach to the handlebars so that everyone knew just how safe we were.
Hmm, I might have lots of ephemera from my past, but nothing like this collection, don’t think I even have my GCE certificates which I hung onto for some while – I remember ceremoniously burning my school report book because I was ashamed of it, must have been in my twenties by then. Shame really, I could really have had some fun with that now, tons of material for blog tales!
What a shame – I am so glad that my dad kept everything!
National Cycling Proficiency Test – haha, remember that one…still gıt it somewhere (in a dusty box in someone’s loft on a another continent!)
It is thanks to my dad (who was a bit of a hoarder) that I still have all of those certificates.
Then you are indeed a lucky guy – I have virtually nowt from my childhood (perhaps 30 photos)
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My brother joined the Scouts long enough to get a uniform and be in a parade. Then, he quit.
I bet your parents were pleased – a waste of money?
I believe with your cycling certificate you are qualified to join us on a cycling tour Andrew!
I’ll get the rusty old thing out of the garage and give it a quick service!
Excellent! 🙂 I’d also suggest a wee hill training!
No chance of that around here Sue, Lincolnshire is as flat as the Canadian Prairie!
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To be honest, I don’t think that your Dad was necessarily a hoarder in this case. I think it was much more likely that he kept all of those certificates because he was proud of you.
Thanks John, that’s what I like to think!
That’s quite a collection – thanks to your Dad
A cycling certificate . . . I’m at a loss for words.
Was there one for tricycling and unicycling, as well?
Everyone wanted one of those certificates let me tell you!
Fun, Andrew. How important those certificates were back then. As for education, had my first grade teacher been in charge of my future, I probably would have been shipped off to Kid-Jail. Fortunately, my second grade teacher turned out to be my God-mother and my future brightened immediately. As for bicycling, I was zipping around on my bike in Gbarnga, Liberia on mine (beyond walking, it was my only form of transportation other than taxis and money-busses) while you were being certified! I was also serving as a Scoutmaster. 🙂
Also, we just got the note that Biden and Harris have won! –Curt
Thanks for adding these memories Curt.
How do you feel about the voting result?
Ecstatic, for the President and Vice President. Would have liked to see better results for the Senate. A big run-off is coming in Georgia which might yet give the Democrats control. But under any circumstances, The US will move away from the dangerous edge it was teetering on. Biden and Harris make a great team. –Curt
Most folk in UK also happy with the result. All we need to do now is get rid of own Donald Trump.
No doubt, Andrew, there is a bumper crop of Trumps out there. –Curt
I feel we must have had this conversation before, so forgive me if I’m repairing myself! We were Methodists (my father was a minister) and I’m sure I did those scripture exams but no longer have the certificates. If Dad was still here he would no doubt be able to tell me who some of those signatories were – well, the President at least. We also did the Temperance exams and I have a medal and, not a certificate, but a bookplate in the book I chose as a prize. I am living proof that temperance indoctrination does not work!
I would certainly fail a temperance exam!
Thanks for adding this story to the post.
Well, me too if it was a practical! But I remember being quite contemptuous, even aged 10, at the small amount of info you were expected to remember and the patronising way it was presented. We’d sail through the theory.