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John Roger Yates - 1951-1958

I have to say that my time at DHS were the happiest years of my life. The friendships I made last to this day. I never found study difficult, I just didn’t do any. Well! Not too much anyway. When I hear about all the sexual things that apparently occur in today's education system I just cringe. The only intrusions we had to dodge were flying blackboard dusters and plimsoles. You have to realise that, when we had girls from DHSG, Stoke Damerel or Plymouth High over for School "dances" I have heard the girls ask "Are those for washing feet" pointing at the urinals.

I suppose because I was so young, "A" level year was finished when I was only 17.3, I had no idea of what I wanted to do post DHS. My close allies were destined for great things in Medicine and Dentistry and were taking all the appropriate steps to get there, while I still had no idea. They were a year older. That's what happens when you slip through the net and take the Scholarship at nine. I suppose a split post-war family and 'gap' year convinced me to get a job, which I did at the place where I used to make more pocket money, Millbay Flour Mills.I was living at Pomphlett at the time and travelled in by No5 bus. One day I read an advert in the Herald for Metropolitan Police. My life suddenly found some direction: I joined the Met. at 19.1. Police work taught me discipline, co-ordination, investigative skills and people skills that have surely taken me through life to what I consider to be a reasonable living standard. Throughout all this it was not until much later that I realised that those things I apparently didn't learn at DHS were buried in there somewhere and surfaced to ease my way through life.

Following 12 very successful years in The Met I decided to emigrate to Australia. Here I have been for the past 40 odd years. The instilled investigative skills led me into the insurance industry where, following some considerable study, I became a Chartered Loss Adjuster. My profession took me to live in Alice Springs for some nine years and even earned me some work in London. I can tell you that there was some difference assessing burnt Chinese drapes in London when I was more used to burnt fences in outback Australia. Mind you, the principles are the same.

Never one to sit still for too long I decided to improve my flying (Pilot) skills from private to commercial status. I had been using aircraft a substantial amount to facilitate attendance at claims. I became chief pilot of a local airline and that is where I met my wife of the last 30 years. I used to fly her in and out of her medical practice on an aboriginal settlement. When her term was up we decided to get together and took a complete lifestyle change. We took over rundown businesses, built them up and sold them on for a profit. We did that with four businesses over the next twenty years.

At 64 I decided enough was enough. I have been retired since. One interesting thing: while I was at DHS there was only one other Yates, Michael in the year above. I met him at a re-union in 2001 where we learned that we had both named one of our sons Jolyon. OK maths guys - what are the odds on that happening?


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