Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school”

Albert Einstein

So many years and so many teachers but some stay with you and the first memorable teacher I remember is Mr G. I was only 8 when I joined his class but he was very perceptive and one of the few men in a primary school, as more women tend to teach younger children. He was impeccably dressed, with a smart suit and a long umbrella which he carried to work every day prodding it like a walking stick as he walked to and from school. I remember his wife worked as one of those makeup ladies in a department store in town and was beautiful and also immaculate.

The morning always started with a desk and book inspection. His desk was pristine and he expected ours to be. He walked around and inspected everyones desks. Anyone that did not have sharpened pencils or a tidy desk had less playtime at break time. 

He sat us in square tables of between 4 and 8 children in groups of ability , with the naughty less able 4 boys at the front! Where he could keep his eye on them but also where he could help them the most. I always wanted to be on the top right table where the cleverest group sat. They had extra sums and extra reading because they did everything so quickly…they were smart…and he wanted everyone to aim to be near to, or on that table but of course we couldn’t all be there!

Times tables were recited and games were made of them to help us remember them and then stars were given when we knew them all. He encouraged us to aim high and gave extra time to those less able. He showed us how to help others and be patient but he wouldn’t stand for any messing around.

“Why do I remember him so well from 51 years ago?”

He knew I was interested in music and when he heard that the flute teacher had a space he put me forward for a one off lesson and I was accepted. He took me to an audition for the Sound of Music at his amateur dramatic society and encouraged me to practise regularly and play to the class. I doubt he is still alive but he encouraged us in whatever we were interested in as well as making sure that we learnt the basics. 

Photo of Julie Kent MBE with her flute in school

He rewarded good and outstanding work and highlighted pupils for excellence. I sometimes think that we are so desperate to be politically correct now. That the outstanding are praised too much incase others feel unsuccessful.

However in real life, when we get out into the work place, those that do well, work hard and give the most will progress and succeed faster. That is an important lesson that should be given in schools.

The core values from Mr G of tidiness, politeness, eagerness for learning and kindness have shaped the woman I have become.

These values have become fundamental within my life helping me navigate from being a solid student in education to a pillar of society who always aims to help those less able.

He taught me to aim high, push myself and think and help others who might be struggling around me.

Thank you Mr G. 

Julie Kent MBE

Photo of keynote speaker Julie Kent MBE

Meet Julie Kent MBE

A story of grief, grit and resilience, glamour and giving. Honoured with an MBE in October 2020 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Often referred to as the lady with the sax, Julie is an inspirational, musical and a high-energy keynote speaker who enters the stage playing the saxophone and takes the audience on an adventure through three challenging decades. Talking openly about the loss of her first daughter Emily, who died of a brain tumour at the age of 3 Julie enthuses about how giving and raising money helped her journey of grief.  She became a crazy, fun and much loved House Mistress at Dean Close School in Cheltenham teaching, living with and caring for over 60 young girls. She showed them how to give to help others, with not just money but with time, energy and humility. Her mantra of “Give to charity, Give your time, Give yourself” was one that she lived by everyday and encouraged others to do the same. She talks about how she became one of the most driven and prolific third sector leaders of our time, having a ward in Gloucestershire and Bristol Children’s Hospitals named after Emily her daughter, raising unheard of sums of money for charities, becoming Chairman of Cheltenham Open Door, Vice Chairman of The Pied Piper Appeal, Ambassador and Trustee for Goals beyond Grass.

In 2018 she was named as one of the 50 Greatest Women in Gloucestershire followed by being named in the Top 100 Women in West and was then awarded the Most Outstanding Woman in the Charitable Sector in the West. 

In 2020, during the COVID pandemic, Julie Kent was awarded an MBE for Charitable Services rendered on Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II birthday honours list. 

To learn more about Julie Kent MBE visit her website here