Brought up the eldest child of a not very well off middle class northern Ireland family with Brethren Irish/ Scottish roots, I started my schooldays at Downey House, a paid-for prep school of Methodist College, the grammar school my father and his siblings had attended in Belfast after his Tyrone based farmer father suffered a severe stroke. Shy and a bit of a dreamer, with no older siblings, I couldn’t yet tie my laces at 5, liked English, reading and nature study, but didn’t like the maths teacher. Still, I was awarded 1st Girl in Form 2, but from there my marks went down. I was unhappy, and my parents transferred me to the local primary school, where I learnt the joys of singing, English composition, and a well stocked library. Passing my 11 plus, without ever feeling any pressure to do so, I went on to Ashleigh House, a Belfast grammar school my mother had attended for a secretarial course. With a place in the A group due to 11 plus results, I did reasonably well until mock O-levels, of which my results were average. On a summer job in France I received my actual O-level results, which I could hardly believe, as they were good enough for me to return for A-levels. However this was not to be, as my return to commence A-levels was determined by my poor mock O-level results, and by this time my parents had decided I would commence a nursing career as most of my aunts had done. And so it was. I suspected they felt Uni would give me an opportunity to ask too many questions for a Brethren girl, and I deeply regretted not having been given the choice. But nursing training was of a high scholastic level and I passed my exams with ease. A further 6 months Midwifery training convinced me that was not for me, but I had met the man I wanted to marry, and babies followed. Only after he was diagnosed with leukaemia aged 36 did I start to write, and when he died I had the responsibilities of single parenthood. A further career in clinical research followed and my writing ability came to good use. I have now just finished writing my memoir.
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