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I left Smethwick school at 15 but I still got three degrees

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: May 31, 2014

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I ALWAYS buy The Bugle every time I am over in the Midlands because I appreciate you are as passionate about the area and its people as I am.

I retired 10 years ago at the age of 65 and now live in Cyprus where 56 years ago I spent 20 months serving with the RAF.

I have just had my autobiography published and I wondered if people in the Black Country would be interested in reading it?

I left school at the age of 15 in 1953 with no paper qualifications, and went to work in an unskilled job at Phillips Cycles in Smethwick. Called up in 1956, I served for five years in the UK, Cyprus and Malta.

Back to the Midlands I worked on the shop floor for Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds in Heath Street, Smethwick, for ten years. During the latter part of that period I became a shop steward for the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers, with Bill Jordan as my convenor, now of course Baron Jordan of Bournville.

With the goal of trying to be an effective shop steward I took a couple of correspondence courses with the National Extension College in Cambridge, which led to being encouraged by my NEC tutor, Sam Rouse, to apply for a place at Ruskin College in Oxford.

My application was successful and I obtained my first ever bit of academic paper – a Labour Studies Diploma in 1976. I was 38 at the time.

I was unable to find employment on the diploma's completion. Result, I applied for a place at Sussex University. I completed an Economics BA degree in two years and then registered for an MSc in the History and Social Studies of Science. I then applied for a D.Phil, also at Sussex. which I completed in 1985 aged 47.

I was then employed firstly at the Technical Change Centre in London, followed by being a Senior Research Fellow at both Brighton and Sussex Universities, and for five years at Manchester Business School. I was also seconded to the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria, and at UNIDO in Vienna.

I have acted as a conference organiser, book editor and project manager for more than 20 years and during that time met many fascinating and interesting people, and travelled the world.

Why have I bothered to write my life story? Not because I envisage making money from it and certainly not to enhance my reputation - it's a bit too late aged 76. I hope to encourage others into an interest in further and higher education.

The book, entitled On Life's Little Twists and Turns, is available from me by email at £13.

Kind regards.

Bill Haywood.


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