My sentence came to an end prematurely, my release date was given and I furthered my education in a more relaxed and more accepting environment.

What followed was a readjusting of my confidence which had been totally destroyed at Sir Christopher Wren, a rebuilding of my self esteem and a planning of the way ahead for my career. I think at one point I had indicated in a careers after school session when parents were in attendance that I wanted to be an air traffic control officer. Where the hell that came from I don’t know ? I think I must have read it that day in my Beano comic book, it looked and sounded good and was bound to impress the careers officer and my parents. I am not quite sure how I was going to succeed at this expectation, with 8 duff level CSE results and a tuck shop Prefect responsibility to my list of credits I was hardly brain of Britain. The truth of the matter is, I actually went on to become a three colour Litho print worker apprentice, seen then as one of the better apprenticeships you could get hold of. I used to get up at the crack of dawn, travel on three busses to get to work and then spent the whole day trying to enjoy what was supposed to be the beginning of my future. Growing up is actually quite cruel. You’re supposed to suddenly know your own mind the minute you leave school, you’re supposed to cope with life in the work place, you’re supposed to easily integrate with adults following a life with school kids and then at the end of the week you are expected to hand over half your pay packet to cover your board and lodgings. Mmmmmmm now was I really impressed at this life being mapped out for me? NO not at all, so I decided it was time to take control and make a life that I was going to be happy with.

I left my apprenticeship in printing and got a job in Travel Agents, (Thomas Cook) to be exact. I also took a part time job in a City centre clothes shop (Northern Clothing) and in the evening I worked in a hotel from 7pm until 3am. Yes, it could be said that whilst my school mates were out enjoying themselves, I it seemed was working all the hours that God sent, my idea being, the more I saved, the quicker I could stop working and retire to the sun. Well the theory seemed ideal; I just needed to put it in to practice. So for the next few years that’s just what I did, I worked round the clock, bought my first car a V.W Beatle when I was 17, I bought a three bedroomed semi detached house when I was 18 and I became a domestic landlord also at the age of 18. I trained as a travel agent, took promotion becoming one of the youngest travel agency managers at the age of 22 and then I left the security of life and employment in the UK and ventured out to Saudi Arabia at the age of 24 to work in the Royal Family business of a Travel Agency network set up in Jeddah. It was exciting times and opened up a life beyond my expectations, but I was still searching for that special something in my career path to make the hours I had put in earlier all worthwhile. I returned to the UK after being head hunted at the age of 24 to work as a Regional trouble shooter for Pickford’s Travel. My area covered Yorkshire, Lancashire, parts of Wales and parts of Cheshire. A confrontation with my Regional Director saw my position made redundant and I found myself jobless and in search of redirection. My confrontation was I felt at the time giving cause for wrongful dismissal, so I decided against all odds to take it to an industrial tribunal. The case was heard, I won the case and I was offered three possibilities. One was a cash pay off, the other was promotion in to another area or the third was my old job back with the very guy who had made me redundant. I decided on the latter and took great delight in turning up for work, side by side with this guy who had made working conditions difficult for me.

Fast forward 1 year and the Regional Director had been moved on, I got his job, but what I had also done was recognize how easy it was to have your whole life destroyed by the inappropriate actions of others. I had decided to open my own travel agency business on the quiet and I did so right next door to the busiest shops on my region in my full time role with Pickford’s. I ran the two jobs side by side, quite undetected for about 2 years until I realized that on the opening of my third shop, it was time to hand in my notice on my job as Area Manager with the high street multiple and concentrate my efforts on my own growing and successful high street travel agency chain.

My business grew as it became more successful and shops were opened throughout Lancashire and Cheshire. I also followed my love of property purchasing and built a sizable property portfolio which I saw as a safety net if the bottom fell out of the travel industry. At the age of 35 I was approached by one tour operator (Thomson Holidays) and three high street multiple travel agents with a view to buying me out. Being in a strong position with three serious purchase interests, I sat back and let the accountant do his magic. Following a two year negotiation a sale was finally concluded, the deal finalised and my business was sold. I was employed on a consultancy basis for 6 months until all funds passed in to my account and then I did what I had planned when I was 17 years old and that was to retire out to Cyprus to enjoy and reclaim some of the years I had missed as a growing teenager. Cyprus was my chosen destination as it had to be primarily tax beneficial and second it had to be close enough to the UK so my parents and family could visit and share in the success that the sale of my business had brought me.

I am now 53 years old, I feel very blessed to live a privileged lifestyle, I became a multi millionaire at 37 years old and I currently have homes in Cyprus, Egypt, Dubai, Crete, Thailand and the UK. I have a commercial property portfolio with blue chip clients and I have domestic rentals worldwide. I have passed my Captains license and enjoy summers on the boat when I am in Cyprus and I commute between the rest of my homes enjoying year round sunshine. Yes I am slightly boastful of my achievements, but the reason I share it with you is because I was actually one of the kids who left school with nothing in the way of qualifications. I made my own way in life, never having had hand outs and always knowing the only person who would make a difference was me. I got engaged at an early age because this is what we were educated to do. I went on to share 10 beautiful years of my life with a lovely lady I met on the cosmetics counter in Hammonds during my Sir Christopher Wren lunch breaks. We separated only for the fact she wanted children and I was too wrapped up building my business, I felt it was a responsibility I could not take on at that time. I have since gone on to jump ship and bat for the other side, finding myself a lovely guy to share my life with and plan old age and where we will spend the next season of the year. We have spent 15 lovely years together and the fact that we are both of an age and thankfully still with good health that what has been developed for our future financial security, can now be enjoyed.  The hard work, the endless hours of running from one job to another, the time spent in a foreign land and the missing out on many nights partying as a growing teenager, I feel have been worth every sacrifice I made then. Sitting back on the terrace of my mountain top villa, looking out to the Mediterranean and sipping a cool gin and tonic is proof that paper qualifications are NOT the guarantee to a successful future and there is not a day goes by that I ever take any of it for granted. My rough start at Sir Christopher Wren ended on a positive note, positive because it gave me a determination to make a way in life that would allow me to enjoy quality leisure time at a junction in my life when many others were still trying to decide on a direction. I am grateful for the hard knocks I took as a kid, I am grateful for never being the brightest kid in class and I am grateful for the tough regime this school taught me. All these things have a huge impact on how we function, how we grow and how we develop and I am sure if I had never attended Sir Christopher Wren, then for sure I would not be in the position I am in today, so I thank them from the bottom of my heart for laying the foundations for my future.
Paul Bainbridge e-mail <>
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