The Person from my Past who Influenced Me the Most

To answer this question properly I need to mention a series of people, each of whom played a similar role in my life. The first is Rachel who ran Gillingham Youth Spotlights many years ago, the second is my 4th year junior teacher Mrs Foster, the third is Lynette Burroughs my GCSE Drama and A Level Theatre Studies teacher and the fourth is Kath Langley-Hamel my English tutor at university.  Each of these women were exceptional at their jobs and each of them noticed something in me that they helped to develop.  They each inspired me and led to me enjoying my greatest hobby – acting – and my chosen profession – teaching.  They each fuelled my love of reading and encouraged me to enjoy the magic of stories.  These are the people from my past who have influenced me the most and I thank them with all my heart.

Rachel King

When I was 9 years old my family moved back from Cyprus to our hometown Gillingham, Kent.  I started back at school with my old class that I had not seen since I was 6 and I joined the local drama group, Gillingham Youth Spotlights at the Parochial Hall (picture above).  My first role was as one of the children in The King and I before being spotted by Rachel as a potential talent and chosen to audition for one of the Von Trapp children in The Sound of Music.  I was successful in that audition and loved playing the role of Louisa in the musical.  Through all of this I idolised Rachel.  I have no idea how old she was at the time, I am guessing between 18 and 23?  She had curly hair, pouty lips and always wore long flowing skirts which in my memory were always brown.  We started every drama session with a meditation and visualisation exercise which was led by Rachel.  Her voice was mesmerising, I loved listening to it.  She could really paint a picture in your mind with her rich, gentle tones.  Rachel was really good to me and she noticed during The King and I that I had a good singing voice so one day when no one else was in the hall she asked me to stand on the stage and sing to her, which I did.  She said, “I knew that you had a good voice under there!”  I have never looked back, she told me to audition for The Sound of Music which I did and won the part of Louisa.  Since then I have played lots of lead roles in pantomimes and muscials and my belief in myself to do this was definitely started by Rachel.  Rachel also influenced my younger sister Julie’s amateur acting career.  When casting The Sound of Music we were struggling to find a Gretl.  I clearly remember one little girl auditioning who when asked to sing Do Reh Me, sang Don’t Blame Me. Very cute but not what Rachel needed.  At the end of one rehearsal evening my Dad was waiting for me at the back of the hall with my 6 year old sister in his arms.  Rachel saw her and just said, “Who’s little sister is that?!”  Our Gretl was born!  I hope that one day I will run a children’s drama group like Rachel and that I too will be able to help some children realise their talents and achieve their dreams.

Rachel now runs

Mrs Foster

Mrs Foster was my fourth year junior teacher at St Barbara’s School in Wulfen, Germany.  She was wonderful!  She, like Rachel, encouraged my love of singing and drama.  She cast me as Mary in the school Nativity, Only A Baby.  A visiting music teacher, Mr Parfitt, led that production but I know that it was Mrs Foster that ensured I play Mary.  In assemblies and music sessions Mrs Foster encouraged us all and ‘fostered’ our talents and enthusiasms.  Mrs Foster also helped me with my creative writing, praising my stories and poems.  I remember one poem that we had to write from a starting line given by Mrs Foster,

What’s in Santa’s sack

Heavy on his bright red back?

Mrs Foster was the teacher that first made me want to be a teacher myself and it was the way she read to us that did it.  For years when reading I Am David, The Silver Sword and Children of the Oregon Trail I would see Mrs Foster’s lips when reading.  I used to love watching her and listening to her read.  These three books are still my three all time favourites and ones that I always share with classes of my own, books I chose to write about at University too.  I owe much to Mrs Foster and feel sad that I do not know where she is in the world anymore and I would love to see her again and thank her for setting me on my way.

Miss Burroughs

Lynette Burroughs taught me drama and theatre studies.  She introduced me to Brecht and Stanislavski and she lead me to love the theatre the way I still do today.  In my theatre studies class there were only 6 of us and we were a close group that worked hard and were lead by Miss Burroughs.  She also cast and directed the school plays and she chose me to play Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors which I loved.  Miss Burroughs was the reason I settled on becomng a teacher.  I wanted to be just like her.  I still do.  When I chose my teaching degree I chose to focus on primary but when I return to teaching I may follow my heart and my dream to teach secondary English and Theatre Studies.  Thank you Miss Burroughs x

Kath Langley-Hamel

Kath was my tutor at St Martin’s College, Ambleside.  She taught English, my subject specialism on my Primary Education degree.  I used to talk to her a lot about my work and my worries.  She always had faith in me and believed that I would be a good teacher.  She told me that it was okay to worry and because I was worried she knew I would do well because of the care and throught that I put into my work and my teaching.  It was Kath who told me, as the end of our course drew near, that I had acheived my dream of getting first class honours in my degree.  A very special moment, getting such brilliant news from someone I looked up to so much. Someone who for me has really made a difference.

These are the people who have influenced me the most, my past, my present and I am sure my future. 

This post is written as part of the Bloggy Moms Blog Dare.

a mom blog community


About willest

Very proud 34 year old Mum of twins William and Esther, born on 24th July 2010 at 27 weeks and 3 days
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