1947 A WONDERFUL ACHIEVEMENT

As a child, one is so ignorant of what is done for you and others in the same boat. It was the late 1940’s, there was rationing, and everyone and everything was recovering from the impact of the war. Yet, The Birmingham Royal Institution For the Blind had gathered together over one hundred blind and low vision children in a large house, secured funding from Local authorities and was giving us a proper start in life. Cash and resources were scarce meaning that we had to have lots of oral lessons with no textbooks and apparatus. But, unbeknown to us, the staff were working  on curricula for reading/writing, Maths, and the production of a braille library. Staff were being trained to meet the special needs of visually impaired youngsters and the College Of Teachers Of The Blind was beginning to make a national  impact. We even had braille maps to investigate. I was very interested in exploring the shape of the British Isles and the whereabouts of towns and cities whose names I had heard on the radio every Saturday afternoon when the football results were read out. I discovered that my own home town, Wolverhampton, was near to Birmingham somewhere in the middle of England but not  precisely in the middle. I am not sure how the maps were produced but  much of the braille lesson material was produced by hand and without a system of mass-production – a huge tribute to the dedication of the staff. 

It did not seem to matter to us children that the classrooms were disused huts with the most basic electricity and water provision. Toilets were inadequate and the coke stoves left us freezing much of the winter’s day, especially during the first lesson. It was a five minute walk from the old house to the classroom and I have a very happy memory of bomb-fire night 1946. Walking back to the house, I announced to the world that I had seen a star. It was an opportune announcement because I had just returned to school from a hospital stay and an eye operation. It turns out, however, that I had spotted the moon which seemed to follow me all the way. 

the  following spring was one in a hundred for us children The snow was piled up to the level of the window ledges, we could slide and skate everywhere including all the way down a slope to the stable yard and even across the lily  pond and back.

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