Dagenham’s Bob Miller
PUBLISHED: 10:40 21 June 2012
Bob Miller, 64, was born in Dagenham and went to school at Alibon Primary and Dagenham County High (now Sydney Russell). Since 2001 he has helped organise Dagenham County High reunions. Bob, who spent 30 years in the police force, now works as a schools inspector and lives in Chelmsford with his wife Maureen. He has two grown up daughters.
I was born in Fanshawe Crescent in 1947 and am the eldest of five children. In 1951 we moved to Alibon Road and I started at Alibon Primary.
The headteacher at Alibon, Sydney Ling, was a great man. He was like the Pied Piper, as he used to play this penny whistle and all the kids would follow him around the playground. And he’d wear these things on his shoe heels called blakeys, which were bits of metal to stop the heels from wearing down. As the floor in the school was flagstone, you could hear him coming a mile away.
I was a bit of a rascal at school but I was one of the only children who didn’t receive corporal punishment. I think the teachers were scared of my dad and brothers as they had a bit of a reputation.
Myself and everyone else in my class (there was 40 of us) passed our 11 plus. We went on to the only grammar school in Dagenham, Dagenham County High.
I struggled a bit academically at secondary school but managed to keep my head above water because I was good at sport.
I had the privilege of playing on the same football team as Dennis Moore, who played 80 caps for England. I also boxed with Graham Moughton who represented Britain at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
As well as sport I enjoyed drama. My English master thought I had a good, booming voice. When I was about 14 he put me forward for an audition for the National Youth Theatre. I had to learn a piece from Shakespeares’ Henry V and I remember one of the people who listened to me at the audition was Sir Alec Guinness.
Sometime later a letter arrived to say I had got a place, but as my father has the same name as me he opened it. He was disgusted, ripped the letter up and told me there was no way I was going to hang out with a “load of poofs.” So that was it. I later found out that the intake that year included Helen Mirren, Ian McShane and Stephanie Beacham.
The Old Dagonian reunions have been going since 1941, but in 2001 it was announced they would stop as the organisers were getting on a bit. But a few of us who went to the school in the 60s decided we would keep them going. We have a strong core of around 50 people who make it to the May and Baker Social club in Dagenham every year on July 13. The day, held in memory of former Dagenham County High pupil Dudley Moore, includes a cricket match and charity dinner.
I live in Chelmsford now but am very proud of my Dagenham roots. Not only do I return for the reunions, I’m also a big Dagenham and Redbridge FC fan and try to make as many matches as I can.
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