Geoffrey - I owe your father a huge apology, as I had forgotten to come back to the message board until this week; I am so sorry. I spoke again yesterday to my father, Alec Novis, who asked me to send back this to Jim.
"I never really worked hard at my education at Skinners, even though I got to matriculation standard, with distinction. I don't think I was a very good pupil, and had no contact with the school since. I left in 1931, when Col. Bye contacted my parents to say that Messrs Sainsbury were offering jobs to suitable boys, and was taken on at their Croydon store, where I stayed for 6 years, until I joined the RAF in 1937 under the Forces Expansion scheme. I trained as an Armourer Instructor, and served for 22 years, then joined the Civil Service".
I think yesterday was a bad day for my father, as he is beginning to fail a little, but he was so pleased to hear from you and your father. He sends his very best wishes to Jim, and was full of admiration for what he thinks was a better student! I think that Dad did very well at Skinners, he gained a scholarship to go there aged 11, at a time when snobbery was rife; he won many prizes at Skinners for Mathematics, and gained further scholarships at 16, but his parents did not tell him as this was a time of great hardship, so had to go to full-time work.
Best wishes, Catherine