I was born and raised in Ipswich and as a young boy attended Clifford Road Primary School. It seems I must have shown sufficient promise because the Headmistress of Clifford Road, Miss Gage, to whom I shall always be grateful, put in a word to the authorities and I was awarded a town scholarship to Ipswich School. My parents, who came from a modest background, willingly accepted the sacrifices they would have to make, even with the scholarship, to send me there. My gratitude to them will never be enough.
I felt then, and still feel now, incredibly privileged to have attended Ipswich School.
One master has a particular spot in my affection: Peter Marsden. He was a great man, and a lover of the arts. He introduced me to music and acting. He had been at King’s Cambridge, and he encouraged me to apply there. So I applied, sat for the exams and was awarded a Major Foundation Scholarship.
I was the first member of my family to go to university and once again my dear parents supported me through the next three years.
I read French and German (I seem to have had a talent for languages) and some of the happiest times of my life were at Cambridge. My eyes were opened to a whole different world.
My ambition was to join the BBC and eventually did so, ending up as a producer in Music and Arts television. I worked there for 30 years. Since then I have been active in the dance world, on the Arts Council, on the Board of the Royal Opera House, and as Chairman of Birmingham Royal Ballet. In 1999 I had the honour of being awarded CBE for services to the arts.
So I have enjoyed a varied and exciting career. It is impossible to know what life would have been like without the splendid rounded education which Ipswich School gave me at the outset. For that I shall always be immensely grateful.
Colin Nears CBE