Bolton School Former Pupils

Len Vickers

Len Vickers (1953-1960), former School Captain

I was born in 1942 in Daubhill, Bolton. My father was a self-employed slater and my mother a housewife. I had two older sisters – in the warm language of Daubhill, “our Audrey” and “our Dorothy”. I attended Brandwood St Primary School, and when the results of the 11-Plus exam came through I told people I had gotten into “The County Grammar School” – my sister’s school. I had never heard of “Bolton School”!

After Bolton School, where I was School Captain, I attended Downing College, Cambridge – Headmaster FR Poskitt’s old college, and read Modern Languages (French and German). I played a lot of soccer, had an active social life and didn’t study enough!

I was intrigued by the relatively new field of “Marketing” and Unilever offered me a place in their Marketing Program, which I deferred for two years, first to be a Tour Guide in Europe and then to bum around the US, including working on Civil Rights in the Deep South/Mississippi. Finally summoned by Unilever to get serious, I came back to England to work as a Product Manager for Birds Eye Foods. I later moved to New York to work in Advertising, then joined my client, GE, to reposition the company under Jack Welch, their new Chief Executive. Subsequently, I built a Consultancy specializing in positioning and repositioning, and worked for Xerox for several years as their SVP Worldwide Marketing.

I am now retired in Connecticut, US, with my Swedish wife. We have four children and several grandchildren. With hindsight, my interest has always been leadership, whether transactional or transformational.

What is your connection to Bolton school? Were any other members of your family at school here?

I’ve been connected to Bolton School, first as a Bursary Student, then as a Fund Raiser in the early days of the Bursary Fund. More recently, three of my grand-nephews – Jordon, Coby and Jamie Lambert – have attended or are happily attending Bolton School

What is your fondest Bolton School memory?

I have many fond memories of characters at Bolton School (i.e. personalities and idiosyncrasies) in Soccer… the Theater/Stage Crew… and Camps. But my deepest and most abiding memory is of underlying character and decency, the moral quality.

Did any member of the teaching staff particularly inspire you while you were at school?

Many did. That was the strength of Bolton School. But FR Poskitt, the Headmaster, stood out. As School Captain, I probably saw him more than most. He was Churchillian (my other big hero) and a very decent man.

What do you feel your experience at Bolton school has given to you personally?


What is the best career advice you can give to Bolton school pupils today?

 Discover (or uncover) what you like and what you are good at, and focus, focus, focus. Be cognizant of relevance in today’s digital world.

What do you think about Bolton School’s 100 Campaign’s aim to establish genuine open access through its bursary fund?

I am 1000% for it, and am embarrassed to acknowledge that I didn’t know Open Access had become an issue. Open Access is a sine qua non for “Excellence in Education”. The Latin root of “Education” is “educare” – not to “put in” but to “bring out” – to release innate capacities. This is what Bolton School should stand for.

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