Brothers John David Speake CO59 and William Guy Speake CO62 attended Truro School in the 1950s. John joined in 1952 and three years later Guy followed. Nowadays the brothers live on different continents: Guy in California, USA, and John in Queensland, Australia. Both are still in regular contact with Truro School.
John: “My time at Truro School probably gave me a sense of self-confidence – I am sure that growing up with so many gifted, competent and ultimately successful boys (there were no girls at Truro School in those days) was beneficial.”
Guy’s journey through Truro School was rather different to the ‘norm’. Having passed the 11+ exam a year early, he joined in 1955. In 1956 Headmaster Mr A. Lowry Creed (TS 1946-1959) implemented an accelerated schedule for one third of the second-year pupils which included Guy. This meant condensing five years’ learning into four years, so Guy jumped another year, taking his O-Levels at just 13!
“The accelerated programme probably helped the brightest students, but at the time it wasn’t totally beneficial for me as going into Sixth Form at 13 would have been difficult as I had no idea at the time what I wanted to do as a career.”
Guy took French, German and English for his first year in the Sixth Form, then switched to Physics, Chemistry and Biology the following year. After this, whilst still technically a member of Truro School, he spent an academic year at Alhambra High School in California, USA, on an American Field Service Scholarship.
Guy recalls the rugby and cricket being the highlights of his time at school, particularly after Mr Taylor CO43 (TS 1954 -1993) took over coaching his team.
“Truro School taught me so many things; discipline; manners; languages and social skills. The social and sports aspects were very enjoyable. I really enjoyed the dormitory plays, and especially recall ‘Skit’ on behalf of the day boys by Andy Cameron CO64 and Nigel Terry CO64.”
Following his year studying in the US, Guy returned to Truro in 1962 to study Physics, Chemistry and Zoology. He graduated alongside fellow CO62 members, John Rhys Davies (aka Henry John Davies), Mike Cooney and Christopher (Dottie) Tiltman.
After qualifying from the University of Birmingham Dental School in 1964, John worked two resident house jobs before commencing in an NHS practice in Gosport. He then became one of the ‘Ten Pound Poms’ and migrated to Australia. (Ten Pound Pom is a colloquial term used in Australia to describe British citizens who migrated to Australia after the Second World War. The Australian Government arranged for the assisted passages).
“Our parents certainly instilled a wanderlust in us, but I don’t think our Mother envisaged how far it would take us. In all honesty, at the time I viewed it as an extended working holiday for two years, travelling for only £10 (the return single fare then would have been £250) and there was full reciprocity for professional (although not all) trade qualifications.”
Once in Australia John became a registrar at the Dental Hospital of Melbourne. In 1968 he travelled to Papua New Guinea, intending to spend a couple of years working with the Public Health Department. After the first tour he was smitten and returned again and again, squeezing in a year at the University of California, Los Angeles, before returning to Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory.
“When I was offered the position of Dental Public Officer with the South Pacific Commission in Noumea, New Caledonia, I jumped at the chance to return to the South Sea Islands. I would describe my career as interesting rather than distinguished – one of the highlights, however, was winning the New Zealand Dental Journal prize for research, with my two colleagues and co-authors Terry Cutress and Tim Ball.”
John and wife Megan returned to Canberra and later moved to Queensland where they finally settled.
Guy followed a similar path to that of his older brother, studying higher education in the UK before moving abroad. He briefly considered a career in dentistry like his brother, attending Guy’s Hospital Dental School, but soon realised it was not for him. Whilst working as a bartender at the Mermaid Inn on the Isles of Scilly, he felt the hospitality industry might be a good choice and so undertook a four-year Hospitality course. “In 1968 I was among the first students to graduate with a BSc from the Hospitality Department of the University of Surrey.”
Guy then spent a year in Los Angeles at the California State University.
“I was dismayed when we had to take what they called ‘Accounting’, (transpired it was really bookkeeping), but I liked the logic of accounting, and thought that accountants probably made a lot more money than hotel managers – it transpired I was under a misapprehension.”
Guy visited the US a few times after graduating and met Dianne, an American citizen and they married in California in 1968, moving to Vancouver Island, Canada, for 18 months. However, although they made wonderful friends, Guy was not happy at work and so the couple returned to California permanently in 1970, where they remain to this day.
The brothers no longer have any family in Cornwall. Their sister, Mary, married a Queenslander whom she met whilst visiting John in Australia and so, with all their children abroad, their parents also moved to Australia when they retired. But distance has not prevented the Speake brothers keeping contact with their roots. Guy keeps in contact with lots of his friends from Truro School, particularly Mike Cooney CO62, Graham Bassett CO62, Dickie Blackburn CO61, Fred Reynolds CO63, Gareth James CO64, Stephen (Tich) Douglas CO63, Keith (George) Pester CO63, Dave Roberts CO62; and John exchanges regular emails with Les Rendell CO59, Michael Wiseman CO59, Tim Harvey CO59, Nigel Holman CO59, Brian Richards CO59 and (Thomas) Mark Harvey CO56. Guy has been ‘home’ (i.e., Truro) several times, and visited the School once many years ago as the afore-mentioned Mr Taylor had asked Guy’s father if he (Guy) would visit him.
“I did so and was delighted to see him. He obviously remembered me well and asked if I still hung around with the infamous Mike Cooney, to which I confessed.”
John has visited the School several times since leaving. In fact we were looking forward to welcoming him again in 2020 but alas our plans were dashed: “If it had not been for the Covid pandemic, I would have made a farewell tour last year, I actually got as far as Southampton.”
Both brothers are now happily retired, living in the sun. Guy and Diane live in Cameron Park, Northern California, the ‘Gold Country’, where he had an accounting practice for 24 years. They have two daughters, Genevieve and Amanda, who have dual citizenship (British / American), and four ‘delightful’ grandchildren, Macy, Adam, Brodie and Wyatt, all of whom live close by. In his free time Guy loves travelling, particularly to Greece and Mexico and plans to spend his future: “Living as long as possible and spending as much time as possible with my grandchildren.”
John, also retired, lives on the ‘Sunshine Coast’, in Queensland, with wife Megan – they have been married for 54 years. Their son David lives near Canberra, and their daughter Bronwyn, a lawyer, is a senior manager with Boeing Defence. They have two grandchildren, Charlotte, aged 13, and Jack, 9. John describes them both as “promising cricketers.”
We all hope the Speake brothers continue to enjoy their retirement for many years to come. John celebrated his 80th birthday in June 2021 – a new decade, a new adventure? We very much hope that one day soon he will be able to complete his ‘farewell tour’ and visit Truro School where a warm welcome awaits!