My best teacher - Edith Bowman

23rd April 2010 at 01:00
The DJ and broadcaster was glad of a guiding hand to help keep her on the right track

I'm from a small fishing village called Anstruther - in Fife, Scotland - and most of the teachers were from the area. Everybody knew everyone, which can sometimes work against you. But not in my case with this teacher. Mrs Nee tried to keep me on the straight and narrow. She was my class teacher in Year 6, and kept an eye out for me. She had a great collection of blouses, with some kind of tie round the neck, and tweed skirts. She was fashionable and always immaculate.

I wasn't the easiest child in the world. You get to an age and boredom sets in when there are not enough things to inspire or motivate you. I definitely found that in the last year or two of primary school. Where I grew up, there never seemed to be enough to keep me occupied and you would look towards the negative side of things to find that excitement.

Mrs Nee would always try to make me see the positive instead of the negative, and try to encourage me to do what I wanted to do.

I found her so honest - it was just being upfront. I don't think enough people do that with kids. She wouldn't try to handle me with kid gloves and didn't give me an easy time. Once, a guy from my school caught me and a friend smoking and told Mrs Nee. I knew she would tell my mum as she knows my family really well. I remember going home that day and I went into the kitchen crying: "I'm sorry!" It's probably the best thing she could have done.

My family ran a hotel, and I always felt older than my years as I was always around older people. I helped out at the weekends from a very early age and Mrs Nee would come to the hotel every Saturday night with her husband, Bob. They would have a bar supper and a drink so I had a double- edged relationship with her. I would have a chat with her and Bob when I had finished my shift.

Growing up in the hotel environment, I got quite a bit of stick from other kids. They made assumptions about our lifestyle, calling me the rich kid, which was so far from the truth. Mrs Nee helped with all that and taught me not to take any notice of it. That has definitely stuck with me - taking people's opinions of you with a pinch of salt. When I first started out, I got such negative feedback about my accent. People said I needed to go to elocution lessons. I just said: "No chance."

I needed to remain true to myself, let alone the people I broadcast to. And that comes back to being real and honest - being who you are rather than trying to be someone else. Mrs Nee also taught me not to take no for an answer. If you believe in something and want it enough, you can put the work in and in time you will get the benefits.

Even since I moved away from Anstruther, I have kept in touch with Mrs Nee. Her daughter runs the local fish and chip shop - which serves the best fish and chips in the world - and I check in to see how she is when I'm home. I never call her Cath or Cathy. She is always Mrs Nee.

Edith Bowman appears in `The Youth of Today Show', a current affairs webcast led by young people, alongside Craig David, Dame Kelly Holmes and Lord Sugar at www.theyouthoftoday.orgwebcast. She was talking to Meabh Ritchie.


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today