Mr Lowe by Anthea Turner

19th January 2018 at 00:00
The former Blue Peter presenter recalls the secondary school teacher who taught her to embrace her creative side, despite a struggle with dyslexia

My happiest school days were definitely between the ages of 13 and 18. The fact that I was in an all-girls environment meant my teenage years were not blighted by the opposite sex.

I have always been a great supporter of single-sex schools, as my time at St Dominic’s Grammar School was not filled with drama. The fact that there were simply no boys getting in the way made going through puberty easier. My classmates and I were not vying for the attention of boys and therefore we were all quite close-knit. Being at an all-girls school meant there was no role-playing and, of course, with no sexism, we were able to throw ourselves into everything.

It wasn’t until I moved to this wonderful secondary school – that has since sadly shut down – that my dyslexia was picked up. Unlike nowadays, when it is more common and support is readily available, the condition was hardly recognised in the 1970s and so I just got on with things.

I loved everything about my school but being dyslexic meant I felt more at home in the pottery room. This was thanks to my teacher Mr Lowe, who not only taught me the art of creating pottery but also the history of it. The fact I lived in Stoke meant I was steeped in history and I loved hearing about the area and its industrial heritage. Mr Lowe let me use the pottery room whenever I wanted to and there was something about throwing clay onto the wheel that brought out the creative side in me.

Slow learner

I was quite a slow learner and had difficulty getting to grips with some subjects. The school realised I was struggling – but rather than hold me back, they let me try to do my best.

I think it helped that, although I was at a grammar school, the state helped pay for some of the pupils’ education, so I mixed with all sorts of people from different financial backgrounds, some of whom also had learning difficulties – and pottery with Mr Lowe helped, too, of course.

I recently did some filming for Celebrity Antiques Road Trip that took me back on a trip to my home town where I visited the Middleport pottery factory that has been restored, thanks to the Prince of Wales Trust. I loved the fact I was able to remember my pottery-making skills from Mr Lowe’s lessons. In fact, Chris Moyles bought one of the pots I made in Middleport off me for charity. The other one is proudly displayed in my home.

I wish Mr Lowe had been around to see the programme, but he died a few years ago of a heart attack. I think being dyslexic made me think outside the box and Mr Lowe encouraged me to follow a passion for the arts, which no doubt helped me in my TV presenting career.

Once I moved to London in my 20s, I lost touch with many of my close school friends, but through the wonders of social media, I have reconnected with some of them.

I have always loved making things, which is what led me to my latest venture, working with beautiful objects to create a gift subscription service. I’m glad to say that my A level in pottery, craft and design has served a very useful purpose.

Anthea Turner was speaking to Suzanne Baum

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