Charity & social welfare

Bruce, Ian (1 of 13) National Life Stories: Pioneers in Charity and Social Welfare

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  • Subjects

    Disability; Visual impairment; Charity marketing

  • Recording date

    2013-12-18, 2014-01-08, 2014-01-15, 2014-01-27, 2014-02-03

  • Recording locations

    The British Library

  • Interviewees

    Bruce, Ian 1945- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Brodie, Louise (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 1: [45:19] Session One 18 December 2013 Ian Bruce was born in Southampton in 1945. Father’s father died when father was only about 12. He had to take a clerical job instead of becoming a professional on the railways. He was keen for IB to do well. His father had risen high. Details. Mother’s father was a tram inspector. So IB’s parents had a good launchpad but had setbacks. Mother passed the exam for the grammar school but could not go due to lack of money. IB’s background was therefore lower middle class. [6:10] IB’s paternal grandfather was apparently quite aggressive. Story. Father was gentle and reasonable, never prejudiced. Mother was mercurial with a good sense of humour. She was given a job in the bank during the war. She was a procrastinator. When IB was about 11 she got a job as a part time school secretary. She was very able. Father felt some embarrassment at his wife working, but did not stand in her way. [15:22] IB was an only child. His parents did not want to bring a child into the world till nearly the end of the War. It was a difficult birth with complications, and they wanted to give their one child all they could. It was a happy marriage and they were supportive of each other. They did not read to IB and there were virtually no books in the house. Story. Only an old gramophone. IB can remember when he first started to read. Incident. He became an avid reader. [24:25] Mother worked for a builder at one time and this man guaranteed the loan for their house. It was a new build in 1938. The house, description. Three bedrooms and bathroom, lounge and coke boiler in the kitchen. Garden at the back, and a little one in front. Double garage though they only got their first car in about 1965. [27:43] It was on the edge of Portswood and Highbury, Southampton. The road they were in had a hill which played a huge part in IB’s life. He remembers sledging down it and making a trolley to run down it, so it was used winter and summer. His primary school had outside lavatories which froze so they could not go to school for some time and they made the most of the hill. Also there was a rough piece of land which was a play area near their house then another, a bomb site, a bit further away, so he was a bit older before he was allowed to play there. There was Chris and John and Michael who lived close by and they played together regularly. Jack Lott had a horse and cart which brought lots of builders’ rubble to dump on the play area. Very exciting for small boys. It was a free existence. [36:19] The life determinant was the choice of primary school. Portswood school up the hill served a poor catchment area. Everyone had to take the 11+ It was hoped that IB would go to the grammar school. Only 2 children might go from Portswood. Highbury primary school was further away but had better teachers and supportive parents. IB’s mother got IB into this better school. It was a Victorian built school, warm and comfortable except for disgusting lavatories. IB went into the reception class in the summer term of 1950. He moved up in the autumn and was overwhelmed by the noise of the children. In about the third year it got more formal and it was found that he had short sight and needed to wear glasses. In the last two years they were tested and IB was always in the top ten.

  • Description

    Life story interview with Ian Waugh Bruce CBE, FRSA, CCMI (b.1945), Director General of the Royal National Institute of Blind People (1983-2003), vice-president of the RNIB and founder of the Centre for Charity Effectiveness at City University, London

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