A bit about Oliver

I was born in London and was brought up in the victorian semi my parents bought just after the War and that my mother occupied till her death in 2007. There are not many houses in London where you can literally look out from your front window and not see another house, but our's was one, right on the River Thames near Hammersmith Pier. We spent many a happy hour on and around the river, and even in it at times: sailing, canoeing, swimming, mud-wallowing and scavenging all had their place. We'd cycle up and down both banks of the river, walking dogs, visiting relatives (most of my mother's family lived nearby)

I had a very happy childhood and adored all the schools to which I was sent (The Dragon School in Oxford and Westminster School in London). I was one of four children with a fair spread of ages (my elder brother Stephen was 4 years older, Diana 2 years older and Paul was 4 years younger). One of my main interests dates from fairly early in my life. I was still pretty young when my father, Diana and Stephen got fed up playing 3-handed Bridge and introduced me to the game, thereby starting a lifelong passion that continues to this day.


At age 6 I started going to Gibbs, a pre-Prep school in Kensington. I still have my school report from this period: Spring 1962: Football: "...is inclined to get wildly excited and play without any purpose" LOL. When I was just under 8, Gibbs started teaching us Latin, which started a long road for me.

When I was 8 I was packed off to the Dragon School in Oxford, a boarding school that my Uncle John and Aunt Crystal had attended before me. I loved my time there from start to finish, even skinny-dipping in the Cherwell at 5am in the summer months. My cricket career was brutally cut short when I was 12, though, when a wild beamer from our "fast" bowler hit a bump in the ground in front of me and smashed my nose to smithereens. Academically I was adequate without showing any brilliance, but the Dragon got me started on Greek by the time I was 10 which stood me in good stead later on.

When I was 13 I moved back to London and started as a weekly boarder at Westminster School. I was placed in Liddells with the slightly ideosynchratic Charles Keeley ("Gosh!").

I very much enjoyed the years I spent at Westminster almost as much as my time at The Dragon School. I continued my progress in Latin and Greek and took up rowing as a sport (and joined Furnival Sculling Club just down the river from my parents' house, too).

I took up the Piano and Violin fairly seriously to start with and got to Grade 4 Violin and Grade 6 Piano. In time, though, drumming became my musical weapon of choice. When it came round to A Levels, Latin , Greek and Ancient History were the inevitable choices.

Greece & University

When I left Westminster I spent the best part of 2 years working as a rep for a firm of tour operators in Greece. I was set to study Classics at Manchester University and this was an ideal busman's holiday for me.

We had been on holiday to Greece as a family once and I had been on a 3-week school trip there as well.

I was fairly fluent in Greek when I started working for the Aegina Club and almost bilingual by the time I finished (pity it didn't really help my classical studies at all, because modern spoken greek and the classic variety are pretty much two completely different languages).

After my 18 months in Greece I headed up the M6 to Manchester. I was a fairly undistinguished student, being more interested in playing bridge, snooker, shooting holes in bits of paper, and travelling down to Abingdon most weekends to play drums in a rock band I was a part of. I did find some time to study and did end up getting a degree, but I was never an academic at heart. Compared to my siblings I was something of a disappointment academically (Stephen got a 2/1 in Law at Exeter, Paul a 2/1 in Physics & Chemistry at Oxford, and Diana has a PhD in Developmental Psychology from Warwick!).

One common denominator between us, however, is that not one of us ended up using our degrees. Paul is now an IT professional, Diana has indulged in a wide variety of careers (She is a very competent "chippy" [carpenter], a registered homeopath, used to run walking holidays for women, raised rare-breed goats for a while and is just taking over 3 holiday cottages in the Lake District!) and my path in life was set when I joined the Police in Manchester shortly after graduating.

Messing about in Boats

My parents lived on the banks of the River Thames in West London, and the River was always a central theme. With the exception of Paul, we all got into sailing fairly young, particularly Diana and Stephen, and many of our summer holidays were aquatic in nature, the Norfolk Broads featuring heavily to start with.

Later on my father commissioned a 50' narrowboat from Braunston Boats and Rambling Rose entered our lives. RR, as she was affectionately known, was a part of our family for over 30 years and we must have covered 90% of the UK canal system many times over during that period, some parts of it countless times. For a while the boat was moored at the Festival Marina at Stoke-on-Trent and Naomi and I used to take off by ourselves or with friends practically every weekend.

Scheduling the holiday periods was always a major logistical exercise: RR was normally in constant use between about May and the end of September and never touched her normal mooring for months at a time. Besides various members of our own family using her together or separately, friends and relatives also used her and it was often the case that we were coordinating car pickups and drops at far-flung parts of the system.

The memories from this period are quite priceless. Seeing the countryside from a narrowboat gives you a completely different perspective, particularly when you tend to think in terms of pubs per day rather than miles per hour!!!

Favourite Canals? Well I think the Leeds Liverpool has to top the list with the Llangollen 2nd and the Caldon and the Kennet & Avon tying for 3rd

The Police

Up to a week before I joined the Police I had never given the possibility a minute's thought. At the joking suggestion of a friend (whilst playing pool in my local pub) - joking because with hair halfway down my back and typical raiment of a grubby sweatshirt and patched jeans I looked anything but a suitable candidate - I went along to the then GMP headquarters in the City Centre and chatted to a retired Chief Inspector for several hours. He sold me completely on the idea and a week later I went back with hair somewhat trimmed, the benefit of a bath and wearing my only suit jacket and signed on the dotted line.

I've never regretted that decision for an instant and I've never viewed being a Police Officer as "work". Heck, for the second half of my 30 year career, GMP paid me to indulge my hobby (mucking about with computers) - I should probably have paid them for the privilege!!


My main interests are Bridge, Photography and computer programming. After playing competitive bridge at a fair high level for a fair number of years I gave up playing "face-to-face" in 1991 and now play and teach entirely online.

I got into programming around 1982 when I started off writing SQL databases with rBase 5000, but quickly branched into C and other compiled database languages. Although fluent in a number of languages, these days I tend to concentrate on creating database-driven websites using PHP.

Besides these things, horse-riding took over my life for a while and I'm very much into scuba diving when the opportunity permits. I have a PADI Open Water ticket but I don't dive in the UK, because the water is far too cold LOL!.

Caring for Naomi takes up a fair amount of my time. She suffers from a bewildering number of physical complaints as well as her depression and Borderline Personality Disorder. Although things have improved in recent years, she's still reluctant to leave the house without me in tow.


I was born into a church-going family and can never remember not heading up to St Nicholas at Chiswick on a Sunday. By the age of 8 I was going on Christian-orientated holidays run by Scripture Union, PGL and the like and started to learn about the Holy Spirit and the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus. When I was 10 my parents took us on a week-long retreat to St Mary's Convent in Wantage. I don't remember much about the place, but one summer morning I was up very early and wandering around the garden when it seemed like the most natural thing to pray that simple prayer to give my life to Jesus.

In my late teens I drifted away, though, drawn by worldly considerations and, to some extent by a subtle dissatisfaction with the liturgy-driven service the C of E then favoured. I never stopped believing, but the urge to act on my faith and accept the consequences of it had gone. That situation continued for the next 30 years, through my time in Greece and at University, and the first 2/3 of my Police career. In 2000, though, Naomi was having a really tough time with her depression, feeling trapped in the house with few real friends, and decided she'd like to start going to church. After a few false starts we landed on the doorstep of Bury Baptist Church.

I almost had to be dragged kicking and screaming into that place, fearing a hopelessly "happy clappy" atmosphere. I couldn't have been more wrong, instantly felt at home and my dormant faith was rekindled. It was that that carried me through the next few dark years while Naomi was in and out of the local psychiatric unit, regularly attempting suicide and self-harming. I was baptised in 2002 (Naomi in 2003).

We've moved house a number of times since then and passed through a number of different churches over the years. I'm still a member at the High Kirk in Stevenston (Scott Cameron, the pastor, and I occasionally lead worship together, Scott on his accordion and me on my djembe), but I also regularly attend Townhead Church in Newmilns and IVCC just over the back of the Gilfoot estate where our flat is.

These days my faith is on much more solid foundations than it was when I was 10. I am much more conscious of the importance of regular fellowship with other Christians, and the need to seek a closer walk with Jesus by studying the Scriptures and daily conversations in prayer. Attending church on a Sunday (or other days) is a reflection of my faith rather than the main component of it and which Church I attend is the least important thing of all. God isn't remotely interested in denominations.


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