Sandra Speller (nee Glaysher)
My name is Sandra Speller (nee Glaysher) and I have worked for the NHS locally for the past 32 years, firstly as a Physiotherapist and I am currently the Associate Director of Allied Health Professionals for Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust, covering the whole of West Sussex, Brighton and Hove and large parts of East Sussex.
I attended Collyer’s between 1981 and 1983. I was part of the first year of comprehensive education in Horsham, and although I think girls had been admitted to the 6th form the previous year, we were the first year that did not include boys who had been through secondary education at Collyer’s, and all pupils came from Millais, Forest, or Tanbridge House School. I studied A Level Biology, Physics and Chemistry and AS Maths at Collyer’s. My Maths teacher was still there when my daughter was looking at 6th form colleges 25 years later! My favourite was Biology as I loved it, particularly the Human Biology and even the dissections. I had loved Physics at Millais as I had the most amazing teacher, but unfortunately my teacher at Collyer’s was not quite so inspiring or interesting.
My abiding memories of Collyer’s are many. I have always been a tomboy and so felt much happier joking around with “the lads” although it was very funny how all the girls from Millais wore their party outfits, best gear and heavy make up in the first few weeks. Our previous Head teacher would never allowed that level of make up at Millais. I liked being in my tutor group as we had the tutor teach us Latin for O level at Millais and he reminded us all of a truly absent professor, rushing in, still with his bicycle clips around his trousers twice a week. He was so lovely and really looked after us when we started at Collyer’s, and it was lovely to catch up with him 23 years later when he taught my daughter Latin GCSE!
I enjoyed sport at Collyer’s, playing in the badminton team for Collyer’s at Christs Hospital on a Wednesday afternoon and sitting in their large dining hall sharing sandwiches. Playing squash on a Friday morning at the Sunallon Club. We were taken by my first Biology teacher at Collyer’s, and I remember beating him at squash, which didn’t go down well at all. Also Collyer’s is the reason I stopped playing hockey, which I had enjoyed at Millais, playing in the school team. Playing mixed hockey at Collyer’s was very dangerous. Many of the boys had never played before and were smashing balls all over the place. I spent two Wednesday afternoons in a row over at the hospital in minor injuries with very badly bruised and swollen fingers, so quickly made the decision that hockey was no longer for me!
I remember a massive snowball fight. During one of the winters, when I was at Collyer’s we had quite a good amount of snow fall and I can remember a large number of us going over the road to the park and having an epic snowball fight, which was brilliant fun. I would imagine my mum was not too happy with the dirty clothes when I got home. I also have fond memories of walking up to the fish and chip shop by the station every Friday lunchtime. I remember one particular time when I was showing off to my friends and dancing down the middle of Hurst Road unaware a police car was following me, much to my friend’s delight. I got a proper telling off and stayed on the pavement after that.
The skiing holiday to Italy was brilliant fun and we all saw the teachers in a new light. We were treated as adults and just had the best time. I have lasting memories of a fancy dress party and some interesting combinations that some of the students had pulled together!
Collyer’s has without doubt helped my career and taught me so many life skills, giving me confidence to engage with many different people, which was so important for me in my university interview, and when I started engaging with patients during my studies. It gave me the grades I needed to go to university and study Physiotherapy – and most of all it showed me that making tough, pragmatic decisions is sometimes necessary to get what you want or need out of life. I only needed a B and a C to take up my place for physiotherapy. I knew I could have got much better results and would have done if I had been allowed to study French, but I didn’t need to. I ended up qualifying in the top 10 physiotherapy candidates nationally and have gone on to lecture at national level and gain a top job in healthcare. No-one knows or cares that I only got 2 A levels.
It also gave me my love of learning, teaching me to be inquisitive and explore further into topics that interest me, which continues to this day.