The image of a class in uproar stopped Gordon Nottingham pursuing a job as a teacher.
The problem wasn’t that he didn’t think he could control a class full of children, but that he feared they would laugh him out of the room – because of his stammer.
Gordon, who lives in Lowfield Avenue, Spalding, describes being “plagued” by his speech impediment, both in his school days and when he entered the workforce as an adult.
He eventually sought help from a speech therapist and the stammer has been a thing of the past for many years.
However, he has shared his story with The British Stammering Association, which has put it on its website, and with this newspaper because he says: “A stammer can be a be a big handicap because you hold yourself back. My intention is to help other people, especially children, by encouraging them to see a speech therapist. There is no need to put up with stammering.”
The impediment struck Gordon when he was a young boy and he remembers trying to hide it by not talking a great deal. Having to read aloud in class was agony as his fellow pupils “cracked out laughing”.
Teachers at the Parish Church Day School and Spalding Grammar School were sympathetic though, and quickly stopped asking him to read aloud.
He did well at school and, had his family been able to afford it, could have gone to the London School of Economics.
Instead, he says: “With my stammer and low self esteem I just let life take me along.”
He found a job that required little speech, as an accounts clerk, and eventually qualified as an international accountant.
The stammer continued to hold him back, Gordon unwilling to take on responsibilities that would involve talking to clients.
However, after a spell as a costing clerk in a factory, Gordon went back into accountancy and realised, if he was to progress and see clients, he had to seek help for his stammer.
Gordon says: “A local speech therapist came to see me. She only came three times. I think most people who stutter have low self-esteem. As I gained in confidence I realised I had no need to stutter.”