HAVING heard Ms Ayres speak in Cirencester I turned again to her memoir The Necessary Aptitude, what a wonderful read it is.

Pam was a child of the 1950s and early 60s and she speaks so truly about growing up in a large family where there was abundant love but minimal money.

Toilet arrangements were basic as for many years her house had no bathroom.

In addition there was the education lottery, known as the Eleven Plus.

A couple of hours one morning meant a grammar school education or one in a secondary modern school. Many of such schools were no doubt worthy, but few could be called centres of scholarship. Read the chapter about Farringdon Secondary Modern School and you will see what I mean.

Laurie Lee wrote about his childhood some thirty years before Ms Ayres and his writing is of the highest quality but his time is more distant now.

The Necessary Aptitude tells of a time when we were there, fighting the same battles and striving for a future. We know who helped us on our way, and I hope we all said thank you. For some there is still time.

Pam, when Opportunity Knocks bought fame and undreamed wealth writes: “I knew that much of my parents' life had been a long hard struggle and that cash had been desperately short”. Read what she did for them and you will be undoubtedly moved.

Lessons for all of us leap out - the most important being keep going believe in yourself and true to yourself as well. Never be ashamed of your background, or perceived limitations, just do your best, and above all keep your local accent.

Remember it was good enough for your parents and friends.

At school a well-meaning English teacher stood Brian Nash, John Warren and I in front of the class. Her aim was to rid us of our West Country accents. Happily she failed totally.

Good for you Pam Ayres in remaining a true daughter of Stanford in the Vale. Will you be its first Dame? I await the New Year Honours List.