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In The Spotlight > In The Spotlight > In The Spotlight: Russ McAnulla

In The Spotlight: Russ McAnulla

Russ McAnulla (1956 - 1963)
Russ McAnulla (1956 - 1963)

Tell us what you do now. Has your time at the School influenced your life today? 

My time at BMS totally transformed me from a shy council-house boy to a confident school leaver, and launched me into a very enjoyable and fulfilling 58 year career leading to my present status as “Retired”. 

This career started out as a student apprenticeship with the Electricity authority which saw me through university and research degrees. I was subsequently appointed as Marketing Manager for Clive Sinclair’s company, Sinclair Radionics, to launch the world’s first pocket calculator. In the mid 70’s I became fed up with the UK in the time of power shortages, and the 3 day week, and became MD of a radio manufacturing company in Malawi, taking my wife and young children with me for a wonderful time which made us love southern Africa and its peoples. After Rhodesia obtained its independence in 1980, and became Zimbabwe, I was appointed MD of GEC out there, and was responsible for electrifying Zimbabwe Railways, revamping the Hwange and Kariba Dam power stations, and renewing the national telephone network. After this I was transferred to GECs Manchester offices, but after a couple of boring years, I left to become MD of an electronics company in the south of England designing sub-sea acoustics equipment, mainly for the off-shore oil industry. Finally, in the ‘90s, I launched my own company, specialising initially in software for on-line payment schemes for various banks. In 2005 the UK government introduced a scheme whereby companies needed to have the energy efficiency of their buildings certified, which gave me the chance to become a consultant environmental-energy assessor to help persuade companies to reduce their energy consumptions, and thus help save the planet! 

So I retired at the age of 76 in October 2021, hoping that I had done enough to keep the world alive for my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.  My main hobby is choral singing, but I am taking up rifle shooting again, 60-odd years after I was secretary of the School shooting team. 

Tell us about your time at BMS. Do you have any special memories you would like to share? 

I was a very shy boy, and made little impression on my teachers at primary school, who told my parents not to expect me to pass the 11+. Luckily I was reasonably good at examinations, and did pass, ending up in “1B1”.  Seating in class during the first 4 years was enforced generally in alphabetical order, which, during these initial years, resulted in me being at the back of the class, and coming almost bottom of the class in most subjects. However in year 5 we were allowed to sit where we wanted, and I moved myself to the front row of desks. Magically, with no additional mental effort on my part, in the 1st term I moved from the bottom five to the top five of the class, and stayed there!  Lesson to be learned…push yourself forward to succeed! 

Special things then began to happen which now trigger happy memories:- I made it into the Colts VIII; I started shooting seriously in the CCF; I started gliding and achieved my “wings”; I was awarded a Flying Scholarship by the RAF, and won my Private Pilot’s Licence; I was promoted to Head of the RAF section of the CCF; I made it directly from the Colt VIII to the 1st VIII in the 1st year 6th, and was made “secretary” of both the Boat Club and the shooting team.  A truly wonderful climax to my time at BMS. 

Who was someone from your time at BMS who had an impact on you any why? 

I had many friends among the other pupils at BMS, but the friend who stands out was David Burton. He was my 2ic in the RAF section, and won a flying scholarship at the same time as I did; so we ended up learning to fly together at Cranfield. We both considered joining the RAF as a career, but in the end I opted for the civilian sector, and only he joined the RAF. Four years later, on the morning of my wedding day, I learned the devastating news that he had just been killed in a horrific accident while flying a Shackleton in Scotland. I still do not remember much of the subsequent wedding. 

From a staff point of view, the two that I was most influenced by were Joe Greenwood, who was head of the CCF, and provided both support and inspiration for my life in the CCF and shooting team; and Fred Rawlins the 1st VIII rowing coach, whose belief in my abilities helped my bolster my self-belief, and thus helped the subsequent gaining of a place in the London University 1st VIII, and my captaincy of my own college’s boat club. 

What do you like to do in your spare time? 

For the last ten years my main spare time activity was singing in a community choir. Now that I have retired I am having to struggle to adapt to all this new-fangled “Spare time”!  My wife is an artist, and I have organised her works into a “virtual gallery” which our friends can access, and look at, her paintings. I have also started shooting again, and luckily do not seem to have totally lost my old skills, so it should be fun once I can get to competition level again. I have also joined U3A, the “University of the Third Age”, where I will hunt out groups of similarly minded folk to develop our group interests. 

What advice would you give your younger self? 

Never treat adversity and setback as negatives in your life, but rather an opportunity to go in a better direction. Often in life it is all too easy to sit back in the same old job, and not be bothered to look around for better things for your life’s direction. Being sacked is the trigger that you will sometimes need! 

Don’t get hung up about achieving a massive string of letters after your name; much of the time, people who do that are incapable of exceptional work in non-academic environments. Most employers will be looking for achievements and successes in real world, rather than scholastic, situations. So work hard to achieve such credentials. 

Take risks. Sometimes you will fail, but even then you will gain from the experience. Remember the old saying…”No pain, no gain”! 

Are there any other thoughts you would like to share with the OBMs and BMS community? 

Get out there and enjoy life…you only have one, so don’t waste it.

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