Preston circa 1970 as seen through the eyes of a boy
Samuel Michael MD Soto was born in January 1964, and fostered at Preston by Alec
and Joy Bond.
Sam attended Preston School from January 1969 until 1972, when he moved to Bedfordshire.
He was serving as a sergeant in the American Air Force when he sent the following
Thank you for this wonderful site. I have learnt a lot from it about 'My Village'
and reading it makes me a little homesick even though I have left Preston over forty
some years ago - but my heart always belongs there.
I was talking to some US Air force Airmen. They mentioned how tough they have it
in today’s society. It was
then I told them, ‘Think about being the ONLY Mexican-Spanish kid in a school!!!’
I believe I was the only one in Preston, even though the Bond Family had black foster
child who also went to the School.
When I was young, I looked like a typical black Irish/Scot. I went through many
hair colour changes over the years but while at Preston, I had regular brown hair
(I don't remember School photo's back in the day, but it
would be cool to know if there was one from 1969-72).
The thing I liked about Preston School was the lack of prejudice - I only saw it
when I went to Bedford.
I have fond memories of the friends I made there and also a villager I knew in Bedford.
Even though we went
to schools together, we were never firm friends but we shared crucial moments in
our lives - his Mum's
funeral and the death of the priest that baptised us both. His name was John Palmer.
My dear childhood friends were Ian & Robert Currell, ‘the Twins’. From what I gather
from the Harveys, Ian
joined the Army and lives in Colchester and Robert became a farmer. When children,
it was a dream of ours
to be farmers. Michael Harvey was also a good friend and from what I understand,
his family bought the
village shop and changed it into a house.
I also had a childhood sweetheart, Tracey Sharp. She was the first girl I kissed
and that made me very
popular. I didn’t know then how important they were to the village and finding out
now has given me more
pride in the village where I was from. I hope to go back when I get out of the Military
some time next year
and, one day, to show the village to my future wife and maybe stay at the Red Lion
for a few days.
I went back last year and even though there had been some little changes, Preston
still had its look from
more than forty years ago. I hope one day to have some of my remains buried there,
as it is the place I
still call home - it was the place where I was accepted as a person and not for where
I was from or how
I got there. I am not sure if you have contacts with the names I have mentioned,
but if on the off chance
you do, it is nice to know they have never been forgotten by me.
Thanks for this site.
As for memories they were all good. I am too old too remember that far back but I
do have flashbacks and was shocked the old school/youth club was closed then pulled
down; Bunyan’s chapel being converted into a business office and then, last year
the Harvey's converting the only shop we had back into a house.
When I was young I was a bit of a bully/thug - yep, a 5-year-old, but I put it down
being in a large foster family I guess. All I can say is that being in the village
was a good growing place for a child - the woods, the tight community and all-round
beauty of Preston.
I remember the paraffin man coming around, selling paraffin and candy from the truck;
the mobile butcher who also played cricket with the local team and the day he got
a nice shiner from getting hit in the face with a ball. II also remember this old
lady who used to teach Sunday School at the Chapel - she always wore a her best dress
and a hat that looked like a silver pork pie.
On Chequers (Lane?) there was a special needs adult. The coolest people were some
teens who lived
behind the School. I say cool because they had been affected by the drug thalidomide.
The boy had bowed
arms and the girl had a hand where her arm should have been She used to talk about
how she had been in
an accident and her arm was re-growing - see, cool! She and her brother were close
to the Bonds and
helped with the youth club.
The thing I missed was the country dancing the school taught, the Christmas parties
at the school and the
spring festivals we had, when steam engines came for the fetes .
As for me and the Currell twins and Michael Harvey, we were good friends even though
the one time I had punched Michael on the nose and almost got a caning.
I remember Mrs Robinson, my Infants’ teacher, who changed my handwriting from left
to right. I just hope I turned out better than I had started.
I remember also the first major death of a boy who was Kathryn Bond’s boyfriend.
He was knocked off his
bike and killed by the corner house as you come on to Chequers (Lane). It was tough
because the person
who did it owned the construction/ handyman business on the street in front of the
school close to the
Harvey’s house. At that corner too, my foster bother Ashley broke his leg.
I wonder what happened to Tracey Sharp. I prayed that, along with ‘the Twins’ and
Michael, she had grown
up well and married a good guy (I was hoping Ian ), and had a handful of children.
Every time I hear Hot Chocolate's song, It Started With a Kiss, it makes me think
of her - and the song, Seasons in The Sun reminds me of Preston as a whole.
I know they all have families and children. As for me, I hope that when I get remarried,
my wife will fill the
gap that Preston left in my heart.
When I am done with the US Military, I hope to donate a photo and a frame with my
ribbons and medals to Preston School, as if to say, ‘you too can be someone even
if you come from a small village’.
Forward: Alec and Joy (nee Catherell) Bond married at Luton in the summer of 1955.
They moved to Preston in the late 1950s and lived at Hill Farm Cottage (now Reeves
Cottage) until the the early 60s when they moved to 24 Chequers Lane - one of the
Swedish houses. In the 1980s, they moved to 4 Templars Lane.
Alec and Joy had four children: Kathryn Joy (born 1956), Gareth R (1958), Ashley
J (1962) and Alistair James(1970).