Autobiography: Graham Charles Cumming
I was born in Gloucester, 110 miles west of London, England on 7th May 1940. My father was serving his country in the Eighth Army Signals at Alamein during my early years, so I was brought up by my mother with considerable input from both sets of grandparents. Dad returned about the time I began school at Kingsholm Infants, and one of his early achievements was teaching me to play the ‘tin whistle’ or flageolet. I could play quite a repertoire of tunes by ear, and often performed at Talent Competitions. During my early schooldays I joined the St Mary de Lode Cub Scouts and also became a choirboy at our family Anglican Church, St. John the Baptist, Northgate Street. My father played for the Bohemians’ Cricket Club, and I often accompanied him to matches. Two memorable sixes, where a very solid ball connected with my head put me off cricket for life! However, I played for my grammar school rugby team and also for the All Blues Rugby Club, of which my father became Honorary Life President. My Scouting interests continued with appearances in the local Gang Show and achieving my Queen’s Scout award.
I spent a year as an unqualified teacher at a preparatory school in North Devon. I lived in and did after-school and weekend duties. I enjoyed cycling round the local countryside in my leisure time. Securing a place at St Paul’s Teacher Training College in Cheltenham, I took the opportunity to study Music. I played the piano ‘by ear’ and struggled learning to read music, but my earlier experience with the flageolet enabled me to pick up playing the recorder well. I began teaching at a Gloucester primary school, where my first classroom was in a temporary building referred to as ‘the hut,’ with about 35 seven-year-olds in my care. My lifelong career was launched.
I joined the basses in the choir at the family Anglican Church, but my way of life fell short of my professed beliefs. I was becoming increasingly aware of my hypocrisy, and a crisis was approaching, in which I had to face up to the truth about my inadequacies. As a Sea Scout leader I went to monthly church parades at the Mariners’ Church and attended church council meetings. A new minister was appointed. He had been an RAF padre and was keenly evangelistic. He encouraged the church to befriend the scouts and arranged a party for us. He let me know he was praying for me, and gave me Billy Graham’s book, Peace with God. As I devoured its pages in the summer of 1964 I came to understand that Jesus Christ truly is the Son of God and had died on the cross for me personally. I accepted His forgiveness and my life began afresh. I became a practising Christian and also met Patricia, who served on the church council and was the Sister in charge of a female surgery ward at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. She was beautiful with brown eyes and shapely, sun-tanned body. We fell in love and I married her the following year.
First a son and then a daughter were born to us, and Pat took a break from nursing. We moved house and settled in the suburb of Tuffley, where we joined Grange Baptist Church and later acquired leadership roles. Pat returned to nursing and I moved school to St. Paul’s Primary and then St. James’ Junior, finishing up at Grange Junior in the suburb of Tuffley. Our son settled in London to develop a musical career, and our daughter married and migrated to Australia.
At my second and third schools I was in charge of Games and Maths respectively. I was appointed with responsibility for School Journeys at my last school, and later took over Religious Education and English. I attended the Institut Britannique at the University of Paris, France for a term to refresh my conversational French, enabling me to introduce the teaching of French in the Primary School. Also I was able to use my musical skills to accompany worship in Assemblies, and for a couple of years took charge of the school orchestra. A Spelling scheme, which I researched and produced was adopted for use by the whole school, and to this I added a Tables scheme. In 1996 I was presented with my 35 years ‘Long Service Award’ by Gloucestershire County Council as I took ‘Early Retirement.’ This made it possible for me to continue teaching part-time as a Relief Teacher at numerous local schools and at ‘Kip McGrath.’ After 35 years of teaching I retired, but continued relief teaching for several years until forced to bow out with prostate cancer. Through prayer and medical intervention I was healed from this.
We visited our daughter in Australia frequently and were delighted when she produced a granddaughter for us. Three years later we were in Canberra for the birth of our grandson. In England we supported our elderly parents and Pat nursed each of them in turn through their closing years. Our daughter then encouraged us to settle in Australia. We were here in September 2004 within four months of applying, settling in the suburb of Gordon near Tuggeranong in the ACT, and we love living in this beautiful country. Pat resumed her nursing career at medical centres in Wanniassa and Phillip. After we became Australian Citizens in December 2007 she worked as a Registered Nurse for Defence at Russell in Canberra until she experienced a heart attack! We thank God for her miraculous recovery from this, and after a brief ‘retirement’ she is currently employed part-time at Tuggeranong Medical Practice.
Pat and I have put down roots in Christian City Church, ‘C3Monash,’ where we have found a great host of friends. We began getting involved there soon after we migrated, starting off by volunteering as ‘Greeters,’ then leading a ‘Connect Group’ and a few years ago were ordained as Pastors of the 50 plus demographic. Currently our main focus is facilitating our network of Connect Groups. Since coming to Australia I’ve done a number of things besides church tasks including holidays and activities with my wife Patricia, daughter Debbie and son-in-law Andy, exploits with our grandchildren Gemma and Charlie, work around the house, emailing, swimming, cycling, book writing and even Toastmasters until life became too busy!