There can't be many of us who do not start off in life with a birth certificate to testify to our existence. But what other certificates may we gather on our way? Engaged recently in a rigorous sorting out of files and drawers, I came across a collection of testimonials and certificates which seems to have followed me from house to house over the years.
I started with a baptismal certificate in 1927, and then there was nothing until 1942, when I became the proud owner of the Life Saving Certificate below. I recommend enlarging it and scrolling round to study some of the detail, which is fascinating.
With the certificate in its envelope was a card bearing the following message: “Owing to the restriction in the use of Metal during the War, the Royal Life Saving Society is issuing this (token) Certificate instead of the Bronze medallion to which the holder of the Certificate is entitled. If the holder will forward the Certificate after the cessation of hostilities to the Chief Secretary, it will be replaced by a Bronze Medallion suitably engraved.” I never did - I wonder if I could still do it now!
Soon after that came academic qualifications, with the School Certificate and the Higher School Certificate (the equivalent of O levels and A levels these days). Next were certificates for shorthand and typing, which have stood me in good stead throughout my working life, and also through the years of voluntary work I have done since retiring from family life. But the ones I enjoy having much more are the ones which were fun to earn, rather than hard work.
At about the time that John Travolta burst upon the world in 1979 in the film Saturday Night Fever, I started taking dancing lessons. I have certificates for Latin, Ballroom, Old Time and Scottish Country Dancing, but the one I am proudest of is the one for Disco Dancing. (I actually made it to Gold, as I did with the others, but the label didn't scan so well!)
After that the certificate for the Miss Evening Gown Competition, at Butlin's Ocean Hotel in Brighton, is a bit of a come-down really, as they were handed out like paper hankies on a weekly basis, for all the regular events like Glamorous Granny, Fancy Dress and Miss Evening Gown. This one awarded in the 1980s isn't even signed or dated!
The only certificate I have acquired since then has been one in Word Processing in 1985, and notwithstanding, it was another 14 years before I got my first computer.
What next I wonder?