How would you describe your time at the Blue Coat?
Very happy. I have a treasure trove of fond memories and outrageously funny stories. My year group was full of characters and real quality lads, a good number of whom are still my close friends to this day. I was fortunate to represent the school at football and cricket for all 7 years and that went a long way to making the experience highly enjoyable. Even though I never set the world on fire academically, I enjoyed the learning process, made the most of whatever my teachers could offer, always did my best and managed to achieve sufficiently high a standard to pass all 4 ‘A’ Levels and go on to get a degree that provided a solid foundation to build a happy and rewarding life. Overall I’d say that our year group at the Blue Coat managed to have a lot of fun, while still getting the job done. I am sure that the school helped us learn how to achieve that important and sometimes elusive balance.
How did your experience at the Blue Coat prepare you for your career?
More than just preparing me for a career, the Blue Coat did a great job of preparing me for life. In fact I never realized just how valuable my time at the Blue Coat was for me until after I had left the school. It was only then, when I was exposed to the wider world, that I became aware of the many life skills that I had acquired. Looking back now, I can see that the school played a critical part in improving my self-belief and thereby influenced me to be more prepared to ‘have a go’ at whatever opportunities came my way, including wanting to challenge myself by living outside the UK – and my comfort zone! When I entered the Blue Coat I was just a quiet, working class boy from down the road in Wavertree. By the time I left I had a real hunger for something more. At the time I didn’t know what, but I did know that I had to go out and find it.
What has been your path since leaving the Blue Coat?
I went to Liverpool Polytechnic (now John Moores University) to study for a BA Degree in Languages and Modern European Studies, which included a 4-month spell at the Sorbonne, University of Paris, France, and 4-months at the University of Valencia, Spain. After graduating I worked for Marks & Spencer as a trainee manager for about 18 months, until I stumbled upon a golden opportunity to relocate to Barbados by accepting a teaching position. No brainer! I thoroughly enjoyed 14 years as a teacher, including the last 6 as Headmaster, before joining my wife Sally in developing our own business, Miller Publishing Company. I have been a permanent resident of Barbados since 1978.
What do you do now?
Today Miller Publishing produces high quality tourism guides, the Ins & Outs of Barbados, the Ins & Outs of Trinidad & Tobago, the Ins & Outs of St. Vincent & The Grenadines, Barbados in a Nutshell, Visit Barbados and a wide range of high quality coffee-table books, as well as our website MyDestinationBarbados.com. We also launched another company, Caribbean Business Publications, which produces Business Barbados, BusinessBarbados.com, the Business Barbados E-Book and Business Trinidad & Tobago. Over the course of the years, Sally and I have been jointly awarded with The Ernst & Young Entrepreneurs of the Year for Tourism in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean; the Minister of Tourism’s Special Award for Contribution to the Development of Tourism in Barbados; and the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
I enjoy ‘giving back’ to society and I am a Founder Member of the Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation.
My most recent new venture has been to write, produce and launch a book in the UK, based on the Academy System in Premier League Football: ‘Steven Gerrard, Michael Owen and Me’ – Mike Yates Tells His Story.
What would be your advice to students at The Blue Coat today?
Have fun and enjoy your life to the full. Never complain about what’s going on in your life and never blame other people when things go wrong – which they will. Instead, keep moving forward and make the most of whatever opportunities come your way. Never be afraid to try something new and always be willing to challenge yourself and to keep raising the bar of your own standards. Be good to people at every opportunity.