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When Wesley Went to Winchester



United Kingdom


World News




In 1970, broadcaster Wesley Kerr was awarded a County Bursary to study at the prestigious public school Winchester College. Forty years later, he opens the gates of memory and attends a special reunion to find out what happened to the other bursary boys and explores the scheme's attempts at 'social engineering.' From a working class background, Wesley was a black foster child growing up in Hampshire. With the odds against him, he passed the exam and interview and took the opportunity that was presented to him, later becoming the BBC's first black television reporter and royal correspondent. His early success even made the national press - one newspaper headlined 'Coloured Boy Wins place at Public School'. For Wesley and many of these boys, they were parachuted into a new life at one of Britain's top public schools. The national bursary scheme, initiated by Winston Churchill, MP Rab Butler and Lord Fleming, ran from 1947 to 1974, after a request by Churchill that a quarter of public schools places were to be taken by state school boys and were funded by the local education authority. A number of other schools such as Eton and Rugby also gave bursaries. At the unique springtime reunion, Wesley meets over thirty former pupils, who include a former judge, the man who's designing the new Routemaster bus and the Bishop of Gibraltar. With stories of strange accents, public school pranks and those who struggled to fit into an alien environment, Wesley hears how the experience gave them new opportunities and shaped their lives. Producer: Tamsin Barber.



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