Black history month - My Role Model Every now and then I get asked the question, ‘Who was your role model when you were young?’ That question has always been a struggle for me to answer, until now.

Before, my answer was, “I didn’t have one. I just watched people who chose the wrong path in life, and did the opposite”.

I thought this ideology kept me on the straight and narrow; helped me avoid making a lot of bad decisions.

The term role-model is a fairly loose phrase. It rolls off the tongue pretty freely in association with young people. It’s the expectancy to have at least one positive person to look up to. I don’t think I fully understood what it meant until I had my daughter. I realised I needed to surround her with influential people that could guide her in the right direction. That would someday become her role-model.

I looked back on my childhood to see if I really didn’t have a role-model. There must have been one person apart from my parents who had a major influence on my life!

Then I remembered a brief conversion I had with my late grandfather, Mr Roy Williams. He lived in Jamaica for most of my life, but came to England and stayed with us for a few years when I was about 13.

You Can Achieve Anything

Every evening after dinner we had a chat around the kitchen table. Mainly because he was always the last to finish his meal. He usually ate more than everyone else.

I’m not sure what made him ask me this question, “Would you like to become a pilot?”
Whatever the case, it took me by surprise.

The thought of being a pilot had never crossed my mind. We didn’t have any friends or family members who were pilots or even worked in an airport. For this reason I believed pilots were jobs for other families, not mine.

I replied, “People like us can’t become pilot’s granddad.”

My grandfather’s smile turned upside down. He stared deep into my eyes and said, “You can be anything you what to be. You cannot let anything stop you from achieving your goals.”

As simple as these few words may seem, they have had a massive impact on my life. To this day I still believe nothing is impossible for me to achieve. I may have to work 10 times harder than my peers, but that’s the price you have to pay to succeed in life.

I have always tried to emulate my grandfather in every way. He was the first person who showed me true entrepreneurism. After being unable for find employment when he arrived in England in the 70’s, he set up his own business. He became one of the first black men in South-East London to own and run a mini-cab company. This may not seem much now, but back then it was a rarity for a black man to own a business.

I Salute You

Granddad, I salute you. You are my role model. You have shown me anything is possible. The only reason I haven’t taken over the world, is because I DON’T WANT TOO!

Mr Roy Williams, June 1940 – July 2001