What did your childhood essays reveal about your hopes and dreams?

When you were 11, as part of the study, many of you were asked to write an essay imagining what your life would be like at 25. You may have recently seen stories about the essays in The Times, the Daily Mail, and the Daily Express.

While boys dreamed of becoming policemen, footballers and soldiers, many girls hoped to be nurses, hairdressers and air stewardesses.

In the era of early space travel, you told fascinating stories of people living on the moon, England being under the sea, and a world without war or monarchies.

Some of you imagined travelling the world, seeing exotic places, people and animals, and others among you thought you might become inventors and entrepreneurs.

Many of you had simpler dreams, and hoped to have a happy family, a nice home (maybe a bungalow) and a secure local job.

This year, we contacted a number of study members to share their essay with them and to see how their lives have unfolded.  For most, this was the first time they had seen their essay since they wrote it some 50 years ago.  We asked whether they’d fulfilled, or even surpassed, their dreams. You can read their stories below:

Claire – In her essay, Claire imagined she would be a nurse when she was 25. She had an idyllic childhood in the countryside, and after showing a flair for drawing and painting during school, she obtained a degree in art. She went on to work in social services, and then raised three children, before retraining at age 39 to become an art teacher. She spent more than 20 years in the profession before retiring last summer. Read more.

Jackie – Jackie always wanted to be a hairdresser and wrote about this in her essay. As a teenager, she was on track to fulfilling her dreams until her family relocated to a different part of the country. She had to give up her hairdressing course and went to work in a bank instead, a job she didn’t enjoy. Over the years Jackie has had various jobs. Since having a major operation, she’s stopped work to spend more time with her family, including helping out with her grandson’s childcare. Read more.

Nigel – At age 11, Nigel thought he would be an army corporal at age 25. His childhood was full of adventure, as his family went sailing, surfing and horse riding. While at grammar school, Nigel passed his English and maths ‘O’-Levels a year early, but he decided not to pursue his studies after age 16. Nigel has worked in various professions, but now feels settled as a carpenter and builder. A car and motorbike fanatic, he has been married for 30 years. Read more.

Paul – At age 11, Paul imagined he would be a lawyer when he reached 25. His unique ‘day-in-the-life’ account of his future showcased his writing ability. He grew up in a relatively deprived area, but had a group of friends who were engaged at school and enjoyed sports. He followed his older brother into journalism, working for the Telegraph and Daily Mail. He’s been married for more than 30 years and has three sons. Read more.

Sally – When Sally was age 11 she imagined she would be a nurse at age 25. Although her father was a doctor, she didn’t think girls could pursue such a career. Sally experienced tragedy as a child when her mother committed suicide days after her 11th birthday. She found stability at school, and followed in her father’s footsteps to become a doctor. Two of her children are also doctors. Read more.

Steve – At age 11, Steve imagined he would be a policeman when he reached 25. He had a tough childhood, as his family struggled financially and his father battled alcoholism. After leaving school at 16 with no qualifications, he eventually launched a successful career in the insurance industry, and then set up his own business. He has been married for 30 years and has one daughter. Read more.