Me and my school photo: Lesley Garrett remembers her Girl Guide days and being cast as Eliza Doolittle

Me and my school photo: Lesley Garrett remembers her Girl Guide days and being cast as Eliza Doolittle

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UPDATED:

22:22 GMT, 11 May 2012

Lesley pictured as a Girl Guide

Lesley pictured as a Girl Guide

This picture shows me as a Girl Guide aged about 11, shortly after I’d joined up.

I loved the Guides (I’m still a supporter) and rose to the heady heights of patrol leader. Camping was the bit I enjoyed most, especially if it involved getting together with the Scouts!

The eldest of three girls, I was born in my grandmother’s council house in Thorne, near Doncaster. Soon afterwards we moved to Waterside, on the outskirts of town.

My parents, who are both still alive,
worked at the local train station – my father, Derek, as a signalman
and my mother, Margaret, as a booking clerk.

But they studied hard, and
Dad eventually became a headmaster, while Mum became head of music in a
middle school.

I
had a very happy upbringing, and music was a constant in our home.

We
used to sing around the piano all the time – my mother is still an avid
choral singer, despite being 80.

I went to Thorne Fieldside Infant School when I was five – and loved it – and then went on to the sister Junior School.

I’ll never forget the day Mum, by then our school secretary, took over my maths class during a flu epidemic.

Leading soprano Lesley Garrett, CBE, 57, lives in London with GP husband Peter - they have two children, Jeremy, 19, and Chloe, 15

Leading soprano Lesley Garrett, CBE, 57, lives in London with GP husband Peter – they have two children, Jeremy, 19, and Chloe, 15

Beckoning me to the front of the class, she whispered, ‘Lesley, how do you do decimals’

I studied as hard as I could to get into grammar school.

After passing my 11-plus, I got ten O-levels at Thorne Grammar and was about to do science for my A-levels – but then two things happened.

I saw Madama Butterfly on my first trip to London at 16 and was blown away, and I was cast as Eliza Doolittle in a school production of My Fair Lady.

Those two experiences convinced me I had to try to become a professional singer.

My grammar school was very musical and was extremely supportive of my ambitions, giving me extra singing lessons so I very quickly got my music A-level.

Then, at 18, I won a scholarship to the Royal Academy Of Music, and my life changed forever.

Lesley Garrett’s album A North Country Lass is out now. www.lesleygarrett.co.uk