PEARTREE LIFE: Experiencing Languages

It is not ONLY about English and definitely NOT about age...

Laurence May has been a student at Peartree Languages for almost four years. Laurence is 89 years old and is still full of energy for learning the French language or traveling around the world. We are lucky enough to chat to Laurence every week, some students may also have met him on our social programme. Now we would like to share more with you about this interesting man and his life experience. 

This week in English, coming soon...the French translation! 

Laurence and his French teacher Sophie at Peartree Languages
Laurence May was born on 4th March 1926, in London.

His first memory is from January 1928, when there were floods in Chelsea, London. Laurence remembers being on a bus and seeing the street disappearing under the water.

In September 1937, he got a scholarship to study at Hampstead in a private school. Two years later, the Second World War began.

Young Laurence 
In the daytime, during the summer of 1940, the German army launched air raids in Great Britain. Laurence was scared after sunset when London was in flames. One night, 2-3 months later, a bomb came down next to his house. This time, he slept under a piano in the basement.

During the war Laurence continued to go to school as usual but sometimes, during air raid attacks, children had to hide in the basement where classes resumed.

In October 1943, Laurence began his studies at Cardiff University, where he studied civil engineering for two years. In the autumn of 1944, he met his future wife.

The following year, in October, he was recruited in the army; in the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent regiment.

Laurence as a soldier in Egypt in 1946
He undertook six weeks initial training in bombs, rifles, engineering and mines. Then, he spent twelve weeks in Preston, training as an engineer to build bridges. Then he trained in Newark to become an officer, followed by four weeks in Chatham at the headquarters of engineers. Laurence had nine months of training in total.

In August 1946, Laurence worked with the army in Alexandria, in administration of soldier boarding and landing. Then he chose to spend the next six months in Athens, Greece. He worked with boarding and landing of soldiers of ships for the British Army in Piraeus and in Thessaloniki.

In May 1948, Laurence returned home to Great Britain. His first job was in Port Talbot as a civil engineer to design a steel factory. In 1949, he moved at the company’s head quarter in London. 

Laurence got married to Joan in December of 1949, in Cilfynydd; Joan’s village. The following January they had their honeymoon in Oxford.

Laurence with his son
A year later, Laurence returned to Port Talbot and worked for Atkins. In 1954, he moved to Warrington near Manchester and worked for Monks where he was involved in the construction of bridges, roads, airports, hospitals and big refineries. In August the same year, John, Laurence’s son, was born. 10 years later, Laurence became chief engineer.

In 1978, Laurence returned to Cardiff. He got a job with the Welsh Development Agency in Treforest, but he left the work 4 years later.

In 1982, Laurence went back to Monks in Cardiff in Henstaff House. Laurence went into retirement in 1991 and in 2011, he restarted French classes at Peartree Languages.

In 2014, he crossed the Atlantic on the Queen Mary to visit New York and the American continent for the first time.

Laurence on the Queen Mary boat in 2014

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About Peartree Languages

Peartree Languages is a language school located in Cardiff.


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