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Michael Gerson (OH 1951) - Confidence
12/05/2016
Michael Gerson moved to London to join The Hall in 1943 and one of his first memories was waking up to find himself covered in broken glass. A German aircraft had dropped a bomb during the night and all the windows in the street had shattered.
These days we all count down the minutes until lunch time at The Hall but Michael was at school during and after the war. Life was very frugal and rationing was in place. According to Michael ‘you had to be very brave to eat lunch’. He also hated the pink blazers and caps which made it very difficult to blend in to the local community and meant there was a lot of teasing on the journey home. But he has very happy memories of some of the staff, travelling to school on special coaches and walking in crocodiles to go and swim at the Finchley Baths.
After leaving school, Michael joined his family business but he was always an entrepreneur at heart and in 1960 he took a huge gamble and set out on his own. Over the course of the next forty years he established one of the largest and most successful International removals businesses.
He has moved many interesting and valuable items around the world including:
- A solid silver Rolls Royce used by a Maharaja for Tiger shoots in India
- A piece of ‘Moon Rock’ from the original moon landing
- The contents of the Royal Armouries Collection from The Tower of London to the museum in Leeds – The contents were valued at over £2.8 billion and incorporated 42,000 individual items.
And has had many well-known clients. One of the most loved was Margo Fonteyn, the famous ballerina. She would insist on traveling in the cab of the removal trucks when moving house and he was terrified that there would be an accident – his insurance certainly did not cover the value of a prima ballerina’s legs!
His most interesting client was Lady Margaret Thatcher who became a great friend. She held up Michael Gerson Ltd as one of the finest examples of the entrepreneurial spirit in the UK and officiated over three different events as the company expanded. She even attended the opening of a new warehouse on 22nd May 1982, the very day that troops landed in the Falkland Islands at the height of the Falkland’s War.
Michael is now retired but he continues to keep an eye on business and his advice to our pupils is:
‘to find a niche and become an expert in it, have the confidence of your convictions, work hard and open your mind to what is possible’
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