Derrick Thomas


William Robinson Clarke

‘He became a toastmaster, which allowed him to travel the world’

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Derrick was born in British Guiana (now Guyana) in 1936. His mother was a teacher and she instilled in him the love of learning. After hearing the future Prime Minister of Guyana, Forbes Burnham, a brilliant orator, delivering a speech, Derrick decided that he wanted to emulate him.

When Derrick was a young man, his parents encouraged him to travel. In 1957, at the age of 21, he left Guyana intent on obtaining a good education. He spent a month in Trinidad, then travelled to Barbados, Tenerife, Barcelona, Las Palmas and Florence, eventually arriving at Victoria Station in London.

In 1959, he was called up for National Service. Having passed the RAF examination, he was posted to the Northwood base in Middlesex. Soon after, he received a promotion to sergeant and then followed it as a flight simulator instructor. Derrick was posted to Suffolk and based at RAF Wattisham, he visited Ipswich and liked it so much that he decided to make it his home. There he bought his first house. In 1971, he left the RAF and went to work in medical supplies. He became an expert engineer of CT scanning machines. It gave him the opportunity to travel the world, going to Holland in 1971, Berlin in 1978 and Singapore in 1987. Derrick’s last posting was to Nigeria where he helped to install a brain scanner.

Remembering his passion to speak like Prime Minister Forbes Burnham, he became a toastmaster, which allowed him to travel the world. Derrick served at the Houses of Parliament functions and at events in Sweden, France, New York, Canada and Barbados. Also, his services were used by the St Lucia High Commissioner and the Guyanese Nurses and Allied Professionals.

Passionate about sports, he achieved his childhood dream when he was chosen to carry the Olympic torch for the London 2012 Olympics.

Derrick has retired and has written his biography titled Hold onto your Dreams which is now in libraries around the UK. The book is based on the importance of education, good manners, respect for parents, and a healthy lifestyle to motivate and inspire young men and women to achieve through education and perseverance.

Today, Derrick visits schools in the UK to talk to pupils about his life and experiences, hoping to motivate and inspire young people to strive to achieve their goals by obtaining a good education.

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