Sir Vince, who was business secretary in the coalition government, was invited to speak at Millthorpe which he attended in the early 1960s when it was Nunthorpe Grammar School.
The event is part of Millthorpe’s thirtieth birthday celebrations: grammar schools Nunthorpe and Mill Mount merged in 1985 to form the comprehensive in a city-wide education shake-up.
Sir Vince told a group of Year 10 students how learning history and taking part in a school production of Macbeth were solid foundations on which to build his career in economics, politics and now as an author.
And he said another motivating force which took him into politics was dealing with the prejudice he suffered because he was in a mixed race marriage. Sir Vince told students his father – a craftsman at Rowntree – stopped speaking to him for four years as a result.
“Looking around the room today I see a number of young people of colour,” he said. “But back in the 1960s York was predominantly white and we suffered a lot of prejudice. I campaigned against apartheid and this put me on course to a political career.”
Sir Vince went on to suggest to pupils that in a fast moving world they should expect to have a number of jobs during their careers.
“This is only the second time Sir Vince has been back to his old school since he left,” said Tim Moat, a Millthorpe governor who organised the visit. “We were thrilled that he took the time to come and deliver a very personal, very inspirational talk to some of our young people.”