MY PATERNAL grandfather was the general manager of a brickyard.

In Normanby near Middlesbrough, the yard produced bricks and tiles which were transported across the country.

He lived in a house on the site with my grandmother, a former nurse. When we went to visit we occasionally got shown round the works, and I remember the cavernous, dusty factory with railway lines running through it. In retirement he played bowls and they both regularly played bridge.

My mum’s dad was a regional sales manager for York-based Rowntrees - now Nestle - travelling all over the north promoting the company’s chocolates. Whenever he came to see us he brought chocolates and amusing point-of-sale displays. He was a brilliant swimmer and used to practise in the River Ouse in York.

He met my nan at a cinema where she was working in the ticket kiosk. They later separated, and my nan moved to Majorca where she lived for many years.

That’s my grandparents’ background in a nutshell. There are many gaps in my knowledge, but I know more than many. Children in Yorkshire have no knowledge or interest in what their grandparents did for a living, or what they used to do before they retired, according to the results of a new survey.

A poll of 1,000 young people aged up to18 by retirement housebuilder McCarthy & Stone revealed that more than a third had no idea what their grandparents had done for a living, almost 60 per cent have never spoken to them about their achievements and nearly 40 per cent admitted they didn’t know whether their grandparents had any special talents - the main reason being, simply, that they never thought to ask them.

Sadly, when you are growing up, the lives of your grandparents don’t register as particularly interesting.

If I am honest I saw mine as older people who came to visit occasionally and give us money on our birthdays.

I never asked them questions about their lives - I wish I had. For years I saw my dad’s mother as a bit stuffy, but when I had my own child, and visited her, she was, in fact, full of fun. I was just getting to know her better when, sadly, she was killed in an accident.

Today I have no living grandparents but I have since found out more about them from my parents. I’d like to know more still and would love to find out about my great grandparents, but time speeds by and I still haven’t got around to asking about them.

Children fortunate enough to have grandparents should make the most of the time spent with them, get to know them and find out about their lives. They are part of us, and the reason we are here. To grow up having no clue or interest in how they spent their younger lives is sad.

Less than one in five children said their grandparent was inspirational - a surprising figure considering that many grandparents are now acting as childminders within families, playing a major role in raising children.

Of course it has to work the other way too: not all grandparents want to be involved in their grandchildren’s lives - my mother-in-law doesn’t - and that is also sad.

My daughters adore my parents and spend as much time as possible with them. They love hearing about how they met and their lives as young people. I am thrilled that they value them in their lives and certain they see them as inspiring. If I am ever lucky enough to be a grandparent, I hope I will be too.