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Chairman's Blog

george buntingRead news here from and about OWs that comes to me directly or on the grapevine. I will also draw attention to and comment on matters of interest. If you were at Wells, do send me snippets or tweets about what you or other OWs are doing to make this blog live, up to date and interesting!

You can add your responses and comments to my blog posts on our Facebook Group.

(Please note that throughout this site, OW years refer to the year the group left Year13 (Upper Sixth). Individuals may have left earlier)

George Bunting, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Charles Sisson on the move

Charles Sisson

More from our recent Dinner with news that Charles Sisson (OW 2013) has moved house, but not very far. “I lived in Wedmore and now live and study in Churchill meaning I have successfully moved a ten minute drive from home!”

This sounds an ideal arrangement for Charles who is in year four (of five) of his veterinary degree at Bristol University. However his spirit of adventure also takes him further away, in particular to South America – he spent last summer in Mexico working in a veterinary hospital. “Quéro trabajar en Latinoamerica pero creo que voya trabajar en Inglaterre para un poco.” as he puts it. He has also discovered an aptitude for combat sports and helps to coach mixed martial arts and Brazilian jujitsu at his university.

At Wells, Charles was a trombonist and showed an early interest in (human) physiology as part of a team shortlisted for the National Science of Sport Competition with a study of the lung capacity of brass players compared with non-musicians. He says he loved his time at Wells and regularly meets his OW friends – long may this continue!

Eleanor Barr-Sim – a Queen in drama


Eleanor Barr-SimA wonderful gathering of OWs last weekend at our London Reunion and so masses of news to catch up on. For today, a mention of actor Eleanor Barr-Sim (OW 2013) who is a third year student at the East 15 Acting School and will be graduating this year. She suggests very plausibly that she is destined to play roles like the Queen in Netflix The Crown or appear in an Edinburgh or West End show.

Her love of acting was inspired at Wells under “the glorious, wondrous” Mrs Judy Burns. Ebs recalls “a delightful time of my life and I’m so thankful for the time I spent there”. The cobbled streets and the smell of toast are among many happy memories.

When not with her art (or her waitressing to pay the bills until the big break), her loves are a canoe on the Canadian lakes and the two family dogs. She loves to hear from old friends and says that if they message her she can offer a ticket to the Oscars, though this might just possibly be great acting on her part.

Adam Heron – Young Musician finalist

Adam Heron

Warm congratulations to Adam Heron (OW 2017) who has reached the finals of BBC Young Musician of the Year. Adam is a pianist only by accident; when his primary school gave away its old piano, his mum applied to have it. “From then on it was the big toy in the living room and I fell in love.” He kept the instrument in preference to a shiny new one he was offered.

Adam says “I chose Wells because it is more than music – I had other options, just in case I decided music was not what I wanted to focus on.” However, thankfully for us he did not change course. He gave many memorable performances at Wells and has won local and national competitions with his playing. He was responsible for music outreach and was also known for his great cooking including an “extra strong” tiramisu.

Adam is now a scholar at the Royal Academy of Music and we shall follow his career with great interest. We wish him well for the piano category final in BBC competition on 16-20 March at the brand new Birmingham Conservatoire.

Mike Murton and Isabella Kolaczynska

Mike Murton

A thank you to Mike Murton (OW 2013) who has done a great job with Yeargroup Ambassadors Clare Scott and Nico Alexandroff to bring together their year for a grand first reunion next week. We are greatly looking forward to welcoming over 60 Wellensians and friends at the RAF Club in London for wining, dining and music in our best suits and gowns.

At Wells Mike was an accomplished sportsman and a Sgt. in the CCF. He took part in a (mock!) battle against King Edward’s, Bath won by the Wells cadets who “performed magnificently, outwitting the enemy and demonstrating impressive command and control”.

After Wells, Mike went to St Mary's University Twickenham to read Sports and Media. After jobs at Nuffield Health and Millfield he now teaches physical education at Surbiton High School and runs his own swim coaching and lifeguard and first aid training company Murton Training & Aquatics.

My picture also shows Isabella Kolaczynska (OW 2013) because she and Mike are engaged to be married. We love Wellensian romances and are greatly looking forward to seeing them both at the Reunion.

Kieran White and Sophie Gallagher in harmony

Kieran White  Sophie Gallagher

A pleasure to find a pic with singers Kieran White (OW 2008) and Sophie Gallagher (OW 2012) because Kieran was at our recent social and Sophie gave a glorious performance in Wells this week.
Kieran modestly describes himself as a "singing farmer" but in fact he is an accomplished musician with a BMus from the Royal Conservatiore of Scotland and a Masters with distinction from the Royal Academy. Although living back in Dorset he travels widely to sing, in particular to Norway and also to Amsterdam where he is a tenor with the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra & Choir.
Among his many Wells honours were captain of the best 1 XI football season on record and the role of Cookie the Cook in Return to the Forbidden Planet. He was Head Chorister and later sang with the Wellensian Consort. He has since sung in Dublin cathedral for a year and Truro for two.
Sophie presented An Evening of Opera Favourites in Cedars Hall with Elliot Launn (OW 2010) accompanying and Ida Ränzlöv, mezzo soprano. She dazzled us all with the sensitivity and range of her singing.
We look forward to more sweet music from both!

Halcyon days for Leidy Sinclair

Leidy Sinclair

We welcomed Bermudan OW Leidy Sinclair (OW 2012) to our London Social and heard of her passionate work with the Halcyon Quartet.

Leidy completed her first degree at The Royal Academy of Music in 2016 and is now on a two year postgraduate course. The Halcyon, which formed in her first year at the Academy under the prestigious Davey-Poznanski Quartet Scheme, is a major focus and has upcoming performances at the Bermuda Festival, Wigmore Hall and West Cork Chamber Music Festival.

At Wells, Leidy was a star academic (and baker) as well as a specialist violinist. She made a memorable trip to China with the school organised by Mr Walkey who also very kindly travelled to Bermuda to hear her play and to recruit other Bermudans to Wells.

Our best wishes to Leidy both in the wide world and on her tiny mid-Atlantic home.

Rob Edmondson moves from old risks to new

Rob Edmondson

I am pleased to bring news of Rob Edmondson (OW 2008). He writes that he “preached as a Church of England (rogue!) Youth Minister from 2009-2015 to the devastation and confusion of my peers. I lost faith and now sell cybersecurity to enterprise businesses.” Rob sees some continuity of theme in his old and new careers - about understanding and mitigating against cataclysmic risks.

At Wells Rob was Colour Sergeant in the CCF and played “anthemic Rage against the Machine covers with a distinctly gritty punk sound” in the Battle of the Bands. After Wells he went to Hull University and gained a first in Politics, Philosophy & Economics.

He is now an Enterprise Solutions specialist with IT security company Thycotic, tasked with researching, reaching, and engaging the UK Enterprise Market.

We hope very much to see him in Wells on 30th June for his tenth anniversary reunion.

Edward Fuller with worldwide attractions

Edward Fuller

Thirty years since he left Wells I caught up at our recent London social with Edward Fuller (OW 1987) who is a Divisional Director with Merlin Entertainments, owners of Madame Tussauds among many other worldwide attractions and resorts. Edward has been with Merlin since 2001 and he managed the famous waxworks for part of his career.

For much of his time with Merlin he has worked and lived abroad in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Sydney but he is now settled in London

Edward says that he has very happy memories of Wells where he was Head Chorister (and played a monk in the musical Good King Wenceslas) and was later a captain of cricket and of De Salis House. He has supported his Association over the years and his attendance at his thirtieth anniversary reunion last summer was only prevented by the even happier event of the birth of his son. We look forward to keeping in touch with him in as his career waxes further in the years to come.

Warm greetings to Wellensians across the world

We send best wishes for Christmas and the New Year to all our members across the globe!


You will be most welcome at a reunion in 2018. Our first event is on Friday 2nd February 2018 and booking is open now.

PHOTO: Jane/Koji Sakai   www.sakaicards.com

Christmas Cheer from Cecilia Chan

Cecilia Chan

To our London Christmas drinks and a very interesting chat with Cecilia Chan (OW 2012). Cecilia is in the second year of a Master of Performance at the Royal College of Music and will complete this in the summer having spent a total of six years at the college.

At Wells Cecilia was a specialist ‘cello player with many memorable performances to her name.

After the RCM she will be returning to Hong Kong and she intends to be fully immersed in orchestral performance, teaching and ensembles. She is particularly excited about pursuing a teaching career and inspiring the next generation of HK children with a love of classical music. She may be collaborating with two other HK OWs and we wish her all the best and look forward to hearing more about this!

Richard Bates – news from Maine

Richard JS Bates

How very nice to hear from Richard J.S. Bates (OW 1971) whom I remember very well. Richard emigrated to the USA in 1981 to work at Bell Telephone Laboratories. There he met his wife Susan and they have four children and three (about to be four) grandchildren.

At Wells, Richard was a chorister and showed skills in maths and astronomy. In his final year he was Captain of School and succeeded me as Captain of Sailing. He was also a 1st XI hockey player and cross country runner.

After school, Richard did an early form of gap year with the post office prior to St John’s College, Cambridge to read Engineering and later for research and a PhD. After Bell Labs he moved to IBM Research Center, also on the US East Coast. He then had his own Internet business for a while and he is now retired, living in the small fishing town of St George in Maine and so among sailors again. There, using the English terms, he is a volunteer paramedic for the town's ambulance service and also mayor.

Richard has been a good transatlantic supporter of his Wellensian Association over the years and returned for the 1,100th choristers’ reunion in 2009. We very much hope to persuade him to be back in Wells for his own 50th anniversary year when that arrives.

Orlando Fraser & Patrick Tully tackle Yosemite

Orlando Fraser  Patrick Tully

After leaving Wells Orlando Fraser and Patrick Tully (OWs 2017) have taken part in a national CCF expedition to Yosemite National Park in California organised by the Cadet Centre for Adventurous Training. With 13 other cadets they went to the place known to climbers as the birthplace of modern rock climbing. The students were selected to take part in the trip during their final year at Wells with other cadets chosen from around the UK. Throughout their trip the boys climbed in teams of three, tackling some of Yosemite’s classic routes.

Patch said, “The School CCF has been excellent in helping us to apply and prepare for this once in a lifetime expedition!”

Orlando and Patrick were both noted for adventure sports at Wells, each completing the CCF 48 mile Jersey Round Island Walk and achieving a DoE Gold Award.

Orlando was a Sgt. in the CCF and did previous CCAT courses in the UK. He won the Avon Schools Orienteering fixture and was part of the Bristol Schools Climbing Competition at Undercover Rock. He also represented Wells in a chemistry competition and won gold in the British Physics Olympiad. He is now reading engineering at Oriel College, Oxford

Patch was also a noted athlete from an early age. He played cricket for a junior Somerset County side and in hockey was selected for the Somerset Junior Academy. He later played for the 1st XI sides. He is also a seasoned yomper, once being first home in the Save the Children Fund Walk. He is now on a gap year very busy with running, dog walking and working at The George in Croscombe. This will be followed by South Africa, Sweden and then Scotland, where he will be working with Rebecca Ridgeway, the first woman to kayak around Cape Horn. He is off to study Geography at Sheffield next Autumn (chosen because it is regarded as having the best climbing club of all the Universities!).

Rachel Garty takes the lead

Rachel GartyWarm congratulations to Rachel Garty (OW 2014) who has graduated with first-class honours from the Royal Veterinary College in an intercalated BSc Comparative Pathology degree and was awarded the MacFaydean Prize for highest achieving student in her year.

Rachel was then selected for the Veterinary Leadership Program at Cornell University and she spent the ten week summer program completing leadership modules and gaining research experience through the investigation of the cellular differences between neonatal and adult immune cells. For this work she was awarded the Cell Biology Prize. During the program Rachel attended the National Veterinary Scholars Symposium at the National Institute of Health in Washington DC.

Rachel showed early academic promise at Wells and was no doubt inspired in her career direction by her mother Mrs Philippa Garty who teaches biology at Wells and is fondly remembered by generations of OWs. Rachel was also a violinist and hockey player and sixth form leader for teaching and learning.

We look forward to seeing her at her first major OW reunion in 2019!

Will Parsons - Remembrance


Will ParsonsWilliam Parsons (OW 2016), now a Grenadier Guardsman and army musician, took part in The Royal British Legion’s annual Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday 11th November. Will, a talented percussionist, played for the regimental band in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen and members of the Royal Family. The Festival was televised on BBC 1 and Will was very visible (and audible!) on the timpani.

Will played of course with the symphony orchestra and other ensembles at Wells and was a cadet musician in the CCF. In 2014 he and four other Wells percussionists gave a number of pioneering masterclasses with an entire battery of percussion instruments (including their own bodies!) for children with profound hearing impairment at the Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Children. This led to an exciting trip to Hungary in the summer holidays to work with the 90 Decibel Charity, in a partnership initiated by the British Embassy in Budapest.

We also remember OWs who fell in 1917 at much the same age as Will is today:

   Flt Sub Lt. Ronald Victor Knight (OW 1915) RNAS, killed 12 March 1917

  2nd Lt William Charles Croome (OW 1915) 10th Batt. London Regiment killed in action 7 June 1917

  2nd Lt Richard Bussell (OW 1915) Somerset LI, killed in action 17 August 1917

Lisa Mundy on two shores

Lisa Mundy

News of Lisa Mundy (OW 1987) who lives in Poole and Barbados which sounds a perfect combination.

After Wells, Lisa went to Bournemouth University for a degree in financial services and she is now Service Director and Pension Trustee for LV, the insurance company where she has been for ten years with regular promotions. Before that she was with Lloyds TSB in various senior positions including Head of ATM Strategy which is again in the spotlight as we move to a cashless economy.

Lisa is mum to six year old Scott who greatly appreciates the beaches near their Barbados home. On a much less happy note she has been through the trauma of breast cancer but is proud to stand up as a survivor and she supports many cancer charities.

Great to be in touch with Lisa and her yeargroup in their thirtieth anniversary year.

Wyndham Woodburn back to sing after 75 years

Wyndham Woodburn

How welcome that Wyndham Woodburn (OW 1943), a former chorister, returned to the cathedral for evensong on a recent Sunday and was welcomed by the Dean in his address. Wyndham came to Wells in 1934 after an interview at age seven with Canon Conrad Eden.

In our Wells Living Archive he gets several mentions as a successful sprinter in school sports as well as a chorister under Canon Eden's successor, Dr Denys Pouncey. After Wells he went into the Royal Navy and worked in a hospital. He then trained in podiatry at the Hospital of St John & St Elizabeth and spent his career as a chiropodist, spending 37 years at Guys Hospital.

He came to the first reunion after the war on 12th June 1947 when 30 OWs came back and the Secretary (G.C. Wicks) “expressed great satisfaction at the response to this first effort which was, he hoped, a prelude to many others”. I am pleased that exactly 70 years later we had another successful reunion this summer.

Wyndham lives in Cirencester and hopes to get back to Wells again in the future.

Carina Evans and Georgia Crumlish have runaway success

Georgia Crumlish

Carina Evans (L) and Georgia Crumlish (R), both OW 2011 and Georgia’s flatmate Hannah Clarke (C) took part in the recent Royal Parks half marathon, a 13.1 mile route through Hyde Park, The Green Park, St James’s Park and Kensington Gardens via closed roads. Their support team comprised of Lizzie Crumlish (OW 1978) and Tim Coppen (OW 2011).

At Wells Carina was a specialist percussion player who played in the National Youth Orchestra. She went on to Kent University to study Accounting & Finance and then to accountants Dechert LLP where she is progressing towards her full ACCA membership.

Georgia was a flautist, hockey player and conservationist at Wells and after many exciting adventures across the ski resorts of Europe she went to Oxford Media and Business School. She now lives in Bristol and keeps in regular contact with her OW friends.

Nico and Clare plan a party!

Clare  Nico

Great news to hear that 2013 OW Yeargroup Ambassadors Nico Alexandroff and Clare Scott are inviting all of their yeargroup to a glittering black tie five-year reunion in Mayfair on Friday 2nd February 2018. They will join Wellensians from all eras and guests from Wells at the RAF Club in Piccadilly, courtesy of our President, Mr Alwyn Gillen. A formal dinner will be followed by the opportunity for late partying.

Booking will open on 1st November (£38pp for 2013/£45 others) and partners/guests will be welcome so save the day!

After Wells, Clare went to Cambridge for her first degree and then to Birbeck College, University of London for a mini MBA. This year she has joined international management consultants OC&C Strategy Consultants as an Associate where she is “expected to pull her weight from day one” on “projects that tend to be fast, furious and brief”. We hope she also has time for her piano!

Nico took a gap year after Wells and then went on to Manchester University to study architecture. After a summer placement in 2016 at Hawkins Brown Architects he has now returned to the firm to complete his professional qualifications and commence his career. The practice operates in Manchester and London and has a vision incorporating a committed social and cultural agenda.

Clare and Nico plan to set up a Facebook page for the Reunion and invite all 2013 OWs to join (including those who left before the 6th).

Watch this space!

Juliette Pochin – Someone to Watch


I hear that the illustrious musical career of Juliette Pochin (OW 1990) now includes producing Someone to Watch Over Me to celebrate the centennial of Ella Fitzgerald’s birthday. The stunning album features Ella’s original vocal tracks digitally remastered and paired with newly orchestrated performances by the London Symphony Orchestra.

Juliette was a specialist musician at Wells and then read music at Trinity College Cambridge where she was also a choral scholar before studying voice at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

During her initial career as an opera singer she made numerous recordings including Venezia for Sony Classics, which became Classic FM’s record of the week, and a recital disc with Iain Burnside which was Gramophone’s editor’s choice. She has performed with musicians ranging from Graham Johnson to Meat Loaf and has been the soloist in the BBC’s Proms in the Park.

In addition to her singing, Juliette composes and produces as one half of the partnership Morgan Pochin Music Productions. TV credits include the EMMY & BAFTA award winning Kumars at No.42 and According to Bex (BBC1). She wrote and produced Katherine Jenkins' No.1 album Premiere, which was nominated for a Classical Brit and has worked with artists as diverse as Alfie Boe, Dame Vera Lynn, Julian Lloyd Webber, with whom she duets on Venezia, and Elton John. She has also orchestrated the opera Tangier Tattoo for Glyndebourne and Lorna Doone for the BBC.

Feature films include music production and score on First Night, music production and music direction on Dustin Hoffman’s film directing debut Quartet, and additional soundtrack and music production on Killing Jesus, a Ridley Scott production.

Current projects include a new album with Alexander Armstrong, the Ella Fitzgerald album, and a live project and recording with Pete Townshend. She recently featured on Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 with Jenni Murray to promote Someone to Watch Over Me.

Tak Kwan conducts

Tak Kwan

Good to hear news about Tak Kwan (OW 1989) who has just been appointed Conductor of the Guelph Youth Music Centre in Ontario. The Centre chose him “not only because of his conducting and teaching skills, but also his wonderful musicality, and warm, gentle manner. We are sure the kids will love him, and blossom musically with his guidance.”

Tak was born into a musical family. His father was a violin maker in Hong Kong, and Tak started playing the violin at the age of seven. At Wells he represented the school in performance with visiting musicians and he gave violin recitals abroad. After Wells he studied at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Tours of the USA and France followed as a soloist and chamber musician and in 2010 he was invited as lead violinist to the University of Concordia, St. Paul, MN for the premiere of a work for string quartet. In the same year, he performed for the Queen in Toronto. In 2011 he was selected to study at the Julliard in New York.

He is also Music Director and Founder of Lavender Chamber Ensemble which promotes young and talented artists by rehearsing and touring together, Concertmaster of Northumberland Orchestra and Choir and Conductor of Yip's chamber Orchestra. He has fond memories of school and is delighted that Cedars Hall is now further enhancing music at Wells.

Sam Okell mixes with The Beatles

Sam Okell

Congratulations to Sam Okell (OW 1998 and Foundation Fellow), who is a senior engineer at Abbey Road Studios, has been awarded an Emmy Award, to sit alongside his two Grammys, for Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Nonfiction Program - The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years.

Sam says “the best thing about being an engineer at Abbey Road is being able to work in some of the greatest recording rooms in the world. This is the stuff that only a few engineers get their hands on…the variety and range of projects is really special, from film scores and orchestras, to bands and remixing some of the classic albums of all time!”

He played drums, piano, guitar and percussion from an early age and was always the technical one even then, playing with the P.A. or an 8-track recorder. After Wells he took the Tonmeister degree course at Surrey University which included a placement year at Abbey Road. He made such a good impression that he was taken on full time after graduating in 2002.

His credits include many major film scores, such as Harry Potter, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Shrek 3 and many others. He won a Grammy for his role in re-mastering the entire Beatles catalogue.

Anna Wyse – a green blue activist

Anna Wyse2

Another OW celebrating a Wells anniversary year is Anna Wyse (née Steinitz OW 1987). Anna is Environmental Manager at MDL Marinas Ltd. which runs 7,000 berths in the UK, Spain and Italy and supports the Green Blue, an environmental awareness campaign which Anna had previously project managed for the RYA. She is also a sailor herself, of a Royal Baltic Storebro 32.

Anna describes herself as a ‘lobbyist and left wing activist’. She been a councillor in the past and stood for the Greens in this year’s local elections. She campaigns widely, e.g. recently taking issue with stereotypically coloured childrens’ clothes for her daughters, Francesca & Emma. She played violin at Wells and I am interested to see that she still takes an interest in music education, supporting opponents of suggestions that music theory should be less rigorous.

Good luck to Anna - the world needs people who get up and make things happen – even if they are not always the things one would chose onself.

Jeff Peabody back on home turf

Jeff Peabody

A long overdue mention on this blog for Jeff Peabody (OW 1987) whom we were very pleased to see again in the summer. The Peabody dynasty at Wells goes back to 1972 with the arrival of Mr Philip and Mrs Daphne Peabody as Headmaster of the Junior School and House Parents of Jocelyn. They were a much loved part of the fabric at Wells for 22 years and their children Jane, Roger and Jeff were all pupils. Philip continues to support the school and was on the new pavilion committee. It will sadly soon be ten years since Daphne died.

At school Jeff was a keen cricket player noted for his bowling and a rugby player. He was senior NCO of the RAF Section of the CCF. After Wells he went to City University on an RAF scholarship and achieved a 1st in Aeronautical Engineering followed by five years with the RAF as an Engineering Officer. A milestone year followed, with marriage to Becky and a (not unconnected) career step change into teaching. He did a PGCE at Oxford Brookes and after a couple of other posts he returned to Wells in 2002 as teacher of mathematics and Housemaster of Cedars. He immediately made a favourable impression by handing back three quarters of the first floor to be used by dayboys previously consigned to the basement; however his ban on frying sausages went down less well.

Jeff and Becky have two children and when he left Wells the Head predicted that one of them would one day succeed her. There is now to be a vacancy but I think a bit too soon for Sophie (17) or Sam (14).

Jeff is now at Millfield where he continues to teach maths and is fixtures secretary for the FC. We very much look forward to seeing him on home ground again soon.