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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.

Simon Lane – an entrepreneurial mentor

Simon LaneVery interesting to hear from Simon Lane (OW 1983), an experienced entrepreneur and long time supporter of Wells and of the Association. Simon has been a Trustee of the Russell Fox Heath Trust which has been making grants to Wells students for adventure training since 1994 and is about to make this year’s award.

At Wells, Simon was both a noted sportsman and an accomplished artist. He was Captain of Hockey, an athlete and also played rugby & tennis for the school. His art won him a VI form prize and inspired him after Wells to study art and design, eventually specialising in industrial modelmaking and special effects.

He once went to CCF camp and reported, “The food is great and the soldiers have been very nice to us. But I don't think I would like the army as a career. I hate getting up at 6.30 every morning."

This clearly didn’t hinder him! He moved on to a successful career in manufacturing and import/export around the world. Now, Simon is now a professional property developer and business advisor of over ten years’ experience, with his company Stopwatch Property.

Simon has long had an interest in mentoring, supporting individuals to develop new skills and take career next steps. He has helped several state schools and agencies and would like to do the same for Wells. It is very much a core objective of the Association to offer support both to Wells sixth formers and to young OW graduates and we hope to develop this further, so Simon’s offer is most opportune.

Sky Ratcliffe’s musical peace

Sky Ratcliffe

News from Sky Ratcliffe (OW 2014) who is now at Cardiff University studying Music and Mathematics. She tells me that as well as her music she is also enjoying interests in “animation and figure skating”.

At Wells, Sky was a specialist violinist and viola player and also achieved distinction as a recorder player. She won violin prizes at the Cheltenham Festival. At the 2014 Open Mic Night she “resurfaced with her trusty ukulele and had the crowd roaring along to Dumb Ways to Die, a real standout moment.”

She is now a composer, musician, vegetarian and leader of the Dances of Universal Peace. She has YouTube channels; apollosukulele and Apollo's Ukulele's Adventures.

Our warmest wishes to Sky for all her endeavours.

A big hand for James Turle

James Turle

James Turle (OW 1820) became a chorister at Wells at the age of eight. At that time the nave of the cathedral appears to have been the recognised playground of the choristers who were wont to indulge a juvenile passion for throwing stones. Master Turle distinguished himself as a good shot by sending a missile through St Andrew’s nose in a stained glass window. ‘That was done by the organist of Westminster Abbey,’ a sacristan long after remarked when pointing out the damage.

At the age of eleven James was sent to London and studied under J.J. Goss and G.E. Williams, organist of the Abbey. He held in succession the office of organist of Christ Church, Southwark, and St. James’s Bermondsey. In 1831, on the death of Greatorex – whose deputy he had been for twelve years previously – James was appointed organist of Westminster Abbey, an office he held with distinction for fifty-one years.

Turle was a great organist and composed a good deal of church music which was well known. Like his life-long friend, John Goss, he excelled in playing from the old figured-bass scores. He had an enormous hand. On one occasion, at the Prussian Embassy, he met the Chevalier Neukomm, who boasted that he could extend his hand on the keyboard over an octave and three notes. Turle, quietly approached the pianoforte, and, taking an octave and a half into his enormous hands, exclaimed, ‘One more for luck.’ No wonder that a roar of laughter greeted the triumph of the English organist over the German composer.

With thanks to The Central Somerset Gazette of 9th August 1907
Photo: Westminster Abbey

Jon Edwards requests your vote!

Jon Edwards 2

Congratulations to Jon Edwards (OW 2013) who is a finalist for Young Digital Leader of the Year in this year’s DL100 Awards. He would very much appreciate the support of fellow OWs in the public vote for his trailblazing product community platform POP.

People of Product (POP) is a community of passionate product managers working to collaborate and up-skill their product capability. The programme has included workshops across the country and an online forum.

The DL100 list is created by public vote and celebrates the teams and individuals who are working hard behind the scenes to secure the UK’s Digital Transformation. We send Jon our best wishes for success.

Chloe Firbank – a fine art

Chloe Firbank

I hear from Chloe Firbank (OW 2014) that she is in the final year of her degree in Fine Art at the Arts University, Bournemouth and is working up to her degree exhibitions at the AUB and in London. This has been a four year journey and to pay the bills Chloe has taken part time jobs. These have included hospitality and sales work and in 2016 she was appointed part time legal assistant at Quality Solicitors Gould & Swayne in Street.

Throughout her time at Wells, Chloe was a notable hockey player and she 2nd Captained the 1st XI in her final year. She also achieved DoE Gold which included an expedition in the High Atlas Mountains, Morocco.

She says she keeps in close contact with many in her year – long may this continue! We send her every best wish for the next stage of her career after uni.

Damian Smith having a great innings

Damian Smith

Damian Smith (OW 1990), who enjoyed our last reunion, is achieving great things at the England and Wales Cricket Board where he is Head of IT.

Damian podcasts “Loved and played the world over, cricket has reinvented itself to appeal to new audiences. Off the pitch, the ECB is reinventing the way its cricket clubs operate – transitioning them from legacy, paper-based processes to the digital workplace. He says he relishes the opportunity he has been given, and says running IT for the ECB is a great role. “I’ve done my fair share of work in defence, tobacco and financial services, so to do something lighter is really enjoyable.”

He has worked in a wide range of IT consulting and senior managerial roles since he left University of Bradford with a Computer Studies degree. One of those consultancies was a year long project for the ECB so he has returned to familiar ground in his current role.

Before Damian realized that his future lay in IT, he “ran pubs, climbed mountains and starred as a body double for Tom Cruise in Hollywood movies. Damian is now in the midst of a mid-life crisis that mainly involves running ultra-marathons.”

At Wells Damian was a chorister, scholar and cricket player and took part in some memorable drama performances; in The Changeling he “heroically held up the tottering scenery for the whole of the last act”. Making things work in spite of challenges seems since to have become his special expertise!

Isabella Smith – look no further!

Isabella Smith

How nice to hear about Isabella Smith (OW 2014). She is with digital marketers Merkle Periscopix who specialise in optimising biddable media and sing her praises on their website; "If you're looking for someone who's ambitious, industrious, dedicated... imaginative (and with a grade 7 certificate in recorder to boot!); look no further than Isabella."!
After Wells Isabella went to Manchester University and was awarded a BA in Philosophy and she began to shape her career with internships in events management and marketing. She was also Event and Tour Secretary for the uni Netball Club, which included organising a 30-strong tour to Spain. This of course was a continuation of her sport at Wells where Issy was a member of the County Champions team and later Captain of Netball.
Isabella tells me she is now living in Battersea near several other OWs and she recently went on a Wellie Skiing Week – an excellent example of the value of our lifelong fellowship of friends.

Helen Keast – Food Safeology

Helen Keast

Mrs Mandy Fielding who has been teaching at Wells for over 20 years was very pleased to hear from Helen Keast (née Ellis, OW 1999) whom she inspired to follow a career in the food industry.

Helen has set up her own business, Food Safeology Limited and she conducts food safety audits for a huge range of Food Processing Factories. Helen says “I see everything from every simple processing by hand to massive highly automated production lines. If you watch Greg Wallace on Inside the Factory then you will have a good idea of the range of processes I can see!

Helen graduated in June 2003 with a 1st class BSc (hons) in Food Production, Development & Retailing from Bournemouth University and then joined the Kerry Food Graduate Development programme. She has since completed training against the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety.

She balances her work as an independent contractor with care of her children Alfie, 10 and Isabelle, i8. “My job does mean I am away from home often, but husband is great and works reduced hours so he can be at home for the kids!”

An invitation from Eleanor Corr

Ellie Corr

Some good news from Eleanor Corr (OW 2010) and Rosie Bowker (OW 2011) who have reached the finals of the prestigious St Martin-in-the-Fields Chamber Competition with their flute, violin, cello and piano ensemble, Pocket Sinfonia. The final is a public concert at St. Martin-in-the-Fields next Tuesday, 26th March at 7.30pm and they say “if any Old Wellies want to attend, we would love that!" (and quoting Pocket Sinfonia when booking gets 25% off tickets!)

Ellie came to Wells aged 9 as a specialist violinist, and says she remembers joyful times in Polydor House playing music in the corridors, and inspirational SCO rehearsals with Matthew Souter (OW 1980) and Phil Dukes (OW 1985), discovering the wonderful experience of making music collectively. “This joy has stayed with me through and beyond my musical training at the Royal Academy of Music”, where she was a prize winner, orchestral leader, and held a full scholarship.

After graduating, she joined the English Touring Opera, leading several performances, and she has also played with the LSO and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Her work has taken to the world's most northerly concert hall in Svalbard, Norway, to Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and China, and also to the Royal Albert Hall Elgar Room, Buckingham Palace, Wigmore Hall, St. Martin-in-the-Fields and Brighton Early Music Festival.

Eleanor says that an all-consuming career path blurs professional and personal life and she is lucky to travel with Emil, her boyfriend of 3 years and close friends Rosie and Tom in Pocket Sinfonia. “I miss beautiful Somerset but tours have enabled me to indulge a passion for swimming and hiking in Norway. The rest of the time, you're likely to find me enjoying good food while having a good laugh with friends.”

Nancy Lunnon – food science in two hemispheres

Nancy Lunnon

I hear from Nancy Lunnon (OW 2014) that in the summer she will be completing her four year BSc in Food Science and Nutrition at Leeds University. This course has provided a great international experience, involving an exchange year at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane studying nutrition, health, education and sport.

This was not her first antipodean adventure; after Wells she took a gap year as a tutor at Huntley School, a prep school about 100 miles north of Wellington, New Zealand.

Sport has always been an important part of Nancy’s life. At uni she has continued her netball and enjoys snowboarding and water polo and her plan for next year is a Masters in Sports and Exercise Nutrition.

At Wells, Nancy was Captain of Haversham House and school Swimming Captain. She played in the 1st Netball VII and was in the U16 team that became county champions. She achieved DoE Gold.

Our best wishes to Nancy for her finals.

Jonny Forsey – creating connections

Jonny Forsey

Exciting news from Jonny Forsey (OW 2014) about his new business. Jonny has created HOLO Founders Club, an exclusive brand and community for early stage start up entrepreneurs to help them get connected and on the map. He is well placed to do this, having gained a first at Northumbria University in Entrepreneurial Business Management. At uni he founded Enactus Northumbria, a social enterprise “committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to transform lives and shape a better more sustainable world.”

He also has a well developed skillset in videography and is currently working to create and measure advertising on paid media channels for Flash Pack, a multi award-winning travel company aiming “to revolutionise the outdated image of the group travel sector with an on-point and aspirational lifestyle brand experience.”

At Wells, Jonny was a noted athlete and rugby player who “gave the team a cutting edge” and “scored one of the best tries of the season”. He also won DoE Gold.

Jonny comes from a family of Wellensians, his father is Julian Forsey (OW 1979) and also a business entrepreneur and his brothers are Alexander Forsey and Francis Forsey (both OW 2016). Other generations of OW Forseys stretch back to the 1920s.

We shall certainly keep tabs on Jonny!

Shannon Kemp climbs three mountains

Shannon Kemp

We were delighted to see Shannon Kemp (OW 2014) down from Scotland for our reunion. She is studying medicine at University of Aberdeen and has just polished off an intercalated one year BSc in Anatomy during her medicine course.

At Wells, Shannon was a Symphony Orchestra cellist and a pianist and she retains her love of the arts. She performs piano, accordion, cello and voice at gigs. She is also a member of the Aberdeen University Dance Society, the biggest and the most active society under AU Students' Association, which teaches everything from street dance to ballroom to Scottish country.

Last year she participated in the National 3 Peaks Challenge in aid of Friends of ANCHOR which raises money for cancer research. This adventure across the highest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales involved 13 hours of walking (including 3,064m of ascent)  and 11 hours of driving, all in 24 hours!

Our fond best wishes to Shannon for her future.

Anson Chau has a career in mind

Anson Chau

I hear from Anson Chau (OW 2014) that he has recently graduated from University of Edinburgh with a BSc (Hons) in Psychology.

Anson is planning a career in mental health as an NHS Clinical Psychologist and has undertaken several voluntary roles to build his experience. He provided inpatient academic support to children in Kwai Chung psychiatric hospital in Hong Kong and worked as a camp counsellor in a residential camp for children with special needs in New York State. Since graduation he has been a support worker with the Scottish Association for Mental Health, enabling clients to improve their independency.

At Wells, Anson sang in the Chapel Choir and the Barber Shop ensemble and was a Peer mentor and Student Ambassador. We were delighted to see him at our London Dinner and very much hope he will keep in touch.

Olivia Morley in shock

Olivia Morley

Liv Morley (OW 2014) tells me at our recent reunion that she “drowned in Physics for four years at the Duck (aka Emmanuel) College, Cambridge” to get her undergrad and MSc degrees but this has not put her off pure science. She is now researching shock physics and high temperature/pressure optical spectroscopy but is pleased to report that she “has not set herself on fire yet”.

At Wells Olivia had an impressive academic track record, winning many school and external prizes including a gold certificate in the UK Chemistry Olympiad. She achieved all A*s at GCSE and top A levels.

She played hockey and was a CCF Sergeant - one of five Wells cadets who took part in Exercise Wyvern Warrior which tested the their fieldcraft skills, tactics, weapon handling and leadership. “The Wells cadets performed magnificently, outwitting the enemy (King Edward's, Bath) and demonstrating Impressive command and control.” She has continued her sport at uni, captaining the Ladies’ Badminton team.

Liv characterises her working life as “not in the real world” but of course it is research like hers that advances our understanding of the universe we live in – a key to making the best of our real world. We greatly look forward to seeing her again.

Heads together at a great Reunion

London Dinner 2019

May I add my appreciation for the OWs and friends who joined us last week for our London Reunion. Our guest list of 60 included eight ex Head Girls/Boys and we were only sorry that some of the Wells party (including another Head Boy, the Head Master and Head of the Junior School) were snowed in and could not be with us.

Partying carried on in the bar until midnight (and beyond that for the 2014s who continued elsewhere) and thank you for wealth of jottings which I shall cover over the coming weeks, though I am not sure if Boris the crocodile, Durkin the geico and an XL snake without a name are really pets or just manifestations of the RAF Club claret.

We now start planning for our summer reunion in Wells on Saturday 22nd June 2019 – do Save the Day!

Tom Cholmondeley’s Biggest Fibs

Tom Cholmondeley

A must watch last night (or on iPlayer) was Lucy Worsley’s American History’s Biggest Fibs directed by Tom Cholmondeley (OW 1987) for BBC Four.

Tom is a BAFTA nominated director with a long track record of films that bring history to life with wit and sharp attention to detail. “I have had the privilege of directing people I really admire such as David Suchet, Paul Merton, the Lord Chief Justice and Mikhail Gorbachev.”

After Wells, Tom went to Reading University for a science degree. He spent some time teaching, including in Zimbabwe (following his brother Richard (OW 1984) who was so sadly later killed in a road accident in Portugal) but then found his true vocation in television as a researcher with Channel 4. He has since done work for Channel 5 as well as for the BBC and through his own company Cholmondeley Films.

Tom has had contact with the school on various occasions over the years including coming to Wells in 2005 to cast a young Albert Einstein for Einstein’s Brain and awarding the part to Toby Scadding (OW 2013). As a big history TV fan I look forward to more of Tom’s great documentaries.

Ed Curtis throws his hat into the ring

Ed Curtis

I hear from Ed Curtis (OW 2016) that he will be graduating this year in Marketing Management from The University of Greenwich. He is aiming for a career in the automotive industry and would welcome contact with other OWs in marketing and/or automotive sectors.

Ed was a noted athlete from his early days at Wells and a rugby player who was “often putting his body on the line for the sake of the team” On a school ski trip he won the award for “most cheerful skier” from Mrs Bridson and Mr Smyth. He also “held the stage stylishly" with Lizzie Hubner (OW 2016) in So You Think You Can Dance?

He says he is missing Somerset and Wells but “looking forward to throwing punches in the world of business.” We are sure he will be a (metaphorical) heavy hitter and wish him well in his forthcoming career.

Nike Koch in music and pictures

Nike Koch

We were delighted to see Nike Koch (OW 1999) back from New York and contemplating coming to our London Reunion if some others from her year group will join her – please contact Nike asap!

After Wells, Nike spent a pre-degree year at Trinity College of Music before her BA at Bristol University. She followed this with a Masters in Music Business at University of Liverpool. She has been a Senior Manager in Global Operations at Sony Music for 12 years now and last year spent six months in NYC. She has responsibilities in international Operations and Supply Chain (including work on vinyl recordings!) and ensuring global Product Compliance.

Her other great passion – and great talent – is photography. Her superb images “take you on a journey to beautiful and amazing places - from some of the world's busiest cities, all the way to scenic countryside locations.” She now makes her photography available to purchasers as decorative artwork and we wish her all the best in building this business.

Phil Barton tidies up

Phil Barton

We are doubly delighted to hear from Phil Barton (OW 1973) who not only sends news but also has been tidying up his loft and thoughtfully offered some school calendars to fill gaps in our Living Archive. Phil was Chief Executive of Keep Britain Tidy which has been campaigning against litter and waste for over fifty years.

At Wells, the Living Archive records that Phil was a notable all-rounder – House Captain and Editor of The Wellensian and also a successful sportsman; Captain of Sailing, first team hockey, a good rugby player, badminton for the school and an athlete at county level who broke several school records. He also developed his environmental values at a young age, speaking aged 16 at the Debating Society in favour of organising “to make this planet a better place to live in”.

After Wells, Phil went to Keele University and gained first class honours and then spent 35 years active in environmental regeneration in Manchester, the North West and then nationally. He was founder director of RENEW North West, which became Places Matter!, the architecture and built environment centre for the North West. He was director at Groundwork UK, initially as North West Regional Director and latterly as national Director of Corporate Strategy.

He has now started a second career as an artist. "I am currently studying for a MA in Art and Science at Central Saint Martins in London, trying a different route to persuading people of the desperate urgency to act as we suffer climate breakdown and continue with the sixth great extinction, the great challenges of our time"

We very much hope that Phil will continue to keep in touch and support the Association.

Rachel Carberry broadcasts


Rachel CarberryMy final OW mention of the year is for Rachel Carberry (OW 2000) who joined us at our London social.

Rachel is a Broadcast specialist, currently with Virgin Radio which is in a state of excitement about the arrival of Chris Evans in the new year, although Rachel may be moving on to Berlin with Google.

Rachel also has a long-time commitment to volunteering. Last summer she went to Cambodia with the International Citizen Service of VSO and she is a worker with their London Supporter Group.

At Wells she was specialist musician French horn and piano player and after leaving took a gap year which included a tour to Japan with the National Youth Music Theatre. She later went on to the Guildhall to continue her music and after uni worked for a while in hospitality before beginning her career as a sound engineer.

We look forward to hearing more news of her soon!

Happy Christmas wishes to Wellensians around the world

Wells Cathedral by Harry Constantine2

However long ago you were at Wells - and wherever you are now - we send best wishes to all our old (and young!) friends. Please do keep in touch.

PICTURE: Harry Constantine

Mark Harrison connects

Mark Harrison

At our London Social we caught up with Mark Harrison (OW 1998) who is Director of Localisation & Access Services for American multinational Viacom who “connect with billions of people in nearly every country in the world.” Mark’s special expertise is in subtitling, dubbing and translation which he has developed since completing an MA in Screen Translation at Leeds University following his first degree in languages at Manchester.

At Wells he was a well regarded member of Mr. Ken Sowden’s Ritchie House and clearly had an early interest in entertainment. He is remembered for his drama performances - as half of a typically English suburban couple, prone to random fits of madness in The Bald Prima Donna and earlier in When We Are Married and Bugsy Malone.

After leaving Wells he took a gap year and taught for seven months at at Muljibhai Madhvani College in Wairaka, Uganda.

He is now living and working in London and has been married for ten years. He says he is “very much in touch with OW chums” and long may this continue.

Antonia Showering – a fine art

Antonia Showering

Great fun yesterday with over 40 OWs at our London Social including Antonia Showering (OW 2010) who is a blossoming artist (self portrait above). She currently has shows in London at Bloomberg New Contemporaries, South London Gallery (until 24 Feb 2019) and 15 Works on Paper at The Whitechapel Gallery (until 12 Jan 2019). She has also exhibited this year in Los Angeles and at many other galleries in the UK.

She had a clear focus for her education after Wells, beginning with a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at Chelsea Art College, then to a first degree at London Art School, culminating in a Masters in Fine Art at the prestigious Slade School.

Antonia has fond memories of Wells and so we were delighted to see her at her first reunion event. Her family has had a long association with the school and Antonia generously supported the WCS Foundation Gala Auction in 2016 with an oil on canvas commission for a winning bidder.

She mentioned that she has “no children yet but I recently became an aunt … my 25 year old brother beat me to it!” We very much look forward to seeing her again and seeing more from this inspired artist..