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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.

Jos Felton – music mogul in the making

Jos Felton

Jos Felton (OW 2013) is coming to the end of the final year of her degree in Music Industry Management at the London College of Creative Media. Her course prepares students for a career in the music industry as business-astute artists and executives.

She also works as Guest Relations Assistant at the O2 Arena and various festivals for Live Nation Entertainment who say that “somewhere in the world, every 20 minutes there is a Live Nation event.”

Jos also keeps up her sport, playing for the University of East London Hockey Club. At Wells as well as hockey she was Swimming and Lifesaving Captain. She was also CSM in the CCF and was a member of the Exercise Wyvern Warrior champion team from Wells and a 2* kayaker.

After Wells, Jos spent a gap year as a tutor at the Cathedral Grammar School in Christchurch, New Zealand, a prep school with a cathedral choir very like Wells. She of course arrived after the earthquake in 2011 and so did not see the cathedral as it had been. It is good to hear that the cathedral is to be restored, even if this will cost over £70m.

Good luck for that big music discovery Jos!

John Glass celebrates 50yrs

John Glass

Among those looking forward to their 50 year reunion at Wells on 30th June is John Glass (OW 1968). John will be joining some 30 contemporaries and friends (along with 60 from other yeargroups) for our celebration.

After Wells, John studied geology at Leeds University and he has spent his life in the profession, mainly in the oil industry. He has worked all over the world including in Aberdeen, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Bahrain, Germany & Nigeria. He says he is now “probably retired but is hoping the oil price goes up which might entice me out of retirement.” Perhaps not all OWs will share this particular wish.

In his junior days at Wells John was once judged “the smartest cub in Mid Somerset” and he enjoyed his scouting in his later years. He was also a good rugby player and for much of his later life has played squash, once representing the Association vs the school.

The reunion weekend promises to be quite an event and we very much look forward to it.

David Young – a sporting life

David Young

At a very pleasant London Social yesterday I met David Young (OW 1963) who is now retired from his career in teaching and sports management culminating in a post at UK Athletics until his retirement in 2008. Since then he has focussed on less physical pursuits; he has written three novels under the nom de plume David Lowther and a non-fiction title Liberating Belsen.

He was a fine sportsman at Wells, playing first team rugby and hockey, was Captain of Athletics and was selected to represent Somerset in national cross-country event.

After Wells he read Physical Education at St John’s College York which he described at the time as “dangerous, yet great fun”.

The Wellensian records that he was head of his house and presided over the Debating Society. He also had dramatic talents - at an end of term concert when in the Lower V he performed in a comedy skit of What’s my Line? and “reduced us almost to tears when he gave a demonstration of a matron putting lumps in school porridge.” He was also a member of the Chorus of Pirates, Policemen and General Stanley's Daughters in The Pirates of Penzance.

David has promised to come to future reunions and we greatly look forward to keeping in touch with him.

Home Wongwechwiwat – Wells Ambassador

Home Wongwechwiwat2

Home Wongwechwiwat (OW 2009) is a well remembered specialist violinist at Wells who has demonstrated that the school also creates wide opportunities beyond music. He went to Royal Holloway College, University of London for an Economics Degree, then to the LSE for an MSc and is now with Citibank’s treasury operations in his native Bangkok

His music is still important to him and it was a pleasant surprise for Mr Ashley Deacon, Director of International Recruitment at Wells to find that Home had arranged to support a WCS recruitment seminar at the Yamaha Bangkok Music School. The conversations he had in Thai, and recounting his own experience, led to a registration at Wells from a specialist level pianist.

Home joined the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra at age 14 and he reached the final round of the Young Musician of Thailand competition. He has been equally committed to his studies, winning an award in his undergraduate year and his interpersonal skills – he once had a vacation job at Royal Ascot soothing unhappy punters.

We wish him well in both his money and music making and hope to see him back in Wells one day.

Becky Blackburn – a Master in sports

Becky Blackburn

An OW who keeps in close touch with her yeargroup is Becky Blackburn (OW 2013). Becky is in the final year of her psychology degree at Exeter University and plans to go on to an MSc in Sport and Exercise Psychology in September 2018.

Becky was a keen sportswoman at Wells and was Equestrian Captain in her final year. She previously had success with her horse Merlin’s Mist at the National Novice Eventing Team Championships. She was also a DoE Gold Award winner.

After Wells she took a gap year and travelled – we look forward to seeing her again soon.

A hug from Harriet Birkett

Harriet Birkett

Good to have news of Harriet Birkett (OW 2013) who while at Wells took part in a mass hug of the cathedral in celebration of 1,100 years of the School.

She also won a year prize and was a great Netball captain. After Wells, Hattie went to The University of West London to do a BSc in children’s nursing and came away with first class honours. She is now a practicing paediatric nurse.

She also enjoys travel and joined Darcey Bussel’s Diverse Dance Mix, meeting Darcey several times. We look forward to hearing more news and hope to see her again soon.

Tony Lake and breaking the bank

Tony Lake

Nice to have news from Tony Lake (OW 1967) who retired ten years ago after over 40 years with Lloyds Bank –  a single employer career unavailable, even unimaginable to millennials. Tony worked on the Loyds-TSB merger in 1998 which took him all over the country. He finds it ironic that the brands have now been broken apart again.

He has happy memories of Wells where, coincidentally, there was quite a sea of Lakes. “I have amusing memories of how the guest giving out the medals on Sports Day got quite confused with so many ‘Lakes’ in the open events : 100 yds - C A B Lake (Tony); 220 yds - C A B Lake; 440 yds - R V Lake (OW 1967); 880 yds - R V Lake ; 1 mile - M F Lake (OW 1968); 3 miles M F Lake; Hop Step and Jump - C A B Lake.”

He has his Ruby wedding anniversary coming up with wife Sue and they have daughter Stephanie whose husband reports directly to Chris Dawson, billionaire owner of The Range and whose car registration is DE11BOY. They also have daughter Joanna working for National Research.

He says “I see David Oatley, Roger Parsons and Jon Allen (all OW 1969) on a regular basis, and I hope to get to one of The Wellensian Association events and meet old colleagues.”

Colin Linford – a long time supporter

Colin Linford

I am pleased to mention Colin Linford (OW 1962) who has been a staunch supporter of your Association since he left Wells and we have been glad to see him at many events over the years.

Colin has now retired from his career in data communication planning with BT Radianz and previously with Thomson Reuters. This work took him to Germany, Switzerland and the Middle East but he now travels every year for pleasure to Greece where his wife Georgia has family connections. He has two sons, one of whom married last year.

As a former chorister he still has a great interest in music, along with genealogy. Our Wells Living Archive reveals that he was also an accomplished pianist - he played a solo Handel piece in a school concert. In his junior house he was keen stamp collector and later he performed in The Pirates of Penzance. He was a member of the Debating Society and once proposed (and won) the motion that “Stink bombs are of more use than H. bombs.”

He keeps in keep in touch with David Chapman (OW 1962) and Malcolm Brinson (OW 1962) and we look forward to seeing Colin and Georgia again at another reunion.

Freya Ballan-Whitfield ahead of the game

Freya Ballan-Whitfield

Currently in her final year of a Consumer Behaviour and Marketing Degree at Reading University, Freya Ballan-Whitfield (OW 2013) has already secured a marketing job for September. She has been associated since 2016 with Opsview which delivers smarter integrated IT solutions for business.

At Wells Freya achieved high academic grades and also revealed her creative talents early on. When aged 13 she designed a pair of shoes which were then made by Clarks and at an even younger age she appeared in the local press in the role of the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. I see that in those days she lived in Henton, not far from Ripple Farm where I grew up. I wonder if she cycled the 3½ miles to school and back every day like I did from age 12?

In her Gap year she visited Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Fiji where she joined a community project teaching in school and providing a village with sanitary facilities.

At Reading she has continued her hockey and says that in her first years at uni “I spent more time on the sports fields or going out, rather than actually in lectures doing work!” This evidently hasn’t set Freya back as she looks forward to a great career. We wish her all the best!

Steve Moss hears the people sing

Steve Moss

We are pleased to be back in touch with Steve Moss (OW 1996) who has been appointed Musical Director and Conductor with Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theatre in London from June 11th.

Steve has had a successful career in musical theatre both as an instrumental performer (clarinet & sax) and as a musical director. He has worked on many west end and touring shows, including Miss Saigon, Evita, Funny Girl, White Christmas, Porgy & Bess, West Side Story, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Sister Act, The Wizard of Oz, War Horse, Privates on Parade & Mary Poppins. He also has film and TV credits.

He is Musical Director of The Bourne Orchestra which has worked alongside Lemar, Leona Lewis, Sarah Brightman and Estelle, as well as specialising in live film music.

Steve was a specialist musician at Wells and then won a scholarship to Guildhall School of Music & Drama. He has since played in the English Symphony Orchestra and other orchestras

He is married with a son and daughter and says that he “still see loads of people from School.” We hope that we shall see him again this summer in between his visits aux barricades!

Josh Xerri – early music promise

Josh XerriI continue to catch up with five year OWs; this week Josh Xerri (OW 2013) who is in his final year studying Organ Performance at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. Josh is also artistic director of the Wombourne Music Festival near the city and has a consort of early music singers who are releasing a CD of C16th works by Christobel de Morales and Orlande de Lassus in May.

When at Wells Josh performed many memorable cathedral recitals and was also organ scholar at St. John’s Glastonbury where many wells musicians were supported over the years.

Josh cherishes his Welsh heritage (he did sing in the National Youth Choir of Wales and is returning to Cardiff in September) but he says, “Wells fostered many of my favourite memories and taught me valuable lessons, that I can be whomever I choose to be; and that life sometimes takes you in strange directions!”

Jacob Green – big time

Jacob Green

News from Jacob Green (OW 2013) who is a Software Development Engineer with Amazon Prime Video which “manages petabytes* of assets from ingestion to playback”. Jacob also plays sax in the Warwick Alumni Big Band.

At Warwick University he was awarded an MEng in Computer Science and won his first job with Amazon in a vacation. He also played Big Band, Latin and Ballroom; his music was of course a continuation of his tenor sax performance with the WCS Big Band. Jacob was also an accomplished keyboard player. While at uni he was also a member of Birmingham UOTC.

At Wells he won school prizes and a gold award in a UK wide maths challenge. In his earlier days he also played the big time in the part of a Rich Lord in Hood & Co. We trust this will prove to be a foretelling and wish him all the best in his career.

*1,000,000,000,000,000 bytes.

Imogen Cook in The News

Imogen Cook

I hear that Imogen Cook (OW 2013) is now editorial assistant at The London Illustrated News, the famous illustrated weekly that since 2007 has been a content and creative agency for luxury and heritage organisations. This move builds on her internships in print and broadcast journalism including ITN.

After Wells Imogen went to Birmingham University and gained a first class honours in Theology.

At school, Imogen was Captain of hockey and played for Somerset U17. She was a medal winning athlete and DoE Gold Award winner. Like her siblings she was also a keen member of the CCF. She has kept close friends ever since Wells with Nico Alexandroff (OW 2013) who did such a great job recently helping to organise the five year reunion for the yeargroup.

She still calls Somerset home and is regularly back with her family and Humphrey the dog. We wish them all well.

Bryan Moon - the right chemistry

Bryan Moon

It is always very nice to catch up with former chemical scientist Bryan Moon (OW 1962) who is a regular attender at our London reunions. He is the type of long term supporter that is the foundation of our Association.

Bryan is now retired after spending his whole career of 37 years with GlaxoSmithKline. For most of that time he was an R&D scientist in the Beecham pharmaceutical division and other development chemist posts. He later moved into technical planning and then HQ finance, always working closely with the scientists and engineers. His final post was Finance Director, Global Support Functions.

Bryan says that he has fond memories of Wells. He won academic prizes and was a keen scout, being one of the few to be presented with his Queen’s Scout Badge. After Wells Bryan went to Bath University, firstly for a BSc in Chemistry and then a doctorate in Organic Chemistry on natural product synthesis.

He still lives in Sussex and we look forward to seeing him again next year.

Katie Jarman – a Rolls Royce OW

Katie Jarman

Continuing my OW engineer theme from last week it is nice to have news from Katie Jarman (OW 2010) who is an engineer with Rolls Royce in Derby.

She tells me she has been enjoying hiking the South West Coast Path with Harry Keevil (OW 2010) with whom she has been friends with since her earlier days at Wells. She missed her five year reunion in 2015 but I am pleased she decided to join Lindy Neave (OW 2010) in coming to this year’s London dinner.

At Wells Katie achieved academic success, winning the UVI History Prize and Peter Thomas Prize for Science and achieving four A* in her As. She was also a flute player and social mover known for her cake baking; she gained a D of E Gold and was scorer for the first XI cricket team.

After Wells, Katie went to Cambridge (Murray Edwards College) to read Natural Sciences and gained a Masters Degree in Physics in 2014. We hope she can engineer another Welly reunion before too long!

Doug Fung masters engineering

Doug Fung2

I still have many updates from our London dinner including news from Pak Hin (Doug) Fung (OW 2013) who is in his final (fourth) year of a Masters in mechanical engineering at University of Exeter. Doug is now looking for a graduate position in the engineering industry to further develop his technical and management skills.

At Wells Doug is remembered as a good scientist, an accomplished piano player and for his special enthusiasm for Formula 1 motor sport. He represented Wells in Youth Speaks, a public speaking competition.

He has continued his music at university and is Founder President of the Piano Society. His favourite pastime is to improvise on pop music and do jam sessions with vocalists. He was also representative of his yeargroup and then Subject Chair for Engineering Students last year.

Georgi Morton braves the elements

Georgi Morton

As snowmageddon closes the country down I am glad to see that Georgi Morton (OW 2013) is no snowflake. She enjoys winter sports and is seeking to join the Royal Navy in September for a career of travel and adventure.

Georgi was a good all rounder at Wells, regularly winning academic and language prizes. In sport she was a netball player of note and represented the SW of England at sailing. In music she played in a year band early on and later sang in the Chapel Choir. Way back in Hood & Co. she once played the role of a Sister without Mercy.

After Wells, Georgina went to Bristol to study Italian and Russian and graduated last summer. She is now studying for an MSc in Global Political Economy at the University of the West of England. Throughout her time at university she has been a member of Bristol University Royal Naval Unit and this year she is the Senior Midshipman. She says that “being in the URNU has provided me with opportunities to see what life is like as a Royal Naval Officer, leading me to apply to the Royal Navy and hopefully begin training at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth in September.”

Georgi Morton 4

Pictured at a parliamentary reception celebrating 100 years of Women in the RN in December 2017.

Jon Edwards finds financial security

Jon Edwards

Among the OWs at our recent black tie event was Jon Edwards (OW 2013). I hear that Jon moved in September to Group Transformation in Lloyds Banking Group as Cyber Security Manager and is greatly enjoying his new role.

This is quite a change of scene from his previous work with Walt Disney Corporation where he began in Walt Disney World in Florida and later became the creator of AV content played in Disney Stores across the UK, USA and Europe. Jon now develops and deploys his videography skills in his spare time via his business which offers video content creation across music, theatre and other sectors.

Jon gained a first in geology at Durham University, continuing his success in the subject at Wells and he is still an earth sciences enthusiast. Among his other accomplishments when at school, he beat 12 contestants to the title of Rotary Young Chef of the year. He also performed in several dramas including Hood & Co. in which he played the Sherriff of Nottingham. We wish him every success in all his endeavours.

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!