Chipping Campden School 1966-1973
I enjoyed discussing things at school – often at the wrong times, like in assembly – the most effective disciplinary measure was from Mr Fell after he made me stand at the front again he told me that the Head Girl, my sister Liz, would be ashamed of my behavior! The fact that I enjoyed talking meant that I was form representative on the School Council every year.
Although not a natural ball player I had developed some physical strength from working on my Dad’s farm. This meant that when a cabal of teachers with Welsh roots, led by Mr Thomas and Mr Slade, decided to introduce rugby union to Campden. This gave me an outlet for my energy and although we were never the best team in the region I had great fun representing the school from the age of 14 and eventually captaining the 1st XV. (going on to play in Swansea, captaining the University of Pennsylvania and represnting the Midlands province in Zimbabwe.)
To my surprise my peers at Campden School voted for me to be Head Boy – probably for a laugh because like most teenagers I was a bit anti-establishment. I enjoyed the experience and won my first school awards: –
- Loyalty & Public Spirit Bright Cup
- Dean Payne Smith Award
- Scholars War Memorial Prize
- Booth Cup – Proficiency in Works & Games.
Although I had not identified any specific ambitions, the rugby enthusiast, and bonne viveur, Mr Taffy Thomas, had encouraged me to explore things and catalysed my appetite for inorganic chemistry.
I think that my year were the second to go through the school in its current status as a Comprehensive. In the hands of Mr A L Jones (the Beak), the strict but fair, democratic Headmaster, it seemed to be a system less socially divisive than the proceeding one. Anyway coming from the little village on the other side of Dover’s Hill, I really enjoyed bumping into youngsters from all over the North Cotswolds.
After studying Metallurgy at Swansea, were I was awarded the Sidney Gilchrist Thomas Medal and a prize from British Steel, I had expected to go into an Industrial Graduate training programme but as a result of the first ‘Oil Price shock’ and my secret interests in history my professional career began as a Scientific Officer working on the conservation of metallic antiquities. It didn’t take me too long to work out that it was not possible to live the high life in London on a Civil Servants salary – at least not in those days! So if I wanted to work in industry I had to go back to school and after making some American friends, on an archaeological dig in Cambridge, I learned that I could apply for scholarships in the USA.
I lived in an international community in Philadelphia working with a Professor from England alongside Japanese, Chilean, Chinese, American and Scottish students and opening a not-for-profit bar wine bar! In the last two years I have had the pleasure of meeting up again with Philadelphians in Chile and Japan.
My first industrial experience followed in Zimbabwe, after my brother recovered the job advertisement from his rubbish bin. This was a fantastic opportunity to work in the country where war had just ended and I could apply my theoretical knowledge working with seven submerged arc electric furnaces.
Although offered an opportunity to extend my contract I decided to move on to broaden my experience but in those days communications were limited so I went back to school again this time at Imperial College, London, completing a MSc in Mineral Process Design and winning a prize from the Society for Underwater Technology. From there it was a three-year assignment in Ghana, West Africa, where I met my wife Emily.
Since then time has flown by I have worked for companies designing mineral processing plants, producing special ferro-alloys from scrap and improving the environmental performance of metallurgical operations. Working around big furnaces is quite scary and a bit like marmite – you love, or hate, it! This has taken me to more then 35 countries where I have been lucky to work with some great people and learnt a bit more about life. There are cultural differences but these can usually be overcome by good manners and/or good humour.
My travels have shown me that many people in the world do not have the opportunities and privileges that I was given at CCS , perhaps I should have made better use of them. My recommendation to current pupils would be to push yourself to explore your abilities and never stop trying to discover new ways of doing things. The world is now a small place but it is getting crowded – try to focus on the things that interest you and be the best you can at those. We can all make the world a better place by making the best use of our talents. Find inspiration, enjoy life and you will be at home wherever you are in the world.
The 600 year anniversary will be in 2040 and there will be many former pupils around to celebrate – I will be there too, at least in spirit!