Viewing archives for Alumni

New country, new career: Hadleigh combines a life in IT with his long-standing devotion to service

Hadleigh Rush’s career has taken him from local charity fund-raising to a key role with software giant VMware, from working in Watford to a new life in the deserts of Arizona.

Yet throughout his professional life, there is one common thread: “I have found a passion for giving back and serving.”

Today, he and his wife, Christa, work for several charitable organisations and he is heavily committed to Make-a-Wish, a non-profit organisation founded in the United States that fulfils life-changing wishes for children with a critical illness.

Had (OE 1985–1990), who recently paid a visit to QE, says memories of his School days remain clear. Coupled with the appointment of Eamonn Harris as Headmaster in 1984, it was the arrival mid-term of a class from another county whose school was closing that played a key role in saving QE, which was itself slated for closure at the time. “That was my class!” says Had.

“I was a trumpet player with Mr Ellis’s band for most of the time I was at QE. We toured a fair amount to other schools, competitions, the opening of ToysRUs Brent Cross, and we even played on the stage at the Royal Albert Hall – I think we played twice that day.”

His parents were, he says devoted to QE, organising the first coach system (“…as the horrors of the 107 route from QE to Stanmore still haunt me today!”) They also donated Music stand covers for both the band and orchestra. “I was really thrilled to see Music is such a huge part of QE now: our Music room back in the late 80s was just the small area to the left of the main stage by the only computer lab we had at the time.”

Had was in the cast for the drama production, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, along with several of the classmates pictured in his class photo. A member of Pearce House, he recalls spending a great deal of time enjoying Drama and Music, as well as in the computer lab and in the library. “I attempted Latin. I received detention a few times in my day and was called into our Headmaster’s [Eamonn Harris] office once, but generally was a well-behaved pupil.”

On leaving, he studied at the University of Hertfordshire. After that, he embarked on his first career, working for a Watford-based charity with a mission to raise £1m, and then £1m every year, to turn a derelict hospital built in 1925 into what is now the Peace Hospice.

“I spent about six years working for the Hospice, managing a group of about 40 awesome volunteers who never seemed to tire as we raised money through charity shops and holding, or helping to organise, hundreds of public fundraising events. The hospice opened a temporary day care centre in mobile offices, until HRH Princess Michael of Kent opened the main facility in 1996.

“I also was an active member of the Radlett Round Table. During this period, I made so many friendships and relationships with volunteers, local mayors, doctors, celebrities, press, MPs, members of the clergy, JPs and an OBE, some of whom I still communicate with today.

“In 1999, I found myself uprooting my small village way of life and moving to the dry heat of the Sonoran Desert in Arizona.” Unable at the time to afford the cost of transferring his UK qualifications to the US, he went to college there, while also starting a job as a critical accounts specialist for a small, family-run credit counseling agency.”

“This agency grew ten times larger by 2002. Within a year, I found myself passing five IT industry certifications and being hired in the IT department. The following year, I took an active role in designing the IT infrastructure in their new 40,000sq ft state-of-the-art call centre here in North Phoenix. This was my first exposure to some newfangled technology called ‘virtualisation’. I was hooked on VMware.”

[In computing, virtualisation refers to the creation of a virtual (rather than actual) version of something, including virtual computer hardware platforms, storage devices, and computer network resources. VMware is a global company providing cloud computing and virtualisation software and services.]

“After spending ten years at this agency and working my way up the IT ladder, I had completed another degree and a series of updated IT certifications specialising in virtualisation and security.”

Although he had no thought of leaving the company, since he enjoyed the friendly work atmosphere, he applied to, and was interviewed for, all kinds of jobs in order to gain experience in application-writing and interviewing tactics (“Something I recommend if you have the time.”)

“I was contacted by an HR firm in New York who were looking for a Support person for a Phoenix-based company. On the phone, I found out the company, 10ZiG Technology, was across the street from the agency I was working at, so I took the interview with the CEO. The interview lasted an hour: we talked little about the company or position; we talked about life, England and moving to America. The owner of the company was originally from Leicester; the company had offices in the UK, Israel, Sydney and Italy, and was now headquartered in Phoenix. That evening the CEO sent me a rather nice job offer through email. I took two days to think about the offer and graciously wrote back and declined. The next day I received a substantially increased offer to take on the role of Support & Technical Manager of 10ZiG Technology – which I jumped at.

“I spent five years with this company, continuing my passion for virtualisation. I had the pleasure of travelling the US – and a few times back to England – for meetings, dealer presentations/conferences. During this time, I specialised in many different virtualisation solutions, but mainly focused my talents on those from VMware.

He had no intention of leaving “the 10ZiG family”, where the perks included paid visits back home to the UK, until he was contacted by a recruitment officer for the one company that he had dreamed of working for, VMware itself. “The gruelling interview process lasted four months of phone and of one-to-one and panel interviews, which included on-the-spot whiteboarding demonstrations.”

In December 2015, he was offered a position with VMware within its prestigious Technical Account Organization. Today he is a Senior VMware Technical Account Manager, engaged with a small set of VMware US’s large Enterprise customers. “I am my customers’ single point of contact for all their VMware-related questions, and I provide them with enablement, recommendations, coordinate projects, issue-management and problem-solving resolutions from my experience and skill sets. I am constantly building my knowledge and expertise on the latest and future technological solutions that transform traditional IT shops to the next generation of hybrid of on-premises and cloud-based datacentres.”

Three-and-a-half years ago, Had married Christa. They recently moved to an area outside the Phoenix metropolitan area “nestled in the mountains, away from the city life”. Had relishes this environment: “There is a beauty to the Arizona landscape, with the natural hardscaped desert, rock and abundant plant life and animals that survive here. We both enjoy hiking around the mountains in our area, but also enjoy taking a break from the heat by going just 100 miles up the road to the forests.”

That heat can be considerable: on the day he wrote to Alumni News, it hit 111F (44C). “It is something to get used to. Also something to get used to is that Arizona is still considered the wild, wild west, founded just 107 years ago. We have active cattle ranches, bull-riding, gold and silver mines, real cowboys and [the historic town of] Tombstone; gold-panning is still a thing here.

“In my spare time here in Arizona, my wife and I continue our shared passion for giving back and serving. We have spent 10 years volunteering with multiple charitable organisations, such as Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), who breed and train highly skilled service dogs, providing them free of charge. We get to spend time with our puppies in training and also to spend a day golfing with celebrity pro-golfers and even Alice Cooper (pictured with Had).

“Another big volunteering passion of ours is Make-A-Wish, founded in Arizona. My wife and I are on track to grant a total of over 70 wishes for our ‘Wish-Kids’ this year as volunteer ‘Wish-Granters’.”

There is even cross-over between his charity work and his professional career, thanks to VMware’s own ethos of service and its partnership with Make-A-Wish. “Since the beginning of 2019, I have been volunteering my VMware expertise with Make-A-Wish HQ here in Arizona under the guidance of Make-A-Wish’s CIO and Senior IT Director by providing pro bono VMware Team Account Management services. So now I get really get to combine my career and my passion for giving back.”

In addition, VMware takes an active interest in all his charity work, encouraging him to log his hours not only with Make-A-Wish, but also with CCI and church ministries with which he is involved. “Once I reach 40 hours a year (which doesn’t take me long), VMware awards me with $1000 to a send to a charity. This year I have selected The Friends of Queen Elizabeth’s to receive the grant.”

On his recent trip back to QE, he enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with the Headmaster, Neil Enright, and to take a tour. “I thoroughly recommend to any OE to reach out and book time for a visit if you have not been back in the last 10-plus years. I think you will be amazed at the recent history and achievements of Neil, his team and the pupils.”

Starring roles: alumni aim to inspire current pupils with a love for space

Five veterans of QE’s past national and international successes in space design competitions returned to Barnet to help stage an inter-school Galactic Challenge.

Aadil Kara (OE 2010–2017), who has just completed the second year of a Physics degree at Imperial College, is currently Chair of the Galactic Challenge (GC) – a regional competition for younger pupils and a sister competition to the UK Space Design Competition (UKSDC). In his final year at QE, Aadil progressed from the UKSDC to the International Space Settlement Design Competition, hosted by NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Aadil, worked with QE’s Head of Physics, Jonathan Brooke, to help the School host a Galactic Challenge for secondary schools in London.

“Old Elizabethans are currently playing a key role in the organisation of both the UKSDC and the GC,” said Mr Brooke. “I’m hugely impressed by their willingness to give up their time to support these competitions which give children from schools across the country experience of working in large teams under a tight deadline – a taste of the challenges associated with professional life that are difficult to replicate in the classroom.”

Helping Aadil and Mr Brooke were Aadil’s QE contemporaries and former UKSDC co-competitors, Neelesh Ravichandran, Harikesan Baskaran and Sam Bayney, as well as David Dubinksy, who attended QE from 2012–2016. Neelesh, Harikesan and Sam all served as Coordinators on the day, while David, who, like Aadil, reached the international stages of UKSDC in his year, was the volunteer CEO for one of the competing teams, or ‘companies’.

The Galactic Challenge is a space industry simulation challenge for students aged 10-14. Children design a settlement in space within just a few hours, competing against other teams, as well as the clock.

At QE, in addition to the School’s own Year 7 company, named Columbus Aviation, there were entries from: Dame Alice Owen’s School; The Charter School, North Dulwich; The Henrietta Barnett School and The Latymer School.

Aadil said: “We run GC competitions throughout the country firstly to stimulate students’ interests in STEM from the early ages of secondary education, and secondly to help them develop ‘soft skills’, including team-working and interpersonal skills. Having first participated in the process in the Sixth Form, it was a pleasure to be able to bring the competition back to the School.”

The ‘companies’ worked to complete a task set by the fictional Foundation Society. In the morning, they were given a Request for Proposal (RFP) co-written by Aadil that reflects a typical design brief in the space engineering industry; they then spent the day producing designs in response, assisted by a volunteer ‘CEO’ for each company.

The scenario involved them jumping forward to 2069, coinciding with the celebration of the centenary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Students produced designs for Armstrong, the first holiday resort on the moon, named in honour of Neil Armstrong, famously the first person to step on to its surface in 1969.

The Armstrong resort had to include a commemorative area around the Apollo 11 landing site and to host trips from tourists visiting from other settlements around Earth’s orbit. Competitors also had to find a way to make the lower half of the Apollo 11 Lunar Model (which remains on the moon’s surface) the centrepiece of a tourist attraction, whilst considering how to conserve the site.

The companies’ design proposals considered almost all aspects of the design of a futuristic space settlement, from the activities offered to tourists to the methods of power generation.

At the end of the day, the companies presented their work in ten minutes to an audience of parents, their peers, and a judging panel. In the presentations, students suggested ideas including: settlements made out of recycled materials; rearing rabbits on the moon, and Earthrise viewing platforms, with the home QE team suggesting lunar bungee-jumping. The winning team was a combined company – Astrodyne Delta – drawn from Dame Alice Owen’s School and The Charter School, North Dulwich.

Afterwards, Neelesh, who has come to the end of his second year at Imperial, where he is reading Electrical and Electronic Engineering, said: “Volunteering at UKSDC is a truly rewarding experience. The enthusiasm, curiosity and ingenuity of the participants is awe-inspiring and has served to remind me of why I study engineering. Both these competitions are a test of character and imagination, for volunteers and participants alike.”

Harikesan has finished the second year of a Mechanical Engineering/Computational Engineering and Design at Southampton. He starts a placement with Rolls-Royce Motor Cars this month. “Volunteering at the UKSDC and GC competitions provides an invaluable opportunity to encourage students to see STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics] in its true colours.”

David, who has just finished the third year of an Aeronautical Engineering degree at Durham University, still recalls the inspiration he drew from the UKSDC himself: “Taking part in the competition sparked a strong obsession with space; I was drawn by the utopian, fantastical designs of future space settlements and enjoyed imagining life in such a future. I opened a space society at QE, which some OEs may remember, and attended the annual Student Space Conference in Year 12, a fantastic event organised by the same parent organisation as the Galactic Challenge, the UK Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (UK SEDS). At Durham, I’ve also joined the university’s SEDS branch where we had some great networking with brave local startups and have helped organise trips to the Student Space Conference. My first internship was in a small electronics company, as it was technically in the space sector.”

Although the internship proved to be a disappointing experience, during his time there he was able to re-focus on what he really wanted – “to pursue unprecedented and utopian technology design” – which led him into the field he is currently targeting, namely “minimal-fuel, lighter-than-air travel, in other words engineering modern blimps and airships!” It is, reflects David, “all a long chain of events from saying ‘yes’ to my friend asking me if I wanted to fill an empty space in the first QE UKSDC team, which I turned down at first because I was nervous!”

Sam has finished the second year of a Medicine degree at Southampton. He said: “It’s good to see kids taking an interest in these types of projects at this age – it develops skills they will need to solve the global problems facing us in the near future.”

Thriving in a fast-changing world: Junior Awards 2019

With more than 100 prizes presented, the Junior Awards Ceremony in the final week of the academic year gave public recognition to the high achievement and outstanding commitment of QE’s youngest pupils.

The formal ceremony in the School Hall took its traditional form, with the audience of prize-winners, their parents, VIP guests and staff treated to classical music interludes during the prize-giving.

Yet in his speech, Headmaster Neil Enright reminded the young high-fliers that theirs is a changing world: “If rapid progress is a feature of our School, it most certainly is in aspects of the wider world. Whilst much focus this month is on the 50th anniversary of the moon landings, it is also the 100th anniversary of the first two-way crossing of the Atlantic by airship. That only fifty years should separate those landmark events, itself would seem to emphasise the point. The rate of technological and human progress has never been so great.”

This, said Mr Enright, provided the boys both with wonderful opportunities and new challenges. “Try new things and broaden your base of skills and knowledge, as your generation will need to adapt in an economy and a society disrupted by technology and associated structural change.”

Technological change was also making the globe “smaller, more connected and more accessible,” he added. “In the last year boys here have been variously to Canada (for rugby and skiing), Beijing (for astrophysics), Russia (for History and Politics), France and Germany (on language exchange programmes), Sicily (for Geography), Kentucky (for robotics) and New York (for an international mock trial competition), among other destinations.

“But” the Headmaster said, “we may have reached a moment when progress is not all about faster, further and bigger – at least in the non-digital world. Climate change, for example, means grappling with new imperatives, of doing things smarter, cleaner and more sustainably.”

The implications of this for QE’s pupils were clear: “It is through a rounded combination of academic, technical, creative and social skills that progress on the biggest issues facing us in the future will rely. This is a roundedness we try to prepare you for…You are in a privileged position to be well set to face that future with confidence and optimism, building on your prior success to progress further and further, to thrive in a changing world, and to change it.”

Among the VIP guests at the afternoon ceremony were Councillor Lachhya Gurung, Deputy Mayor of the Borough of Barnet, as well as governors and representatives of the Friends of Queen Elizabeth’s. In his welcome to the Deputy Mayor, the Headmaster pointed to his 18 years of service with the Brigade of Gurkhas and his longstanding chairmanship of the Burnt Oak Nepalese Community.

The Headmaster also welcomed the Guest of Honour, Old Elizabethan Akash Gandhi (2005–2012), who, he told the audience, had himself picked up no fewer than five Junior Awards when he was in Year 7, for Geography, Mathematics, Science, Stapylton House and the overall Charles Fitch Memorial Award for Outstanding Commitment.

In his speech, Akash, who is currently working as a Junior Doctor, urged current boys not to forget the values and ethos of QE.

Akash threw himself into life as a pupil, playing cricket (he was described by the Headmaster as an “excellent all-rounder”), getting involved in debating, helping younger boys through peer mentoring, supporting the Sai School Appeal and serving as a Senior Lieutenant, then one of the leading positions within the prefect team.

On leaving, he went up to Queens’ College, Cambridge, to read Medicine, taking a first-class degree with prize & honours. From there, he went to University College London, for his clinical training, again excelling in his studies. Akash is now a Junior Doctor in Northwick Park Hospital, Harrow, but carves out time every year to support QE’s aspiring Sixth Form medics with their UCAT (University Clinical Aptitude Test) preparations.

Akash recalled the message instilled in him by his father: “It is not about what you do, but who you become by what you do.” It is, he said, more important to be concerned about what will be said in your eulogy than what is written in your CV.

And Akash had three specific areas of advice. The first was to find and follow your passions. “During my time at QE, my passions were my culture, cricket, charity work and football. And so, at university I found myself as the Vice-President of Cambridge University’s India Society. I also captained my college’s cricket team all the way to the final of the cup tournament – despite only ever representing QE’s C team.”

The second area was to find your mentors and to remember to thank them. “You are not alone, and you’d be a fool not to seek advice from those around you, especially in an establishment like this one.

“Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, embrace the power of true friendships – trust me on this one,” Akash told the boys. “From my experience, boys of this School look out for each other long after they have stopped sporting its badge. Joining Stapylton House with Mr [Mark] Peplow at the helm, little did I realise the everlasting friendships that I would go on to make. With some of them, I have travelled across central America, Asia and Australia. With others, I have worked together to help provide treatment for patients attending emergency departments across London.

“I can safely say that I am still surrounded by the values, ethos and ethic that I felt whilst studying at QE. I suppose that’s easy to say when I got to work last Friday to find that four out of the five doctors on my team were also QE boys. And as for the fifth? She’s a proud mother of a son who currently goes to QE!

“Congratulations on your achievements, keep working hard, and the best of luck for the future,” Akash concluded.

During the afternoon, the School’s young musicians performed works by Handel, Bach, Chopin and the Bohemia-born Josef Fiala, who died in 1816. A Recessional piece was composed by Year 12’s Ifeatu Obiora and Federico Rocco.

The vote of thanks was delivered by Saim Khan, winner of the Year 7 award for public speaking.

The awards presented covered a full range of academic subjects and extra-curricular activities, with some also recognising service to the School.

After the ceremony, boys and their parents enjoyed refreshments with staff and other guests.

Founder’s Day: a fitting celebration for the whole Elizabethan community

Formality and fun came together on Founder’s Day to create a fitting 446th anniversary for Queen Elizabeth’s School.

Pupils, old boys, parents, staff and many other supporters of the School turned out in force for the afternoon fete, which followed the traditional church service and the reading of the School roll and of the School Chronicle earlier in the day.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “It was a very happy occasion and a great celebration of the School’s 446th birthday, enjoyed by all parts of our community.

“I was particularly pleased to see so many Old Elizabethans returning to their alma mater: the number of alumni who attend is rising year by year. This year, they ranged in age from 18 to 90, some of them regular visitors and others coming back to QE for the first time since leaving.”

The Founder’s Day service in Chipping Barnet Parish Church began in stirring style with the processional piece, Sigfrid Karg-Elert’s Now thank we all our God, performed by organist Drew Sellis, of Year 12, who also led the Chamber Choir’s contributions to the service.

“The music was perhaps particularly strong this year, with another highlight being the Magnificat, sung by the School Choir’s trebles and altos,” said Mr Enright.

The guest speaker was Old Elizabethan Tommy Peto (2003–2010), who has recently embarked on a new role in management and strategy consulting after enjoying a glittering academic career at Oxford. Since going up to Brasenose College to read Philosophy, Politics and Economics, he has won several academic prizes and gone on to take an MPhil in Politics, before completing his doctorate last year.

In his speech, Tommy urged the boys who were in the congregation to find out what they enjoy and to be both creative and hard-working in the way they pursue it as a career. “Your friends might all want to become lawyers, perhaps your parents want you to become a doctor. These are good professions, interesting, challenging and worthwhile. But you shouldn’t live someone else’s dream. If you do, neither you nor they will be fulfilled…There’s an old adage here: choose a job you love, and you’ll never work another day in your life.

“You should think widely about what it is that you enjoy, to find out what you want to do. This is such an exciting time, with huge changes in technology and society upending how we work. There are so many jobs that didn’t exist for our parents.

He continued: “Think creatively about what you might want to do, and if the role doesn’t exist, create it.

“If I had to boil this down…, it would be into these three things: find what it is you enjoy; be creative about how to do what you enjoy, and do it. Because you can do it. You’re bright. You’re at a top school, and you’re in one of the world’s most dynamic cities. You can do it. But it’s up to you to decide what ‘it’ is. Now go do it,” he concluded.

The Headmaster said later: “I am most grateful to Tommy: his speech was engaging, entertaining and accessible for the boys who were in the congregation. It was lovely to welcome his parents, partner and brothers to the School for the occasion – his younger brother Harry being an OE himself [2005-2012].”

After the service, the boys walked back to the School, accompanied by their teachers, who wore academic gowns for the occasion. The School assembled in front of the Main Building for the reading of the roll and of the School Chronicle. This tradition, established by Headmaster Ernest Jenkins in 1930, involves the Headmaster reading aloud a formal history of the School, which is updated annually.

Then it was time for the fete to begin. Organised by the Friends of Queen Elizabeth’s, this colourful event takes place on Stapylton Field, with stalls and attractions to cater for all ages and tastes. The fete is FQE’s biggest fund-raising event of the year.

Conditions were a little challenging for the Jazz Band as they performed, requiring them to resort to the tried-and-tested method of securing the pages of their scores with clothes pegs to stop them blowing away entirely! Undeterred, they put the crowd In the Mood with Glen Miller’s classic swing piece, alongside a selection of other popular tunes.

Some of the visiting alumni participated in the afternoon’s cricket match, which pits the School against an OE XI. Changeable conditions made for a tricky wicket for the batsmen on both sides.

After the OEs were bowled out relatively quickly, a straightforward win for the School seemed to be on the cards, but as the OE attack began toppling the School’s middle and lower order, the game suddenly looked in the balance. In the end, the School was, though, able to surpass the OEs’ total.

“As ever, a fun and friendly atmosphere pervaded the cricket fixture,” said the Headmaster. “Indeed, the same may be said for the afternoon as a whole – the weather held and the atmosphere at the fete was tremendous. My thanks go to all – including FQE volunteers, the many participating boys and my colleagues – for their contributions to making the event such a success.”

  • The fete raised £21,000 in cash donations on the day, with a further £3,000 donated via a Just Giving page.
George the Poet’s game-changing approach sweeps the board at the British Podcast Awards

Old Elizabethan George Mpanga has achieved unprecedented success – including winning the main Podcast of the Year title – in the British Podcast Awards.

George the Poet’s eight-part podcast, entitled Have you heard George’s podcast?, creatively combines music, drama, news and poetry. It won a record four golds alongside the main prize, as well as two silvers.

There was reward, too, for another QE alumnus, Bilal Harry Khan (OE 2003–2010). Over the Bridge, a podcast Bilal makes with three black and mixed-race friends he met while studying at Cambridge, won bronze in the Acast Moment of the Year category. Bilal took the time to congratulate his fellow Elizabethan, George, on his success via Twitter.

In his acceptance speech at the ceremony attended by celebrities including Fearne Cotton and Michael Sheen, George (OE 2002–2009) said the podcast was “something I was itching for for a long time when I was in the music industry, prior to that when I was just in the streets, just a rapper, and I knew that there was so much wrong that needed to be unpacked”.

He paid tribute to his parents, who were in the audience, as well as thanking others, including his community and his ancestors.

Speaking afterwards, George told the BBC that he first established the podcast because he “wanted to give young people a way to rethink their situation, especially if they’re in the inner city like I was”.

The judges’ citation for the Audioboom Podcast of the Year prize stated: “This podcast showed a level of creativity and craft that was impressive. Alongside it, the entry displayed well-thought-through story-telling which ensured a compelling listen. George the Poet has succeeded in challenging the notion of what can be achieved through podcasting.”

George also won gold in the following categories:

  • Best Arts & Culture: “This is a podcast that deserves your time. It felt a little like a piece of art itself – pushing the boundaries of podcast production,” the judges wrote.
  • Best Fiction: “The judges felt that Have You Heart George’s Podcast? exceeded all our expectations. It is an engrossing podcast: fresh, original, surprising, moving, well-written with breathtakingly beautiful sound design and mesmerising performances. An outstanding and worthy winner.”
  • Best New Podcast: “The judges were impressed with this exceptional, unusual podcast’s bravery and invention. This podcast is unlike anything else out there. It moves between fiction, fact, poetry and reportage to create a new and unforgettable listening experience.”
  • Smartest Podcast: “This podcast captures a unique and powerful voice and views which are so often missing from mainstream media. Using arresting poetry to tackle big issues head on, each episode is a rich and mesmerising performance.”

The silvers were in the Acast Moment of the Year and Best Current Affairs categories.

Among the topics covered in George’s series were the Grenfell Tower fire, the 2011 London riots, whether music causes crime and the glamorisation of violence.

In her report on the awards for the Guardian, Miranda Sawyer highlighted not only that George eschewed the predictable and included some surprising ‘takes’, but also praised the podcast’s use of music (“treated with the respect it deserves”) and the “properly high quality” sound design, complete with “muffled phone chat, voice-note pings, computer key taps moving in and around the voices”.

QE lays foundation for Richard’s flourishing film-scoring career

Richard Collins is now an award-winning composer writing bespoke music for film, TV and games, with his first musical release and collaboration with Universal’s Aurora Production Music label just out.

Yet, if it had not been for the sage advice he was offered by a teacher when in the Sixth Form, it could all have been very different.

Richard (OE 2005–2012) originally planned to study Law at university. “Although I really struggled to write my personal statement, I managed to get something together and got ready to send off my applications.

“It was only when I gave my personal statement to Mr Hargadon [Liam Hargadon, currently Head of Politics] that he made me realise I was heading in completely the wrong direction.

“Writing my personal statement to study Music was one of the easiest 500 words I’ve ever written.

“Also, there is no doubt my musical experiences at QE were instrumental in laying the foundation for my career.”

After achieving straight As at QE – where he had been a Music Scholar – Richard went on to read Music at Durham, where he first acquired a love for composition. He went on to take a first-class Master’s degree in Composition for Film and Television at Bristol University.

In 2016, his music featured in a Student BAFTA-nominated documentary film, A Lion’s Tale. The following year, he was nominated for the Monkey Bread Tree Award for best original score for the film Rambling On. And then, also in 2017, he won second prize at the annual film-scoring competition for the California Independent Film Festival (CAIFF).

A pianist and clarinettist, Richard has performed at the Royal Albert Hall, Birmingham Symphony Hall, Croydon’s Fairfield Halls and at one of the Queen’s garden parties. He gives private piano or music production tuition to students. In September, he will be joining QE as a peripatetic Music teacher (piano and composition).

He is the co-founder and director of White Square Films, a production company covering all types of video and media production. He has also worked as an assistant to leading composers Martin Phipps and Samuel Sim on productions including Season 3 of Netflix’s The Crown and the BBC’s Black Earth Rising (Phipps) and The Spanish Princess and The Bay (Sim).

In April 2019, Richard’s work appeared on Aurora Production Music’s latest album, Nature’s Way.

  • Richard’s music can be heard on his website.
Making a child’s dream come true: alumni raise money for Sri Lanka education charity

Three Old Elizabethan medics are among a group of London healthcare students who have teamed up to sponsor a child’s education in Sri Lanka.

Raahul Niranchanan (2010–2017), Vipushan Konesalingam (2010-2016) and Athithyan Vijayathasan (2009-2016) are supporting a string of fundraising activities to raise £3,000 for Ocean Stars Trust – a UK charity working in Sri Lanka.

All three are studying at George’s University of London and are committee members of the St George’s Tamil Society.

“If there was one lesson we learnt from attending School at QE, it was the idea that everyone is capable of making a change,” says Raahul.

The team originally began as 17 people meeting in the living room of a house numbered 17A, hence the team name they adopted, 17A.

Their JustGiving page explains their motivation: “We appreciate that growing up in London…we often take what we have for granted. So, when uni got a bit tough for us and we started complaining, we took a step back: we realised we’ve actually got an opportunity to even get as far as studying a degree.

“But there are kids out there who don’t even know if they would still be in school tomorrow, or who can only dream of having an education.

“We know education is a gift that no one or nothing should take away from you, not even poverty.

“Our aim is to be able to give the opportunity we received so easily to another child. A child who dreams for a better education, a better future and a better life. We hope we can help make those dreams come true.”

The charity they have chosen works closely with orphans and other disadvantaged children in Sri Lanka.

The team got things off to a good start with a successful bake sale at St George’s University, London, which raised £500, followed by a Hot Wing Challenge – a spicy wing-eating contest in which OE courage featured prominently!

For more information, or to donate to Team 17A, go to their JustGiving, Instagram or Facebook page.

Recounting the rise and fall – and rise again – of Classics at QE

Old Elizabethan Professor P J Rhodes, a leading ancient historian, highlights a QE connection in a new academic tribute to one of the world’s foremost experts on Greek art.

Peter John Rhodes (OE 1951–1959), who is usually cited as P J Rhodes, has penned a chapter entitled Buildings and History in a festschrift published this spring, Greek Art in Motion: Studies in honour of Sir John Boardman on the occasion of his 90th birthday.

In the chapter, Professor Rhodes, who is Honorary Professor and Emeritus Professor of Ancient History at the University of Durham, mentions that one of Sir John’s contemporaries at Chigwell School was J W Finnett. John Finnett went on to become a popular Classics master at QE, teaching Professor Rhodes when he was in the Sixth Form.

“In my 14th year of retirement, I remain reasonably compos et mentis et corporis,” says Professor Rhodes. “I am still academically active — reading, writing, participating in conferences, still doing a little teaching and higher-degree examining; an academically focused tour of Iran in 2000 gave me a taste for travelling to exotic places (all too often visiting them shortly before trouble strikes — but my reputation hasn’t yet led to my being denied entry to any country).”

He has also been inspired recently to look further into the history of Classics teaching at QE. In an article for the Old Elizabethans Association’s magazine, the Elizabethan, he charts the fluctuating fortunes of Latin and Greek at the School across the centuries, as well as recording his own memories of his teachers in these subjects.

He was at QE during the last of E H Jenkins’ three decades as Headmaster and was in the last year of two-form entry (60 boys) before the post-war expansion. The senior Latin master in that era was Percival Timson, who had been at the school since 1935. John Finnett joined QE in 1951, aged 23.

“Timson and Finnett were of different generations and different styles, but they made an effective pair,” Professor Rhodes recalls in the Elizabethan article. “Timson hated music: on one of the few occasions when he unbent, he explained that at Oxford he had done little work in his first year so needed to do a lot before taking Mods in his second, and at that stage found any sounds that might distract him intolerable. Finnett was keen on music, but regarded Mozart as the greatest composer of all time and everybody more recent as inferior to him.”

A particular inspiration was “rumbustious” Rex M Wingfield, who was his first-form master and first Latin teacher: “…I think he bears much of the responsibility for my having become a Classicist.”

Another Classics teacher was Lynton E Whiteley, from Cambridge. “…On arrival in 1953 he projected a fierce image, and though I think he mellowed I was always somewhat afraid of him.”
Professor Rhodes is the eldest of three brothers, of whom the youngest, John Andrew, also went to QE and later became a modern historian at Wadham College, Oxford (to which Prof Rhodes went as an undergraduate).

“At School I was in Underne House (under John Pearce); I was successful in the classroom but not on the games field (honour was eventually satisfied when I acted as scorer for cricket teams: the Second XI for two years and then the First XI for three); I was involved in music (as a pianist), in the Elizabethan Union and with the school’s printing press.”

He took Latin, Greek, Ancient History and History A-levels at QE. “I sailed through A Level and S Level, but it then took me two years in the Seventh Form to catch up with the kind of competitors who had started Latin at seven and Greek at nine and had spent their school time on little else.” [S Level, involving extra papers, was for those applying for state scholarships for university, before the later introduction of a universal grant system.]Perseverance, and my parents’ patience, were rewarded, and I did in the end in 1959 achieve the Holy Grail of an Oxford Scholarship in Classics.”

At Oxford, he was a prize-winning undergraduate at Wadham. “As it happens, Finnett later went to Wadham too…as a visiting Schoolmaster Fellow. Sadly, in 1971 he died of cancer, aged only 43.”

Professor Rhodes was awarded a double first-class degree from Oxford. “I continued as a [cricket] scorer in my first year but not thereafter, did not pursue a career in the Union Society, but was involved in music (singing tenor, and, in the absence of better players, acting as a not very good organist).”

He went to Durham as a young lecturer in Classics in 1965 and rose to become, firstly, a senior lecturer, and then, in 1983, Professor of Ancient History there. He retired in 2005 and still lives in Durham.

During his career, he has published extensively on the Classical Greek world; his works span the decades, from The Athenian Boule, published in 1972, to a forthcoming edition of Herodotus, Histories, V.

He has held a number of visiting fellowships; Wolfson College, Oxford (1984), University of New England, Australia (1988), Corpus Christi College, Oxford (1993), and All Souls College, Oxford (1998). He served as President of the Classical Association from 2014 to 2015. In 1987, he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy and in 2005 was made a Foreign Member of the Royal Danish Academy.

“In Durham I continued with choral singing for many years, and again in the occasional absence of better players, as a not very good organist, and for a few years I was involved with a printing press; I have also been an active member (including two stints as secretary) of the Senior Common Room of University College.”

In the mid-2000s, soon after his retirement, the then-Headmaster, Dr John Marincowitz, told him on a visit to the School that he hoped to reintroduce Latin soon. Professor Rhodes has been heartened to learn not only that this was subsequently done – it is now a curriculum subject – but that Greek is today also available as an extra-curricular subject.

Back in Barnet: undergraduates return to QE to advise current boys on uni applications

Around 60 of last year’s leavers who are now two terms into their degree courses came back to QE to contribute to the School’s Universities Convention.

With fresh experience of university life, and with the Sixth Form and university application process such a recent memory, they were well-placed to give some first-hand advice to current Year 12 pupils.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “There is always a good turnout for the convention, and it is excellent to see that that each new cohort of OEs is so willing to stay connected with the School and to actively support it.

“These, the youngest of our Old Elizabethans, are able to provide very current insights into their various courses, clubs and societies and their chosen universities. As such, they are a trusted and valuable source of information for our sixth-formers.

“Staff always enjoy the opportunity to hear how these recent leavers are getting on – even if it can sometimes be hard to recognise some, with their ‘civilian’ clothes, beards and new, non-QE-approved hairstyles!”

The returning alumni had the opportunity to catch up both with each other and with their former teachers in a buffet lunch held for them in the Main Hall, which was provided with assistance from the Friends of Queen Elizabeth’s.

The Year 12 boys were encouraged to be quite specific with their questions to the alumni, asking, for example whether there was anything the students wished someone had told them before they applied.

The current pupils also quizzed the OEs on topics such as the cost of accommodation in university cities.

The Universities Convention is part of QE’s University admissions Support Programme (USP), which is designed to ensure boys receive the best advice, guidance and assistance in preparing university applications.

This sits alongside the broader careers provision, through which boys can look at the jobs, professions and industries they might wish to pursue after university, or what other paths they might want to take upon leaving the School.

Some of the students at the convention had also been in to the School the previous week in order to speak to Year 13 on similar issues: Abbas Adejonwo, Rehaan Bapoo, Dhruv Kanabar, Yashwanth Matta and Oliver Robinson gave advice based upon their experiences as first-year undergraduates at Cambridge, Oxford and Warwick.

Look back in gratitude: ‘urban monk’ Jay recalls support from QE

Global social media star and motivational guru Jay Shetty has paid generous tribute to his QE teachers in an ITV interview.

Jay (OE 1999-2006) was speaking to ITV London news anchor Charlene White about the astonishing worldwide impact of his work, which includes a single video with 366m views and social media channels that have gained 21m followers and amassed some 4 billion views in just three years.

Towards the end of the interview, Jay recalled some of the difficulties of his teenage years: “I used to get into a lot of trouble growing up…I was suspended from school multiple times. That was me looking for meaning, that was me trying to find answers and solutions – and so when I found those, I wanted to share them with the world.”

Asked whether his teachers would be surprised at his current life and career, Jay responded warmly. “I have to say that my teachers at Queen Elizabeth’s boys’ School were very patient with me, they were very coaching, they mentored me very well and, yeah, they were great.”

Jay, who grew up in Wood Green, has previously told the School of his fond memories of his time at QE, singling out Head of Art of Stephen Buckeridge and Assistant Head David Ryan for their support, and pointing to his enjoyment of rugby and of public-speaking classes which, he said, “changed my life”.

On leaving QE, Jay went on to Cass Business School in London, from which he graduated with a first-class degree in Management Science. Then, however, his life took an unusual turn: he spent three years as a monk in India in the Hindu Vedic tradition.

When he returned with a mission to, in his words, “make wisdom go viral”, he was spotted by Arianna Huffington and brought to New York, where he rapidly gained a following for his daily show, HuffPost Live #FollowTheReader.

In 2016, Jay married dietitian Roshni Devlukia. Jay featured in the influential Forbes European 30 Under 30 in 2017 – an accolade he described at the time as “one of the greatest moments in my journey so far”.

In the interview with ITV London, Jay explained the rationale behind his motivational videos. “I saw that social media was a place where so many people were having challenges – they were getting stressed out [because of] anxiety, mental health…What I try and do is use social media in a way that people can turn to it as a guide, as a way of thinking about their thoughts, how to improve their relationships, how to improve their careers…and how they can find meaning in their life.”

Jay, who was also interviewed in recent days by Sky News, presents regular interviews with people in the public spotlight, with his subjects this year including celebrities such as Russell Brand, supermodel Gisele Bündchen and tennis star Novak Djokovic.