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CGA Talks

     

      

Laura Doel 
28th January 2020  

On January 28th we were treated to a particularly inspiring CGA Talk from 2013 Leaver, Laura Doel.

Laura was at St Mary’s for Sixth Form before going to read Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics (LSE) and then landing, what can only be described as, a job in a million. For the past 3½ years Laura has lived in and travelled between London and Manchester, working for City Football Group. Having started as an Operations Development Analyst, Laura is now responsible for supporting special fan growth projects, which in 2019 included managing the Manchester City Global Tour. This involved taking the six trophies (plus their two security guards) and several ex-footballers on an 11-week trip, covering 130,000 miles, meeting and greeting fans all over the world. Laura talked about a succession of incredible moments during the trip and didn't bat an eyelid when referring to sporting heroes.

We are very grateful to Laura for giving us her time and talking to the girls about her fascinating career.

Sophie Hoskins and Xenia Irwin 
8th October 2019  

On 8th October, we were fortunate to welcome sisters, Sophie Hoskins and Xenia Irwin, for a Calne Girls’ Talk, given to the Sixth Formers. Sophie left St Mary’s in 1983 and is now Chief Executive of two Councils in Devon, providing much-needed public services. She completed a Master’s degree while working full time and is also Chair of Trustees for the Cornwall Food Foundation. Xenia left St Mary’s Calne in 1986 and went to Exeter University, taking a vocational degree in Psychology, before she joined the wine trade and went on to qualify as a Master of Wine. Xenia is currently the Online Wine Buyer for Waitrose and, in 2018, she was awarded Drinks Business Wine Buyer of the Year.

The sisters delivered an inspirational talk to the girls:

‘We had a Lecture this week from two high-achieving sisters, who both had the same education but went on to completely different, but very successful careers. Both of them were not only inspiring but also witty and down-to-earth, bringing a realistic and casual approach to their affluent careers and lives. The sisters both had a rocky start to their working life, but became two very successful women, proving that you can achieve anything as long as you are determined.’ Hum (Year 13)

The talk finished with a wine-tasting session for a few Sixth Form girls, who learnt how to appreciate the colour and bouquet and distinguish between the different wine flavours.

JJ Caruth 
30th September 2019  

It is a regular occurrence that Old Girls return to talk about their careers, and impart wisdom on to the current members of St Mary’s, with the hope that we can learn from them. JJ Caruth was no exception. Though going down a slightly different career path than most, she gave an inspiring talk that appealed to everyone.

JJ spoke with wit and cleverness about perhaps one of the most secretive industries of all, the film industry. Ensuring her talk was relatable to all, she shared her top tips for marketing strategies, as well as telling anecdotes about actors and film sets along the way, and it was sad to hear that a certain 80s heartthrob is, in fact, a nightmare to work with! It was refreshing to hear from someone that didn't follow the typical university route, and how she made her dream come true by not only working hard, but by truly being a force to be reckoned with.

She shared her difficulties about moving to LA, somewhere she had never even visited before, and how, in those initial six months, she found a way to get a new visa, which ensured she could stay in the country, all the while trying to complete tertiary education, as well as working unthinkable hours, just to get put on the map. Well…it worked. Further into the presentation, we were shown some of the blockbuster films JJ has worked on, as well as hearing about others that didn't quite go to plan. She explained that, although not everything has gone perfectly with her career, what with a small marketing company breaking down due to a messy relationship, or certain actors that won’t get out of bed, she still pushed through, and came out of the other side with a story to tell.

Ultimately, her message was that, no matter what career you intend to go into, if you push and try, and treat people the way you wish to be treated, life will reward you. It was a very inspiring message for anyone looking to pursue their dream. 

Robin Heber – Percy
5th February 2019  

Robin Heber-PercyIt was such a pleasure to welcome Robin Heber–Percy back to school on Tuesday evening when she came down to talk to the Sixth form as part of the CGA lecture series.  It was her first visit since the day she left in 1987 and she couldn’t get over the difference that 32 years had made!
Her talk was fascinating.  Having read Zoology at Edinburgh, Robin began her career as a research assistant in Namibia and went on to spend eight years in Uganda studying the behaviour of Chimpanzees and Gorillas.  She is now involved with development projects relating to international eye health using mobile phone technology.

 

Clare Ward and Rachel Drummond-Hay
18th September 2018

CGA Talk Sept 2018The termly  CGA talk  for  girls in the  Sixth Form was  held  on Tuesday 18th September.  Our two speakers were both leavers from 1987 ,  neither of whom had set foot on St Mary’s soil since the day they left.   Having arrive in time for a tour of the school followed by a very animated supper with some of the girls, Clare Ward spoke first of her life after Calne and how she ended up in a very round-about way finding her dream job as a Specialist Speech and Language Therapist. Rachel Drummond-Hay  then talked about her job running Drummer TV, producing  fascinating programmes  and documentaries ,  and in both cases the audience sat in complete silence, captivated by every word they spoke.

Belinda Stewart-Wilson
30th January 2018

On Tuesday 30th January 2018 we were treated to an incredibly insightful and captivating talk given by Calne girl and actress, Belinda Stewart-Wilson. Belinda, who left here in 1985, had girls from the Fifth and Sixth Form completely engrossed by her tales of life on stage and in front of the camera as well stories of repeated rejection and unswerving resilience. With a career spanning 25 years and roles in a host of plays, films and TV series’ she is probably best known as 'Will’s fit mum' in The Inbetweeners. 

Caroline Brand
7th November 2017

We held our Autumn Term CGA talk on Tuesday November 7th, featuring 3 Calne girls all of whom work in different areas of Medicine.

Caroline Brand, (1989 leaver), is a part time GP in East Sussex where she also helps develop local services for end of life care. Martha Wyles, (1991 leaver), is a general paediatrician as well as being a RCPCH tutor with undergraduate medical students and trainee doctors. Charlotte Manisty, (1995 leaver), works at Barts Heart Centre where she is a consultant specialising in heart failure and heart imaging, alongside a senior lecturer post at UCL.

It was a truly inspirational evening - fascinating to the girls studying medicine, but equally interesting to the non-medics amongst us.

Veronica Bidwell
9th May 2017

 

Veronica BidwellOn Tuesday 9th May, we were delighted to welcome into school, 1965 leaver, Veronica Bidwell, to speak to the girls and several parents about her life after Calne and current profession as an a educational phycologist.  Having actually left school in 1963 after UV ,having gained a ”small handful” of O Levels, Veronica’s original life plan involved never having to sitting behind a desk again.  Prior to marriage and babies her summers were spent in the South of France and winters in Verbier, so it wasn’t until the end of her 30’s that she felt the pull towards further education.  Finally Aged 41 Veronica secured a degree in psychology from London University describing it as the proudest moment of her life. She has just returned to UCL to complete a research doctorate and last year saw the publication of her first book, The Parents Guide to Specific Learning Difficulties.

 

Clare McKeon
31st January 2017

Clare McKeon Our first CGA talk of 2017 was given by 1993 leaver, Clare McKeon, who spoke to the girls about her fascinating career at Christies Auction House, firstly working in London as a postgraduate, then in New York,  where she simultaneously attended classes at the New York School of Interior Design before setting up her own Interior Design Consultancy.  In 2015 Clare returned to London and is now working as a consultant to Christies UK Chairman’s office.  

Clare’s inspiring message was to encourage the girls to make the most of any opportunites that might come their way, and not to focus too exclusively on a career trajectory always heading skywards. She advised them to follow their hearts, not be afraid to takes risks and perhaps most difficult of all, to try to be ready for the curved balls that life so often throws! 

 

Lotty Lawrence
11th October 2016

Lotty-LawrenceWe were delighted to welcome back into school on Tuesday 11th October, Lotty Lawrence, who came to talk to girls in the Sixth form about setting up the first Women’s Lacrosse team in Colombia. 

Having left St Mary’s in 2006, where she had spent 5 years playing lacrosse for the school, she went onto continue her education firstly at Ampleforth for A Levels, and then at Manchester University where she studied History of Art. In 2012 she left England to live in Colombia, and it was through social media that she was able to recruit her team of lacrosse players, eventually making the selection for the national team for the 2015 World Championships in Scotland.

Lotty is currently an English teacher in in secondary school in South London where she is keen to promote lacrosse amongst other sports for women.

 

Kristina Hulsebus Blahnik
3rd May 2016

Kristina BlahnikOn Tuesday 3rd May, the Calne Girls' Association (CGA) were very pleased to welcome former Calne Girl Kristina Hulsebus Blahnik* (1992) to give a talk in school, attended and enjoyed by over 60 girls. Kristina Blahnik, CEO of Manola Blahnik, the internationally acclaimed and spectacular shoe designer, gave a hugely entertaining and insightful talk. She shared experiences of her time at St Mary’s Calne, then as an undergraduate at Cambridge, a post graduate at the Architectural Association and then as a leading business woman.

Kristina touched on many areas of her work from the early days as a newly-qualified architect and interior designer, to taking time out of work to refocus on what she truly wanted to do and finally to joining her family business and growing this international brand. Kristina showed wonderful photos from her childhood, images and drawings of beautiful shoes and concluded with her mantra and recommendation for life: DANCE like there is nobody’s watching, LOVE like you've never been hurt, SING like nobody’s listening, LIVE like it’s heaven on earth.

*London-based Kristina was born in 1974 in Cologne, Germany, to a half-Spanish, half-Czech mother and a German father. She moved to the UK in 1980 with her mother, Evangelina Blahnik, who became the Managing Director of her brother Manolo Blahnik’s growing shoe business. Kristina was educated in London and then at Calne between 1986 and 1992, where she decided to become an architect. She completed her undergraduate studies in architecture at Cambridge University in 1995, whilst still finding time to not only row for her College’s 1st VIII but also be awarded a Half Blue for representing Cambridge in ice hockey.

In 1999 she completed her diploma in architecture at the Architectural Association, London, and became a registered architect in 2006. She joined Manolo Blahnik in 2009 and worked in both professions until 2011. In 2013, she was appointed Joint Managing Director/CEO.

 

Rosemary Berry
 2nd January 2016

Rosemary BerryOn Tuesday 2nd February we were visited by a 1965 leaver, Rosemary Berry (née Vaughan), who kindly came back to talk to us about her involvement in setting up and now running an independent, fully registered charity called A Village in Syria, enabling Syrians to stay in Syria.   

Rosemary gave us a fascinating insight into the extraordinary challenges that have to be overcome in order to provide funding and provisions for this unidentified village in the middle of a war zone. Do please go to the link to learn more about this charity.

 

Sophie Walker
24th November 2015

Sophie WalkerOn Tuesday 24th November, we were extremely pleased to welcome back to school 2003 leaver, Sophie Walker, who spoke to the girls about her work designing thought-provoking, conceptual gardens.

After initially studying Art History and working in the Arts, Sophie went on holiday to the Bolivian Amazon, returning to England determined to qualify in horticulture. Last year, Sophie became the youngest woman to design a garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, for which she designed a conceptual garden, Cave Pavilion, using only rare plants, many of which were new to science. Her interest in rare and unusual plants has led her to travel to jungles and deserts all over the world. Sophie works with modern day plant-hunters and is working with the Bahamian National Trust in the Bahamas.

Sophie is interested in the more abstract challenges and possibilities of the garden, which led her to Japan. She is currently writing a book on the Japanese garden which contemplates the conceptual and challenging qualities of the genre. The book will be published by Phaidon in spring 2017.

Sophie was previously voted People's Choice Award at RHS Hampton Court Palace for her garden A Valley Garden in 2013.

 

Bex Crofton-Atkins
28 April 2015

Bex Crofton-AtkinsOn Tuesday April 28th, we were absolutely thrilled to welcome back into school Bex Crofton-Atkins, a leaver from 2004, who kindly came to talk to girls from LIV Form upwards about her fascinating career as a stylist and set designer for TV adverts, music videos and most recently, a feature film being directed by Pedro Almodóvar.

For the entire duration of her talk, you could have literally heard a pin drop in the Chapel, such was the concentration of the audience. Bex has styled shoots and videos all over the world and showcased a couple of examples.  Much to the excitement of some of the girls, her clients include the Arctic Monkeys and One Direction.

She was incredibly unstarry but totally inspirational, and in true St Mary’s style, her last words of advice to the girls was “Go for it “!

 


Carole Seymour-Jones
14 October 2014

Carole is a biographer and historian, and has written a number of books inclduing a biogroahy of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, A Dangerous Liaison, which has been translated into many European languages and was shortlisted for the Marsh biography prize. Painted Shadow, Carole's biography of Vivienne Eliot, the 'mad' first wife of T.S. Eliot, was longlisted for the Samuel Johnson prize.

Carole was formerly Deputy President of English PEN, the writers' charity, and Chair of the Writers in Prison Committee. She is a Visiting Fellow at the University of Surrey, and previously tutored creative non-fiction at City University and the Arvon Foundation.

 

 

Sophie Falinska & Kate Hannay
30 September 2014

Falinska HannaySophie left St Mary’s Calne in 1996 and went on to read Experimental Psychology at Brasenose College, Oxford. She then took part in a motorbike and side car expedition from London to Beijing, whilst deciding which career to pursue. Having first worked as an Assistant Psychologist in Oxford, she went on to train in Clinical Psychology at University College London. She has since worked as a Clinical Psychologist for the NHS, firstly in Early Intervention in Psychosis and now in general Adult Mental Health.

Kate HannayKate left Calne in 1995 and, having been incorrectly told that she needed to have done Maths A Level to study Psychology, she was delighted to spend four years in Scotland reading books whilst studying for an English Literature degree from Edinburgh University. She then discovered that it was possible to be a Psychologist without being a ‘maths whizz’, so did a Psychology Conversion course and got the equivalent of a Psychology degree. After a year off spent in Cape Town deliberating over whether to spend another three years studying, she returned to England to do a MSc in Counselling Psychology. She has spent the last six years working in Brixton as a psychologist, using CBT to help depressed and anxious people.  

 

 

Harriet Marlow
25 April 2014

Harriet MarlowHarriet left Calne in 1989, and after graduating from Manchester University in 1993 she went to work in the expedition world with Raleigh International, spending a year in South America, first as a venturer and then as an interpreter.  She then went on to work in operations and logistics on large scale events, working both abroad - for Camel Trophy / Land Rover in South America and for the GB Paralympic Team in Sydney 2000 - and also in this country.

For the past 10 years, during which time Harriet has had three children, she has concentrated on the sporting world and now works as a freelance operations consultant for IMG, Human Race, Go2 events and D3 Active. The larger scale events include the London Triathlon and Run to the Beat half marathon. Working freelance means she is able to dictate her work schedule around her family.

Sarah Webster
7 March 2014

Sarah WebsterSarah spoke about the difference in the labour market for women since she left school in 1983, and the opportunities for women with particular emphasis on technology in the work place.

Sarah left St Mary’s Calne in 1983 and went on to study Systems Analysis at Bristol Polytechnic (UWE).  Moving to London in 1990, Sarah worked in technology for the US Embassy, a Persian carpet importer and an Old Masters art dealer, before entering the City in 1993. She has worked for some of the world’s most well-known investment banks and trading houses, including Standard Chartered, Nomura, UBS and bgc/Cantor Fitzgerald.  She has since moved into technical support and has recently joined Markit as a director in the Collaboration Team. Sarah has been a school governor at an inner-city primary school and a literacy volunteer in the East End, and is currently a member of her local Parish Council.

 

Anna Seymour
15 November 2013

Anna SeymourAnna left St Mary’s Calne in 1988. After a gap year spent working in Asprey in London, and latterly at a boys’ school in Kashmir, she studied German with History at Exeter University.  In 1993 Anna was selected for the Harrods Management Training Programme, and from here went on to meet the founding scientists of PeproTech.  Anna was brought in to establish the European Operation and in 2003 she joined the board. She is the only employee who currently acts as a Global director.  She is also, most importantly, a wife and mother of three young children.

PeproTech specialises in the manufacture of Cytokine products for the life science and cell therapy markets,  helping to combat auto-immune diseases, such as cancers, AIDS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

 

Marina & Victoria Parker
21 October 2013

Marina ParkerMarina Parker left St Mary’s Calne in 1997 and graduated from Edinburgh in 2001 with MA Hons in English Literature. In 2011 she won a Best Documentary (Single) BAFTA for Between Life and Death and was nominated for Best Documentary series for Great Ormond Street in 2013.    

Victoria ParkerVictoria Parker left St Mary’s Calne in 2000. She graduated from Christchurch College Oxford with a degree in Geography and is now based in New York working for Harvey Weinstein (pictured right) as Senior Vice President of Theatrical Productions and Corporate Affairs.

 

Eva Rice
17 September 2013

Eva RiceEva Rice was educated at St Mary's Calne and went on to read Theology at the University of Bristol. She is the daughter of British lyricist and author Sir Tim Rice and was named after the lead character in Lord Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Sir Tim’s Evita: Eva Perón. As well as writing a number of books, Eva is also a singer, songwriter and guitarist who has performed and toured with several bands.

Eva’s literary career began in 1997 with the publication of Who’s Who in Enid Blyton, a catalogue of Blyton’s characters, which was written to coincide with the centenary of the author’s birth. This was followed by Eva’s first novel, Standing Room Only, in 2000, Butterfly Sting in 2002 and her third novel, The Lost Art Of Keeping Secrets, was featured as one of ten books chosen from over 500 submissions for Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan's 2006 Book Club.

The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp, Eva’s fourth published novel, was launched in January 2013 and follows budding singer and country girl Tara’s rise to stardom in 1960’s London.

 

Sara Maitland
26 April 2013

Sara MaitlandSara Maitland is the author of numerous works of fiction, including Daughters of Jerusalem, (which won the Somerset Maugham Award), and several non-fiction books about religion. Born in 1950, she studied at Oxford University after Calne, and currently teaches creative writing on-line for Lancaster University. Her most recent book, Gossip from the Forest, published in 2012, is about fairy stories and British woodlands.

She has two grown up children and lives alone on a high moor in South West Scotland. Sara’s sister, Frippy Fyfe, is Chair of the CGA and her family have been a part of St Mary’s Calne for generations.

 

Natasha Oppenheim
1 March 2013

Natasha OppenheimNatasha Oppenheim left Calne in 1995.  After readying Psychology and Philosophy at New College, Oxford, she has gone on to have a varied career,  across a variety of industries, including  media, film, finance, law, consulting and entrepreneurship.  Natasha has worked in many different countries aside from the UK, from Croatia to Las Vegas in the USA.  

In 2011 Natasha founded Green Street Ventures to help originate high growth companies and now works with a portfolio of 6 companies as investor, founder and director.  She focuses on disruptive online companies in technology and media space.  Natasha is also a mentor with The Princes Trust, helping to advise early stage companies.    

 

Rosie Hayes
16 November 2012

Rosie HayesRosie Hayes (née Monro) left St Mary’s Calne in 1997 and went directly to Edinburgh University to read History of Art where she gained an MA Hons. She then went to London, working first for Philips Auction House, then Christies, where she ended up spending seven years, specialising in English Furniture circa 1700-1840.

Having more recently spent time in Dubai working in a contemporary art gallery, closely followed by the birth of twin boys, she now works as an independent advisor, sourcing fine furniture for individuals, corporate collections and interior design projects.

 

Victoria Wheal
16 November 2012

Victoria WhealVictoria Wheal also left St Mary’s Calne in 1997 and spent her first year after school on a Raleigh International expedition to Belize and travelling around Central America. After reading Geography at Cambridge University, followed by stints as an assistant to a literary agent, Victoria moved into politics where she worked as an assistant to an MP, doing research, speech writing and running his office. After the 2005 General Election, Victoria joined a PR company, advising clients such as Orange on their social and environmental strategies. Victoria then decided to boost her career opportunities by going to business school in Madrid where she studied for a one year MBA.

Now working for the John Lewis Partnership, she works in the Public Affairs department as a lobbyist, managing the company’s relationship with Government.

 

Sabina Fortescue
27 April 2012

Sabina FortescueSabina Fortescue left St Mary’s Calne in 1992 with 3 A Levels (English, History and RE) and went straight to Manchester University to read English and American Literature.  She left Manchester with a 2:1 in 1995, and had vague ideas about ‘doing something in the media’.  After stints of work experience and temping in advertising and public relations, she felt disillusioned, so decided to go to law school and become a media lawyer. 

Sabina went to Guildford College of Law for a one year conversion course and one year legal practice course between 1997 and 1999. During law school, Sabina secured a training contract with Goodman Derrick, a media firm in London.  After two years of training, Sabina qualified as a solicitor in 2002 and was offered a job, still with Goodman Derrick, in their private client department.  In general, private client work involves tax and trust advice for individuals or families (but not companies).

After eighteen months Sabina left Goodman Derrick and took a job in the private client department at Taylor Wessing, a much bigger firm in London. During seven years at Taylor Wessing Sabina advised all kinds of private clients, from the owners of English landed estates to foreign hedge fund managers coming to live and work in the UK.

In 2010, Sabina made the move out of London and to the Cotswolds. She worked as an associate solicitor at a firm in Cheltenham, called Rickerbys, where she advised UK private clients and private clients with international interests.

 

Jenna Burlingham
2 March 2012

Jenna BurlinghamJenna left St Mary’s in 1989 with 3 A Levels (History, History of Art and English) and no idea of what she wanted to do.  After a Gap Year spent working in London and travelling in the Far East, she went to Bristol University to read History with History of Art.  On graduating, she helped with Art History Abroad for one season (teaching in Rome and Florence) and then started working as an intern at Sotheby's in the Press Office.  Within the year, she had a permanent job, this time at Phillips Auctioneers as a Junior Cataloguer in the Modern British Art Department. 

Jenna remained at Phillips (who eventually merged with Bonhams) for eight years and ended up as a Senior Specialist in the same department.  The next obvious move was to a Modern British Gallery, followed by work as a director for the well-known dealership, Offer Waterman and Co in Chelsea.  Having worked with a huge variety and quantity of paintings in the auction world, she became involved in the high end of the market - the Frank Auerbachs, Henry Moores and Barbara Hepworths which sold for many hundreds of thousands of pounds. 

Despite having two young children and moving out of London to Hampshire, she continued to work in London, albeit on a more part-time basis.  Then in 2010, on discovering that a local bookshop near to her home and within an hour of London was up for sale, she said goodbye to the commute and, together with her husband, bought the building, converted it and launched 'Jenna Burlingham Fine Art'.

 

Tania Cameron
2 March 2012

Tania CameronTania left Calne in 1982 with 12 O Levels and 4 A Levels, and went on to read General Arts at Edinburgh University. She then worked in a TV Design and Commercials Company, starting as a Receptionist, then Production Assistant and finally as a Producer. Tania went on to become a Freelance TV Commercials Producer, working for numerous independent production companies, including Rogue Films, Love and Blink.

Her clients have included Procter & Gamble, Citroën, The Post Office, Orange, Birdseye, COI, McDonalds, Clover, Budweiser, Colgate, Lea & Perrins, Kelloggs, Frontline, Wrigleys, Andersen Consulting, Sure and Disney. She stopped working about five years ago, having relocated to the country, to look after her two boys.

 

Joanna & Kate Weinberg
2 December 2011

Old Girls of St Mary’s Calne, Jo and Kate Weinberg have spent their years since university steeped in the world of publishing, journalism and media.

With CVs that encompass learning creative writing with the Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion, to work experience at Vogue, their love of the written word has taken them well beyond the news desks at Wapping, into the glamorous movie world of Los Angeles,  via love affairs in Rome whilst writing fiction,  ghost writing, thrillers and a series of cookery books.

 

 

     

      

Laura Doel 
28th January 2020  

On January 28th we were treated to a particularly inspiring CGA Talk from 2013 Leaver, Laura Doel.

Laura was at St Mary’s for Sixth Form before going to read Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics (LSE) and then landing, what can only be described as, a job in a million. For the past 3½ years Laura has lived in and travelled between London and Manchester, working for City Football Group. Having started as an Operations Development Analyst, Laura is now responsible for supporting special fan growth projects, which in 2019 included managing the Manchester City Global Tour. This involved taking the six trophies (plus their two security guards) and several ex-footballers on an 11-week trip, covering 130,000 miles, meeting and greeting fans all over the world. Laura talked about a succession of incredible moments during the trip and didn't bat an eyelid when referring to sporting heroes.

We are very grateful to Laura for giving us her time and talking to the girls about her fascinating career.

Sophie Hoskins and Xenia Irwin 
8th October 2019  

On 8th October, we were fortunate to welcome sisters, Sophie Hoskins and Xenia Irwin, for a Calne Girls’ Talk, given to the Sixth Formers. Sophie left St Mary’s in 1983 and is now Chief Executive of two Councils in Devon, providing much-needed public services. She completed a Master’s degree while working full time and is also Chair of Trustees for the Cornwall Food Foundation. Xenia left St Mary’s Calne in 1986 and went to Exeter University, taking a vocational degree in Psychology, before she joined the wine trade and went on to qualify as a Master of Wine. Xenia is currently the Online Wine Buyer for Waitrose and, in 2018, she was awarded Drinks Business Wine Buyer of the Year.

The sisters delivered an inspirational talk to the girls:

‘We had a Lecture this week from two high-achieving sisters, who both had the same education but went on to completely different, but very successful careers. Both of them were not only inspiring but also witty and down-to-earth, bringing a realistic and casual approach to their affluent careers and lives. The sisters both had a rocky start to their working life, but became two very successful women, proving that you can achieve anything as long as you are determined.’ Hum (Year 13)

The talk finished with a wine-tasting session for a few Sixth Form girls, who learnt how to appreciate the colour and bouquet and distinguish between the different wine flavours.

JJ Caruth 
30th September 2019  

It is a regular occurrence that Old Girls return to talk about their careers, and impart wisdom on to the current members of St Mary’s, with the hope that we can learn from them. JJ Caruth was no exception. Though going down a slightly different career path than most, she gave an inspiring talk that appealed to everyone.

JJ spoke with wit and cleverness about perhaps one of the most secretive industries of all, the film industry. Ensuring her talk was relatable to all, she shared her top tips for marketing strategies, as well as telling anecdotes about actors and film sets along the way, and it was sad to hear that a certain 80s heartthrob is, in fact, a nightmare to work with! It was refreshing to hear from someone that didn't follow the typical university route, and how she made her dream come true by not only working hard, but by truly being a force to be reckoned with.

She shared her difficulties about moving to LA, somewhere she had never even visited before, and how, in those initial six months, she found a way to get a new visa, which ensured she could stay in the country, all the while trying to complete tertiary education, as well as working unthinkable hours, just to get put on the map. Well…it worked. Further into the presentation, we were shown some of the blockbuster films JJ has worked on, as well as hearing about others that didn't quite go to plan. She explained that, although not everything has gone perfectly with her career, what with a small marketing company breaking down due to a messy relationship, or certain actors that won’t get out of bed, she still pushed through, and came out of the other side with a story to tell.

Ultimately, her message was that, no matter what career you intend to go into, if you push and try, and treat people the way you wish to be treated, life will reward you. It was a very inspiring message for anyone looking to pursue their dream. 

Robin Heber – Percy
5th February 2019  

Robin Heber-PercyIt was such a pleasure to welcome Robin Heber–Percy back to school on Tuesday evening when she came down to talk to the Sixth form as part of the CGA lecture series.  It was her first visit since the day she left in 1987 and she couldn’t get over the difference that 32 years had made!
Her talk was fascinating.  Having read Zoology at Edinburgh, Robin began her career as a research assistant in Namibia and went on to spend eight years in Uganda studying the behaviour of Chimpanzees and Gorillas.  She is now involved with development projects relating to international eye health using mobile phone technology.

 

Clare Ward and Rachel Drummond-Hay
18th September 2018

CGA Talk Sept 2018The termly  CGA talk  for  girls in the  Sixth Form was  held  on Tuesday 18th September.  Our two speakers were both leavers from 1987 ,  neither of whom had set foot on St Mary’s soil since the day they left.   Having arrive in time for a tour of the school followed by a very animated supper with some of the girls, Clare Ward spoke first of her life after Calne and how she ended up in a very round-about way finding her dream job as a Specialist Speech and Language Therapist. Rachel Drummond-Hay  then talked about her job running Drummer TV, producing  fascinating programmes  and documentaries ,  and in both cases the audience sat in complete silence, captivated by every word they spoke.

Belinda Stewart-Wilson
30th January 2018

On Tuesday 30th January 2018 we were treated to an incredibly insightful and captivating talk given by Calne girl and actress, Belinda Stewart-Wilson. Belinda, who left here in 1985, had girls from the Fifth and Sixth Form completely engrossed by her tales of life on stage and in front of the camera as well stories of repeated rejection and unswerving resilience. With a career spanning 25 years and roles in a host of plays, films and TV series’ she is probably best known as 'Will’s fit mum' in The Inbetweeners. 

Caroline Brand
7th November 2017

We held our Autumn Term CGA talk on Tuesday November 7th, featuring 3 Calne girls all of whom work in different areas of Medicine.

Caroline Brand, (1989 leaver), is a part time GP in East Sussex where she also helps develop local services for end of life care. Martha Wyles, (1991 leaver), is a general paediatrician as well as being a RCPCH tutor with undergraduate medical students and trainee doctors. Charlotte Manisty, (1995 leaver), works at Barts Heart Centre where she is a consultant specialising in heart failure and heart imaging, alongside a senior lecturer post at UCL.

It was a truly inspirational evening - fascinating to the girls studying medicine, but equally interesting to the non-medics amongst us.

Veronica Bidwell
9th May 2017

 

Veronica BidwellOn Tuesday 9th May, we were delighted to welcome into school, 1965 leaver, Veronica Bidwell, to speak to the girls and several parents about her life after Calne and current profession as an a educational phycologist.  Having actually left school in 1963 after UV ,having gained a ”small handful” of O Levels, Veronica’s original life plan involved never having to sitting behind a desk again.  Prior to marriage and babies her summers were spent in the South of France and winters in Verbier, so it wasn’t until the end of her 30’s that she felt the pull towards further education.  Finally Aged 41 Veronica secured a degree in psychology from London University describing it as the proudest moment of her life. She has just returned to UCL to complete a research doctorate and last year saw the publication of her first book, The Parents Guide to Specific Learning Difficulties.

 

Clare McKeon
31st January 2017

Clare McKeon Our first CGA talk of 2017 was given by 1993 leaver, Clare McKeon, who spoke to the girls about her fascinating career at Christies Auction House, firstly working in London as a postgraduate, then in New York,  where she simultaneously attended classes at the New York School of Interior Design before setting up her own Interior Design Consultancy.  In 2015 Clare returned to London and is now working as a consultant to Christies UK Chairman’s office.  

Clare’s inspiring message was to encourage the girls to make the most of any opportunites that might come their way, and not to focus too exclusively on a career trajectory always heading skywards. She advised them to follow their hearts, not be afraid to takes risks and perhaps most difficult of all, to try to be ready for the curved balls that life so often throws! 

 

Lotty Lawrence
11th October 2016

Lotty-LawrenceWe were delighted to welcome back into school on Tuesday 11th October, Lotty Lawrence, who came to talk to girls in the Sixth form about setting up the first Women’s Lacrosse team in Colombia. 

Having left St Mary’s in 2006, where she had spent 5 years playing lacrosse for the school, she went onto continue her education firstly at Ampleforth for A Levels, and then at Manchester University where she studied History of Art. In 2012 she left England to live in Colombia, and it was through social media that she was able to recruit her team of lacrosse players, eventually making the selection for the national team for the 2015 World Championships in Scotland.

Lotty is currently an English teacher in in secondary school in South London where she is keen to promote lacrosse amongst other sports for women.

 

Kristina Hulsebus Blahnik
3rd May 2016

Kristina BlahnikOn Tuesday 3rd May, the Calne Girls' Association (CGA) were very pleased to welcome former Calne Girl Kristina Hulsebus Blahnik* (1992) to give a talk in school, attended and enjoyed by over 60 girls. Kristina Blahnik, CEO of Manola Blahnik, the internationally acclaimed and spectacular shoe designer, gave a hugely entertaining and insightful talk. She shared experiences of her time at St Mary’s Calne, then as an undergraduate at Cambridge, a post graduate at the Architectural Association and then as a leading business woman.

Kristina touched on many areas of her work from the early days as a newly-qualified architect and interior designer, to taking time out of work to refocus on what she truly wanted to do and finally to joining her family business and growing this international brand. Kristina showed wonderful photos from her childhood, images and drawings of beautiful shoes and concluded with her mantra and recommendation for life: DANCE like there is nobody’s watching, LOVE like you've never been hurt, SING like nobody’s listening, LIVE like it’s heaven on earth.

*London-based Kristina was born in 1974 in Cologne, Germany, to a half-Spanish, half-Czech mother and a German father. She moved to the UK in 1980 with her mother, Evangelina Blahnik, who became the Managing Director of her brother Manolo Blahnik’s growing shoe business. Kristina was educated in London and then at Calne between 1986 and 1992, where she decided to become an architect. She completed her undergraduate studies in architecture at Cambridge University in 1995, whilst still finding time to not only row for her College’s 1st VIII but also be awarded a Half Blue for representing Cambridge in ice hockey.

In 1999 she completed her diploma in architecture at the Architectural Association, London, and became a registered architect in 2006. She joined Manolo Blahnik in 2009 and worked in both professions until 2011. In 2013, she was appointed Joint Managing Director/CEO.

 

Rosemary Berry
 2nd January 2016

Rosemary BerryOn Tuesday 2nd February we were visited by a 1965 leaver, Rosemary Berry (née Vaughan), who kindly came back to talk to us about her involvement in setting up and now running an independent, fully registered charity called A Village in Syria, enabling Syrians to stay in Syria.   

Rosemary gave us a fascinating insight into the extraordinary challenges that have to be overcome in order to provide funding and provisions for this unidentified village in the middle of a war zone. Do please go to the link to learn more about this charity.

 

Sophie Walker
24th November 2015

Sophie WalkerOn Tuesday 24th November, we were extremely pleased to welcome back to school 2003 leaver, Sophie Walker, who spoke to the girls about her work designing thought-provoking, conceptual gardens.

After initially studying Art History and working in the Arts, Sophie went on holiday to the Bolivian Amazon, returning to England determined to qualify in horticulture. Last year, Sophie became the youngest woman to design a garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, for which she designed a conceptual garden, Cave Pavilion, using only rare plants, many of which were new to science. Her interest in rare and unusual plants has led her to travel to jungles and deserts all over the world. Sophie works with modern day plant-hunters and is working with the Bahamian National Trust in the Bahamas.

Sophie is interested in the more abstract challenges and possibilities of the garden, which led her to Japan. She is currently writing a book on the Japanese garden which contemplates the conceptual and challenging qualities of the genre. The book will be published by Phaidon in spring 2017.

Sophie was previously voted People's Choice Award at RHS Hampton Court Palace for her garden A Valley Garden in 2013.

 

Bex Crofton-Atkins
28 April 2015

Bex Crofton-AtkinsOn Tuesday April 28th, we were absolutely thrilled to welcome back into school Bex Crofton-Atkins, a leaver from 2004, who kindly came to talk to girls from LIV Form upwards about her fascinating career as a stylist and set designer for TV adverts, music videos and most recently, a feature film being directed by Pedro Almodóvar.

For the entire duration of her talk, you could have literally heard a pin drop in the Chapel, such was the concentration of the audience. Bex has styled shoots and videos all over the world and showcased a couple of examples.  Much to the excitement of some of the girls, her clients include the Arctic Monkeys and One Direction.

She was incredibly unstarry but totally inspirational, and in true St Mary’s style, her last words of advice to the girls was “Go for it “!

 


Carole Seymour-Jones
14 October 2014

Carole is a biographer and historian, and has written a number of books inclduing a biogroahy of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre, A Dangerous Liaison, which has been translated into many European languages and was shortlisted for the Marsh biography prize. Painted Shadow, Carole's biography of Vivienne Eliot, the 'mad' first wife of T.S. Eliot, was longlisted for the Samuel Johnson prize.

Carole was formerly Deputy President of English PEN, the writers' charity, and Chair of the Writers in Prison Committee. She is a Visiting Fellow at the University of Surrey, and previously tutored creative non-fiction at City University and the Arvon Foundation.

 

 

Sophie Falinska & Kate Hannay
30 September 2014

Falinska HannaySophie left St Mary’s Calne in 1996 and went on to read Experimental Psychology at Brasenose College, Oxford. She then took part in a motorbike and side car expedition from London to Beijing, whilst deciding which career to pursue. Having first worked as an Assistant Psychologist in Oxford, she went on to train in Clinical Psychology at University College London. She has since worked as a Clinical Psychologist for the NHS, firstly in Early Intervention in Psychosis and now in general Adult Mental Health.

Kate HannayKate left Calne in 1995 and, having been incorrectly told that she needed to have done Maths A Level to study Psychology, she was delighted to spend four years in Scotland reading books whilst studying for an English Literature degree from Edinburgh University. She then discovered that it was possible to be a Psychologist without being a ‘maths whizz’, so did a Psychology Conversion course and got the equivalent of a Psychology degree. After a year off spent in Cape Town deliberating over whether to spend another three years studying, she returned to England to do a MSc in Counselling Psychology. She has spent the last six years working in Brixton as a psychologist, using CBT to help depressed and anxious people.  

 

 

Harriet Marlow
25 April 2014

Harriet MarlowHarriet left Calne in 1989, and after graduating from Manchester University in 1993 she went to work in the expedition world with Raleigh International, spending a year in South America, first as a venturer and then as an interpreter.  She then went on to work in operations and logistics on large scale events, working both abroad - for Camel Trophy / Land Rover in South America and for the GB Paralympic Team in Sydney 2000 - and also in this country.

For the past 10 years, during which time Harriet has had three children, she has concentrated on the sporting world and now works as a freelance operations consultant for IMG, Human Race, Go2 events and D3 Active. The larger scale events include the London Triathlon and Run to the Beat half marathon. Working freelance means she is able to dictate her work schedule around her family.

Sarah Webster
7 March 2014

Sarah WebsterSarah spoke about the difference in the labour market for women since she left school in 1983, and the opportunities for women with particular emphasis on technology in the work place.

Sarah left St Mary’s Calne in 1983 and went on to study Systems Analysis at Bristol Polytechnic (UWE).  Moving to London in 1990, Sarah worked in technology for the US Embassy, a Persian carpet importer and an Old Masters art dealer, before entering the City in 1993. She has worked for some of the world’s most well-known investment banks and trading houses, including Standard Chartered, Nomura, UBS and bgc/Cantor Fitzgerald.  She has since moved into technical support and has recently joined Markit as a director in the Collaboration Team. Sarah has been a school governor at an inner-city primary school and a literacy volunteer in the East End, and is currently a member of her local Parish Council.

 

Anna Seymour
15 November 2013

Anna SeymourAnna left St Mary’s Calne in 1988. After a gap year spent working in Asprey in London, and latterly at a boys’ school in Kashmir, she studied German with History at Exeter University.  In 1993 Anna was selected for the Harrods Management Training Programme, and from here went on to meet the founding scientists of PeproTech.  Anna was brought in to establish the European Operation and in 2003 she joined the board. She is the only employee who currently acts as a Global director.  She is also, most importantly, a wife and mother of three young children.

PeproTech specialises in the manufacture of Cytokine products for the life science and cell therapy markets,  helping to combat auto-immune diseases, such as cancers, AIDS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

 

Marina & Victoria Parker
21 October 2013

Marina ParkerMarina Parker left St Mary’s Calne in 1997 and graduated from Edinburgh in 2001 with MA Hons in English Literature. In 2011 she won a Best Documentary (Single) BAFTA for Between Life and Death and was nominated for Best Documentary series for Great Ormond Street in 2013.    

Victoria ParkerVictoria Parker left St Mary’s Calne in 2000. She graduated from Christchurch College Oxford with a degree in Geography and is now based in New York working for Harvey Weinstein (pictured right) as Senior Vice President of Theatrical Productions and Corporate Affairs.

 

Eva Rice
17 September 2013

Eva RiceEva Rice was educated at St Mary's Calne and went on to read Theology at the University of Bristol. She is the daughter of British lyricist and author Sir Tim Rice and was named after the lead character in Lord Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Sir Tim’s Evita: Eva Perón. As well as writing a number of books, Eva is also a singer, songwriter and guitarist who has performed and toured with several bands.

Eva’s literary career began in 1997 with the publication of Who’s Who in Enid Blyton, a catalogue of Blyton’s characters, which was written to coincide with the centenary of the author’s birth. This was followed by Eva’s first novel, Standing Room Only, in 2000, Butterfly Sting in 2002 and her third novel, The Lost Art Of Keeping Secrets, was featured as one of ten books chosen from over 500 submissions for Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan's 2006 Book Club.

The Misinterpretation of Tara Jupp, Eva’s fourth published novel, was launched in January 2013 and follows budding singer and country girl Tara’s rise to stardom in 1960’s London.

 

Sara Maitland
26 April 2013

Sara MaitlandSara Maitland is the author of numerous works of fiction, including Daughters of Jerusalem, (which won the Somerset Maugham Award), and several non-fiction books about religion. Born in 1950, she studied at Oxford University after Calne, and currently teaches creative writing on-line for Lancaster University. Her most recent book, Gossip from the Forest, published in 2012, is about fairy stories and British woodlands.

She has two grown up children and lives alone on a high moor in South West Scotland. Sara’s sister, Frippy Fyfe, is Chair of the CGA and her family have been a part of St Mary’s Calne for generations.

 

Natasha Oppenheim
1 March 2013

Natasha OppenheimNatasha Oppenheim left Calne in 1995.  After readying Psychology and Philosophy at New College, Oxford, she has gone on to have a varied career,  across a variety of industries, including  media, film, finance, law, consulting and entrepreneurship.  Natasha has worked in many different countries aside from the UK, from Croatia to Las Vegas in the USA.  

In 2011 Natasha founded Green Street Ventures to help originate high growth companies and now works with a portfolio of 6 companies as investor, founder and director.  She focuses on disruptive online companies in technology and media space.  Natasha is also a mentor with The Princes Trust, helping to advise early stage companies.    

 

Rosie Hayes
16 November 2012

Rosie HayesRosie Hayes (née Monro) left St Mary’s Calne in 1997 and went directly to Edinburgh University to read History of Art where she gained an MA Hons. She then went to London, working first for Philips Auction House, then Christies, where she ended up spending seven years, specialising in English Furniture circa 1700-1840.

Having more recently spent time in Dubai working in a contemporary art gallery, closely followed by the birth of twin boys, she now works as an independent advisor, sourcing fine furniture for individuals, corporate collections and interior design projects.

 

Victoria Wheal
16 November 2012

Victoria WhealVictoria Wheal also left St Mary’s Calne in 1997 and spent her first year after school on a Raleigh International expedition to Belize and travelling around Central America. After reading Geography at Cambridge University, followed by stints as an assistant to a literary agent, Victoria moved into politics where she worked as an assistant to an MP, doing research, speech writing and running his office. After the 2005 General Election, Victoria joined a PR company, advising clients such as Orange on their social and environmental strategies. Victoria then decided to boost her career opportunities by going to business school in Madrid where she studied for a one year MBA.

Now working for the John Lewis Partnership, she works in the Public Affairs department as a lobbyist, managing the company’s relationship with Government.

 

Sabina Fortescue
27 April 2012

Sabina FortescueSabina Fortescue left St Mary’s Calne in 1992 with 3 A Levels (English, History and RE) and went straight to Manchester University to read English and American Literature.  She left Manchester with a 2:1 in 1995, and had vague ideas about ‘doing something in the media’.  After stints of work experience and temping in advertising and public relations, she felt disillusioned, so decided to go to law school and become a media lawyer. 

Sabina went to Guildford College of Law for a one year conversion course and one year legal practice course between 1997 and 1999. During law school, Sabina secured a training contract with Goodman Derrick, a media firm in London.  After two years of training, Sabina qualified as a solicitor in 2002 and was offered a job, still with Goodman Derrick, in their private client department.  In general, private client work involves tax and trust advice for individuals or families (but not companies).

After eighteen months Sabina left Goodman Derrick and took a job in the private client department at Taylor Wessing, a much bigger firm in London. During seven years at Taylor Wessing Sabina advised all kinds of private clients, from the owners of English landed estates to foreign hedge fund managers coming to live and work in the UK.

In 2010, Sabina made the move out of London and to the Cotswolds. She worked as an associate solicitor at a firm in Cheltenham, called Rickerbys, where she advised UK private clients and private clients with international interests.

 

Jenna Burlingham
2 March 2012

Jenna BurlinghamJenna left St Mary’s in 1989 with 3 A Levels (History, History of Art and English) and no idea of what she wanted to do.  After a Gap Year spent working in London and travelling in the Far East, she went to Bristol University to read History with History of Art.  On graduating, she helped with Art History Abroad for one season (teaching in Rome and Florence) and then started working as an intern at Sotheby's in the Press Office.  Within the year, she had a permanent job, this time at Phillips Auctioneers as a Junior Cataloguer in the Modern British Art Department. 

Jenna remained at Phillips (who eventually merged with Bonhams) for eight years and ended up as a Senior Specialist in the same department.  The next obvious move was to a Modern British Gallery, followed by work as a director for the well-known dealership, Offer Waterman and Co in Chelsea.  Having worked with a huge variety and quantity of paintings in the auction world, she became involved in the high end of the market - the Frank Auerbachs, Henry Moores and Barbara Hepworths which sold for many hundreds of thousands of pounds. 

Despite having two young children and moving out of London to Hampshire, she continued to work in London, albeit on a more part-time basis.  Then in 2010, on discovering that a local bookshop near to her home and within an hour of London was up for sale, she said goodbye to the commute and, together with her husband, bought the building, converted it and launched 'Jenna Burlingham Fine Art'.

 

Tania Cameron
2 March 2012

Tania CameronTania left Calne in 1982 with 12 O Levels and 4 A Levels, and went on to read General Arts at Edinburgh University. She then worked in a TV Design and Commercials Company, starting as a Receptionist, then Production Assistant and finally as a Producer. Tania went on to become a Freelance TV Commercials Producer, working for numerous independent production companies, including Rogue Films, Love and Blink.

Her clients have included Procter & Gamble, Citroën, The Post Office, Orange, Birdseye, COI, McDonalds, Clover, Budweiser, Colgate, Lea & Perrins, Kelloggs, Frontline, Wrigleys, Andersen Consulting, Sure and Disney. She stopped working about five years ago, having relocated to the country, to look after her two boys.

 

Joanna & Kate Weinberg
2 December 2011

Old Girls of St Mary’s Calne, Jo and Kate Weinberg have spent their years since university steeped in the world of publishing, journalism and media.

With CVs that encompass learning creative writing with the Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion, to work experience at Vogue, their love of the written word has taken them well beyond the news desks at Wapping, into the glamorous movie world of Los Angeles,  via love affairs in Rome whilst writing fiction,  ghost writing, thrillers and a series of cookery books.

 

 

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