1. Where else in the world have you lived?
I was born in the UK and spent my childhood and most of my working life there. During my gap year, I worked in France, which helped me make rapid progress with my French, and as a student I spent four summers working in the United States at summer camps. I have travelled widely already and, now that I am in Singapore, hope to travel to Fiji, where both my parents went to school.
2. Tell us about your family.
I have a twin brother called Mark, who is the founding partner of a corporate tax advice practice based in the City of London. My parents and in-laws live in Hampshire in the South Downs National Park in England. I have many relatives in Australia as my grandmother’s sister stopped there for six months on her return from Fiji to the UK and loved it so much she stayed. My father was born in one of the remotest locations on earth, the Kiribati Islands, and was evacuated to Fiji in the War. His father only survived because he was on a fishing trip when the islands were invaded.
3. What’s your favourite weekend activity in Singapore?
I love playing tennis and have also bought a bicycle to explore the island. I love exploring interesting neighbourhoods and wildlife areas. On one of my first free weekends, I went to the Bukit Timah nature reserve hoping to spot monkeys and other wildlife not found in the UK. I had no success, only to stumble across a whole troop playing by the cycle path on the way home!
4. Did you always want to be a teacher?
When I was young, I never imagined for a moment I would be a teacher and started my career working for British Airways on their graduate programme. However, I think deep down it was what I always wanted to do but it just took me a while to realise!
5. What is your favourite book and who is your favourite author?
I am the sort of person who can’t put some books down but I find it hard to get into others. My Aunt gave me a book called Soul Survivor, which I found fascinating, and I have also enjoyed many a page-turner, such as The Girl on The Train. I enjoy some scientific books, such as Richard Dawkins’ The Blind Watchmaker. One of the children’s books I have most enjoyed teaching is Goodnight Mister Tom as I feel this is a masterpiece of conveying emotion and so much better than the film. My mother and I went to her local secondhand bookshop, since made famous on Twitter through a viral post about a day without a single customer, and discovered Michele Magorian lives locally and is one of their customers. I would love to meet her.
6. Tell us about a hidden talent or a top secret that no-one would know about you.
I often joke to students about the secret talents we learn at teacher training, such as mind-reading, hypnotising and resisting puppy eyes! At one of my previous schools, I managed to pull off an illusion in a staff Christmas show that took sufficient planning, secrecy and execution that I don’t think I’ll ever manage it again.
7. Which five people would you invite to a dinner party, dead or alive?
I would choose Greta Thunberg, Stephen Fry, Sir David Attenborough, Andy Murray and HM Queen Elizabeth II. That would be quite a guest list to pull off!
8. What does a typical day at the College look like for you?
The joy of teaching is that there is no typical day and you are constantly discovering and learning with your students. There are certain things without which no day would be complete, such as being there to say hello to students in the morning and enjoying school lunch in the Performing Arts Centre Dining Hall. I love assemblies, gatherings, events and special occasions and can’t wait for these to be able to return in person, with singing top of my list! There are also a few secret parts of Junior School life that students never see, such as what happens before any children arrive and what on earth teachers talk about in meetings. My lips are sealed!
9. Do you have a motto or saying that really resonates with you?
Dare to be different! So often we imagine things cannot be done or achieved because we’re constrained by our experience and unconscious bias, which can limit what we feel is possible. Never before has humanity needed to change more in order to sustain this planet and all of us need to be daring in the solutions we imagine and enact.
10. Do you have a most memorable teacher moment?
One of my most memorable moments was having Ronnie Corbett, the British comedian, as our guest speaker at the Bede’s School prizegiving and spending the morning with him. Another that springs to mind is getting hopelessly lost in the English countryside with a school tennis team in the days before sat navs and mobile phones and how much the children enjoyed the experience. One of my own teachers I remember most was a former World War II pilot called D. Ive (referred to by all as Bomber) whose outbursts in class we used to love. I now realise it was all a show and he made clause analysis far more fun that it would otherwise ever have been.
11. What would you like your legacy to be?
More than anything, I would like my legacy to be in the difference I’ve made to others and what the thousands of students I have taught go on to achieve. I am now at an age where my eldest former students are in their late 30s and I love meeting them as adults and sharing their accomplishments and experiences.