Beyond Merchants News

A Level Results 2017

This year’s outstanding A Level results once again reinforce Merchant Taylors’ Schools’ position at the top of the local league tables.  With a pass rate of 100% at the Girls’ School and 99.9% at the Boys’ School, over two thirds of all exams were achieved at the highest grades. Many students have gained their first choice University course to study a diverse range of subjects from Medicine, Law and Physics to Engineering, Mathematics and Classics.   All three Oxbridge offer students have had their places confirmed. Jessy Li and Leon Reason are both going to Cambridge; Jessy to study Engineering and Leon to study History. Shenghao Zhou is going to Oxford to read Mathematics.

Merchant Taylors’ is committed to providing scholarships and two students, Andrew Park and Samantha Jones, have benefited this year from fully assisted places, co-funded by the School and the Ogden Trust.  Andrew, who plays basketball for Wales, has achieved all A*/A grades and will study Medicine at Newcastle.  Samantha has opted for a different path and will be taking up her award of a three year Aerospace Engineering Apprenticeship with BAE Systems.

Today’s results are particularly notable as they are the first of the new linear A Level system introduced by the Government in 2015, designed to make exams more challenging.  With this added pressure, Merchants’ recognise the importance of strong pastoral support, an area in which it was rated as ‘Outstanding’ in the recent Independent Schools’ Inspectorate Inspections.

All this success comes in a year of numerous extra-curricular achievements in sport, music and drama.  The schools also reached two national finals with the Girls’ athletics team and the Boys’ cricket team.

Headmistress of the Girls’ School, Mrs Louise Robinson, praised the girls for their achievements, she said ‘I am delighted that the hard work and perseverance, supported by the excellent specialist academic staff, have been rewarded by fantastic results.’ Mr Deiniol Williams, in his role as Headmaster of the Boys’ School said ‘I am very proud of what our boys have achieved over the last two years – they deserve every success. Today’s results are just reward for the efforts which have been applied by students to their academic studies. Of course, none of this could have been achieved without the dedication of our subject-specialist teachers and the support of our parents.’


Leon Reason
Andrew Park
Jess Offlands and Sophie Orr are both scholarship girls on full assistance. Jess is going to St Andrews to study Medicine and Sophie to Royal Holloway to study History.


A full album of photographs is available here on our Facebook page

Former MTGS Pupil receives Damehood

The Schools were delighted to receive news that former MTGS pupil, Professor Caroline Watkins, was to receive the DBE in the New Years Honours list for her services to stroke care nursing. Caroline is the only Nursing and Stroke Care Professor in the UK, and has received recognition throughout the field for her dedication and commitment to improving stroke care for patients.

A nurse for nearly 40 years, Caroline has held a position as Professor at UCLan for the last 15 years. In that time she has spearheaded numerous initiatives to improve stroke care, which has seen her research incorporated into the National Clinical Guideline for Stroke, the Joint Royal College Ambulance Liaison Committees Guidelines, and the National Stroke Strategy. She co-leads HeadPost, the UK arm of an international study into acute stroke care which is one of the largest nursing care trials in the world and last year received a ‘Special Recognition Life After Stroke Award’ from the Stroke Association for her contribution to improving the lives of stroke survivors. Her work has also produced the Stroke-Specific Education Framework (SSEF), a free digital service which allows care-providers to easily self-assess their knowledge and skills, and generates bespoke educational resources for the individual’s needs. The application won the Guardian University’s Digital Innovation Award for 2017 and is used by medical institutions throughout the UK.

On the day, Caroline was the first to receive an award, and said the whole experience ‘felt like a dream’. She recalled: “I don’t think I’ve been quite so nervous recently! However, I needn’t have been because the Buckingham Palace staff are just amazingly supportive and the whole day was organised to the nth degree. The Palace is very splendid and it was so humbling to see the other 87 people and their families queuing to go up to receive their awards for all the amazing things they have been doing”.

Caroline attended the event with her family – husband Kevin, son and current MTBS pupil Josh, and her 96 year-old mother, Ivy Emily Pope. The day was one of surprises, not least because Caroline found herself sat next to former Kinks frontman Ray Davies, there himself to receive a knighthood for services to the arts. “Ray Davies was just lovely – very modest and unassuming. He too was pleased to think of his mum being so proud of him having the knighthood. It was so lovely of him to congratulate me and it was so cool to meet him”.

While extremely grateful to have received the award, Caroline was keen to stress that none of these things happen in a vacuum, and that the award represented the work of many people in unison. “I always feel a bit of a fraud because research is not a sole pursuit. I have whole teams of fantastic staff that work alongside me, and senior colleagues and peers who are truly supportive on a day to day basis. I am also very lucky to have made contact with, and work amongst lots of incredible researchers and people in all walks of life that we collaborate with on projects and programmes.  Not least the people who themselves have had a stroke, or their partners and relatives. They give their time so freely to contribute to improving care and research – not for their own benefit but for others. So I think the award is for all of them too”.

We would like to congratulate Caroline on her success and wish her well for future. For more information on Stroke Care please visit: For more information on the SSEF, please visit:

The Ukraine Connection – Kiron Reid (1989 Leaver)

The Ukraine Connection

Ukraine has been in the spotlight recently, first for the war and now for Jamala winning the Eurovision Song Contest. Kiron Reid (1982 – 1989) spent six months volunteering and working in Ukraine. He found that his education at Merchant Taylors’ came in really useful.

ukraine BBC_donetsk_luhansk_referendum

In 2014, I left my lectureship at the University of Liverpool so that I could combine my interests in law, politics and international matters by doing international election observation work. I’d  already done this short term in the Balkans, but  now wanted to get a Long Term Observer post, which is like being a regional organiser for an election mission. In May I gained a short term observer post with the UK team for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (the OSCE) , which monitors Ukraine during elections for a new President. I was sent to a city none of us had ever heard of before. Certainly not a sheltered nook.

ukraine 2

Zaporizhia (Zaporizhzhya from Ukrainian) is bigger than Liverpool, a port on the Dnipro / Dnieper, from Soviet times a major vehicle and aircraft manufacturing centre. Zaporizhia is in the South East of Ukraine and is next to the region where the war is currently continuing. I met an English professor from the University, who invited me back as a volunteer when she heard I liked Ukraine. They made me a visiting Professor in the Faculty of Foreign Languages (which specialises in British English), Faculty of Law and Faculty of Journalism. I arrived in a heatwave at the start of October and left in December with snow thick on the ground. I knew about the weather pattern from Geography at school. I knew about the growth of the Russian empire and birth of the Soviet Union from History. The most difficult thing was writing being in Cyrillic, terrible roads and pavements, and some very strange food. Biology helped me understand flora and fauna; and Chemistry the important city industries.

Ukriane picture

I’d like to thank all of my 1980s teachers as they all contributed. My experience helped me get a Long Term Observer contract in Ukraine in September 2015 for the Mayoral Elections. I had two incredible months in beautiful Odessa, Kyiv and northern Chernihiv. It is a country I recommend visiting, especially to find out the truth against Putin’s propaganda.

Kiron Reid (1982 – 1989) is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Liverpool

Kiron has put together some less known information about Ukraine, click the link below to find out more.

Ten things that you may not know about Ukraine


OBA London Dinner 2016

The Merchant Taylors’ London dinner was held on Friday 18 March at the Travellers Club on Pall Mall in London. The Travellers Club was founded in 1819 and sits in the heart of London.

The London dinner is a popular and well attended event in the Old Boys’ Association social calendar. And the evening provided a perfect opportunity for Old Crosbeians of all ages to meet and reminisce over happy memories of our own experiences at Merchants. The event was well attended with a wi
de range of alumni in attendance, ranging from 1939 to 2013.

The evening started with a champagne reception. The guests then sat down to an excellent dinner which was complemented by a range of superb drinks.

Photo 7 School report by Jonathan Green

MTS Crosby was represented by Mr Jonathan Green, Deputy Headmaster, who gave an entertaining speech about life at Merchants. Jonathan’s speech was followed by Mr Darius Ferrigno, the organiser of the London dinner. A highlight of Darius’ speech was sharing the somewhat questionable apologies from some of the missing alumni. After the speeches were complete the dinner was concluded by a powerful and passionate rendition of the school song.

Photo 6 standing for School Song

I would like to extend a special thanks to Darius and Elizabeth Ferrigno for organising the London dinner. The next London event will be the City Drinks event this autumn. The City Drinks are held at the magnificent Merchant Taylors Hall on Threadneedle Street in the heart of the City of London.


Michael Pinder, 2008 alumnus, Old Crosbeian

European Dinner Paris 2016

The Merchant Taylors’ Paris Dinner took place on 14 May. It was a perfect evening when Paris bathed in the glorious sunshine of an early summer’s evening.

The dinner was held at Cercle de l’Union Interalliée, a spectacular club tucked away in the heart of Paris. The Union Interalliée was founded in 1917 as a meeting place for officers of the Allied nations during the First World War.  The interior of the club is opulent, with numerous chandeliers, paintings and rich tapestries. The club also boasts a large garden with a picturesque backdrop of The Eiffel Tour.


The evening began with a champagne reception where guests made new friends and rekindled old acquaintances. The dinner attracted 44 guests from across the various schools – 29 from MTS Crosby (both the Boys’ and Girls’ Schools) and 15 from MTS Northwood. The promise of Paris drew a wide range of alumni which ranged from a 1939 alumnus to a 2014 alumna (both MTS Crosby). And we were not disappointed when it came to food and wine. We were treated to a delightful four course dinner. Each course was delicious and washed down with excellent wine.


There was strong support from MTS Crosby and MTS Northwood. Mrs Louise Robinson, Headmistress of Merchant Taylors’ Girls’ School, Crosby, set out the challenges and opportunities posed by technology in education. Mr Simon Everson, Headmaster of Merchant Taylors’ School, Northwood, echoed Louise’s comments with the news that some MTS Northwood pupils have set up a drone society!

An important part of the evening unfolded after the speeches: the school songs. Despite not being planned, it only took a lone voice to sing ‘not in some sheltered nook…’ for an impromptu choir of MTS Crosby alumni to assemble. There may well be video evidence of the performance that followed…. the only disappointment was doing two verses, not five! The MTS Northwood alumni then responded with an excellent rendition of the all MTS Northwood school song – all in Latin.IMG_4074

After the dinner, speeches and singing had finished a group of younger members embarked on a night out exploring Paris. It was a magnificent and entertaining evening, and was the perfect finale to the fantastic dinner.

Finally I would like to extend a special thanks to Mr Peter Magill for organising the dinner. It was a wonderful evening and I’m sure that all guests will treasure memories from the evening for a long time to come. We are very fortunate to be part of the strong and close family that is Merchant Taylors’.


Michael Pinder, 2008 alumnus, Old Crosbeian



Meryl Wilson nee Gillespie (Stanfield Leaver 1967) – Alzheimer’s Society.


The 2015 Lady Captain of West Lancashire Golf Club, Meryl Wilson, presented a cheque for

£3,065.59 to Alzheimer’s Society.

Joanne Dobbie, Community Fundraiser for Merseyside, Cheshire and the Isle of Man said, “We

are extremely grateful to former Lady Captain, Meryl and the members of West Lancashire Golf

Club for all the time and energy they put into raising funds for Alzheimer’s Society. As a charity,

we rely on the generosity of our supporters to ensure that people affected by dementia across the

local area live well with dementia today and fund research to find a cure for tomorrow”.

The money was raised through a Race Night and Charity Dinner organised at the Club. Meryl

said “This charity is very close to my heart. My mother, Wendy Gillespie, was Lady Captain of

West Lancashire in 1961 and suffered from Alzheimer’s for many years before passing away last

year. I have been overwhelmed by the support from the members and friends, which enabled me

to raise much needed funds”.


Flt Lt Mike Rankine (Leaver 1998) – Charity Bike Ride “On Yer Bike – Mike!”

On Yer Bike – Mike!mike rankine. solo

Old Boy RAF Policeman, Flt Lt Mike Rankine, has set off on an epic 2700 mile solo cycle ride that will take him from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire and he is hoping to complete this epic journey of 9 countires, unsupported in just 14 days. The ride is named ‘Super Trooper’, which mirrors the route taken each work by the RAF’s ‘Trooper’ service between the UK and Cyprus. Mike is undertaking the challening to raise funds for SSAFA Cyprus, a charity that supports serving and ex-serving members of the Forces community in times of need.

To read the full article written by the RAF,  regarding Mike’s Journey, please click the link.
You can follow Mike’s journey on facebook and twitter #supertrooper2016.




mike rankine


Alumni Launch New Dating App – INSTNT

James Gee and Chris Seddon, who both left the school in 2005, are launching their own business and app early in 2016.  The business was created as a side project with James working as an Equity Trader in the City of London and Chris as Head of Marketing at a retail start-up but they both always had entrepreneurial ambitions to start their own business. This is a new and exciting Group Dating app called INSTNT.
datingThe idea of a Group Dating app developed from a belief of spontaneity and strength in numbers. It connects you and your friends with other groups, instantly. The app allows groups to upload ‘real-time’ pictures, swipe and find a match, then message and arrange to meet instantly in a safe and friendly environment. One-on-one dating is proven to be daunting, time consuming and has a low success rate. Unlike other dating apps, INSTNT realises the advantages of a group dynamic, helping to break down the barriers  of  awkward one-on-one  dating,  bridging  the  gap  between  groups  and encouraging  new found friendships or relationships.

INSTNT plans to provide a functionality for restaurants and bars to promote their services to app users within their searchable area. Venues will be able to acquire a top listing on the app by paying a premium rate, thus reaching out to thousands of app users in a specific city and encouraging groups to visit their locations by using discounts and offers.

James and Chris, Co-Founders of INSTNT: “In a growing culture of impatience more and more  of  us  are  heading  online  for  the  convenience  factor,  but  online  dating  rarely  lives  up  to expectation. INSTNT was born after observing the many flaws in one-on-one dating and the negative preconceptions that come with it, including endless swiping, unimaginative messaging and not to mention awkward first dates.  As a result, we have developed an app that is essentially a hybrid of Snapchat and Tinder, cutting out the pressure of one-on-one dating and providing a platform for relaxed dating scenarios amongst friends. INSTNT promotes spontaneity and strength in numbers, it multiplies your chances of having fun, and brings the excitement back to dating.”

It works on a simple four step process: take a group selfie, select the distance you’re willing to travel, swipe through other groups, match and meet instantly. Together in an Instnt.

dating 2



The app is available for download at the Apple Store so check it out.  They also have fun and active social media accounts.

Mail to:

Twitter & Instagram – @InstntDating

Facebook – Instnt Dating

Website –


1979 Leavers Reunite in Liverpool

We met up at The Monro Gastropub in Duke Street, Liverpool, on the evening of Saturday, 17th October 2015, for drinks and a meal.  We’d travelled from all over the UK, Sandra had come from southern Spain and Rosie from Austria.  Julie Laycock, Heather Fisher & Anna Fox organised the event – for which we are very grateful – and we all had a fabulous time catching up.  The noise level had to be heard to be believed.

1979 leavers reunion photo from Sue Thompson (Love).jpg


Front row from left to right: Isabel (Izzy) Harrison, Julie Laycock, Andrea Taylor, Heather Fisher, Moira Shannon, Cathy Harman, Judith Cantrell, Jenny Thomas, Sue Partington

Back row, from left to right: Sue Thompson, Gill Eaton, Fiona McKay, Sally Squires, Helen McMinn , Liz Harwood, Liz O’Grady, Rosie Webster, Gill Aldington, Anne Dobie, Alison Tweedie, Sandra Tillyer, Claire Mercer

Sue Love (nee Thompson)

Former Pupils reminisce over lunch and a copy of Merchants’ Tales

A group of six Old Girls who left in 1966 and 1967 met in August for lunch near Milton Keynes along with six husbands, three of whom are Merchant Taylors’ School Old Boys.  Carol Gibson had brought her recent copy of Merchants’ Tales with an impressive post-it note system highlighting items of interest so we had plenty to talk (and laugh) about!

Photo of Jill Hetherington's reunion August 2015
From left to right (school names in brackets): Jill Donnelly (Daniels), Tilly Reid (Atkinson), Jill Hetherington (Thomas), Gray (Bill) Hetherington (MTBS), Colin Gibson, Paul J. Reid (MTBS), Ian Smith (MTBS), Pete Donnelly, Howard Walker, Gill Walker (Ball), Hilary Smith (Pattison) & Carol Gibson (Baxter).