Career Profiles

Amanda Yip QC, 1987 Leaver


Amanda Yip (nee Kay) attended Merchant Taylors’ Girls’ School from 1980 to 1987. After A levels, she attended Emmanuel College, Cambridge where she read law. She was called to the Bar at Gray’s Inn in 1991 and then returned to Liverpool and joined Exchange Chambers as a pupil barrister.

As a junior barrister, Amanda had a broad practice covering crime, family and civil cases, gaining responsibility at a young age in a range of varied work from representing hardened criminals to dealing with the emotional trauma of family breakdown. Over time, Amanda developed a particular interest in personal injury and medical cases, making good use of her science A levels.

Living in Crosby, Amanda had three children, all of whom attended Merchant Taylors’. Juggling practice with family life, she led the development of flexible working practices in her Chambers and remains a strong supporter of initiatives to encourage the retention of women in the law.

As her experience grew, Amanda specialised in high value personal injury and clinical negligence work. She developed particular expertise in dealing with claims involving children and vulnerable adults. She also acted in several interesting military cases including claims involving incidents in Iraq and Afghanistan. In recognition of her excellence in advocacy, Amanda ‘took silk’ (became a Queen’s Counsel) in 2011.

In 2008, Amanda’s career took a new turn, when she was appointed a Recorder. This role required her to sit several weeks a year as a part-time judge, while continuing in her practice as a barrister. This allowed her to return to a wider variety of legal work, once more experiencing criminal and family cases as well as a range of civil cases. She progressed to be authorised to sit as a Deputy High Court Judge in 2013 and began sitting on more serious and complex cases.

On 1st September 2017, the Judicial Office announced that the Queen had approved Amanda’s appointment as a full-time High Court Judge with effect from 2nd October 2017. She has been assigned to the Queen’s Bench Division and will be responsible for trying some of the most serious civil and criminal cases.

‘Whatever Happened to…’ – Peter Emmerson 1975 leaver

I’m currently facing a quandary which I doubt most of my contemporaries at MTS are contemplating: having just celebrated the age of getting my free 60+ London travel card, do I finally hang up my flak jacket and helmet and perhaps have a more ‘settled’ lifestyle, more befitting to my recent birthday?



MTS (1971 – 1975) will always be remembered as a love-hate relationship during my time of study. Many of my former boyhood friends and colleagues may well recollect that I was not necessarily the most academically gifted or most conformist boy in the class. However, I will always be grateful to those masters who persevered with me and gave me the background knowledge (both academic and worldly) to pursue the career path I still currently tread.

Having left MTS, I subsequently read Electronics and Music at Keele University (having changed my A level subjects after a year to the correct subjects!) and then joined Polydor Records as their junior engineer – continuing my streak of non-conformity by working with punk/new wave/new romantics musical masters such as The Jam, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Visage (who the heck remembers them!!) for a couple of years before joining the BBC in Cardiff as an Audio Assistant.

Gradually rising up through the audio ranks, whilst also moving to BBC News in London, I quickly began to move to field work – away from the bosses – and established my credentials as someone who rather enjoyed forcing equipment to breaking point and then putting it back together again (usually in the right order and with not too many components left over).

Airport runs started to become more frequent. The troubles in Northern Ireland were to prove an excellent training ground for both the career path and for the leaps in technology that have accompanied this path.

Audio at this stage was on the cusp of moving from tape to the computer – and so my studio-based razor blade (for cutting tape) was swapped for a field laptop. The first ‘easily portable, easily set-up’ satellite dishes made their debut – and I could now produce and transmit ‘quality’ audio from anywhere in the world – and get every correspondent I was working with to sound as if they were sitting next to the presenter in the studio (creating ‘location studios’ for programmes such as Radio 4 Today often meant that the foreign correspondent actually was sitting next to the presenter!).

I’m not sure exactly how or why, but I became known as the engineer (and subsequent senior producer) who rather enjoyed those hostile environments – whilst also becoming versed in all aspects of both editorial and technical field work – and the scene was set for my BBC career, with amazing highs but tempered with occasional very difficult lows.



I have three passports and tend to renew at least one a year. I have covered virtually every conflict since Bosnia – on every continent. Drinking tea with the Taleban (they offered me a factory to run after I mended a radio station for them) was followed a few years later by walking into Kabul with John Simpson (via 9-11 in New York). I’ve been ambushed, shot at, bombed and faced the threat of execution.

Alongside conflict has been the coverage of natural disasters – famine, earthquakes and tsunamis. Many of these have been at next to no notice, with my phone on and with me 24 hours a day – a lot of breaking news is just that – it breaks and I head to the airport, hopefully having a few minutes to pick up the essential kit needed for that specific job (I have cases of equipment and stores at home for all eventualities).

Occasionally there is no time to even get home (even though it’s en-route to Heathrow) or the airlines forget to load my favourite case. Covering the breakout of civil war in Ivory Coast, not one case left Heathrow the entire time my correspondent colleague and I were deployed – I also carry at all times a small backpack which contains the essentials, ensuring that we didn’t miss any transmission slot – live and packaged, for both radio and TV. This was also the first occasion that an iPhone was used to broadcast live for BBC TV news.

Finding that I could use all technical equipment, I became the first BBC News ‘multimedia producer’ – handling all aspects of audio, video, satellite communications and IT – often travelling with just a correspondent and therefore very manoeuvrable.

Not all deployments have been hostile though – with memories of trips to the Galapagos Islands, Mandela meets the Spice Girls meet Prince Charles in South Africa, the mountain kingdom of Bhutan, both Everest base camps (Nepal side to cover the earthquake and Tibetan side to cover Olympic torch) and the release of Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar being among dozens of other highlights.

I have worked alongside virtually every BBC foreign correspondent during past few decades – making sure that they get on air saying the right thing at the right time in the right place. The right time is essential for news – missing your ‘slot’ is not an option and can occasionally be rather stressful (Jeremy Bowen’s 4 minute package from west Mosul a few weeks ago took me 6 hours to transmit to our London studios – and got there with 2 minutes before it was due to be on the air). However, behind every correspondent is ‘the team’ – and I’ve been lucky enough to be in that team, alongside a fantastic group of colleagues, for the past 25 years.



Will I give it all up now that I’ve blown out the candles on my 60th birthday cake?  My wonderful (and long-suffering) wife has a list of jobs needed to be done around the house! I’m sitting here writing this in north Iraq, with equipment (now including a drone) spread out before me waiting to head into Syria.

For now, the slippers and pipe have been put on hold!

(Note: Peter’s deployment to Syria has since been completed and the resulting film can be viewed here).

A Leap of Faith

I left Crosby in 1991 to study Civil Engineering at Newcastle University. After graduating with my first Masters degree I joined a design consultancy in Newcastle and enjoyed a very fulfilling career with them for nearly 15 years. When the company experienced a delayed reaction to the 2007 economic crash, I was laid off in early 2010. I was fortunate to attend a 3-week executive placement scheme that helped me to examine my options for future employment, and resulted in me having a defining moment of clarity to pursue a new direction towards vocational Christian ministry.

I had come to a personal faith during my 6th form years at MTS and have been involved in volunteer/lay leadership in the churches I have attended ever since, so this was not so much a ‘new’ thing as it was a re-orientation of my passion and priorities. With the full support and encouragement of my wife and sons, we relocated as a family in 2010 to Pasadena, California for me to study for a second Masters degree in Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. I graduated at the end of 2012 and was subsequently called to serve at a local non-denominational church in Pasadena where I was ordained as a Pastor. I am now serving with an incredibly diverse team that reflects the diversity of our thousand-strong Los Angeles congregation.

My wife is now a Medical School Faculty member at the University of Southern California, where my oldest son has been awarded an undergraduate place to study World Business this fall. My youngest son is still at High School but has his sights set on applying for the Royal Marines after school. The decision to embrace a new direction (and location) at this stage of our lives has not been without challenges, but has enriched us all and led to unprecedented personal growth that could never have happened if we had not stepped out of our ‘sheltered nook’. It has shown me the tremendous value of embracing life-long learning and not being confined to our comfort zones.

Matt Dunn, 1991 Leaver

Old Boy becomes President of Michigan Intellectual Property Inn of Court

William Abbatt left Merchant Taylors’ in 1962 to study Material Sciences at Imperial College London. He stayed a further year to take a Masters course in Production Engineering and Management. Having worked for many years in this field, he decided to study Law, the profession in which he has made his name in the following forty years. Working as a patent attorney, Mr Abbatt has dedicated himself to ensuring that clarity is maintained in all patent disputes, and to protecting the interests of businesses small and large. He has worked for Michigan-based law firm Brooks Kushman since 1986 and has received several commendations for his work, including being named as a ‘Top Lawyer’ in DBusiness Magazine’s 2016 edition and being listed in Intellectual Asset Management’s 1000 Recommended Individuals list for 2014/15.

The Michigan Intellectual Property Inn of Court is a philanthropic organization of judges, lawyers and legal educators that seeks to promote fair and ethical practice amongst junior lawyers and law students. Mr Abbatt helped to found the Inn five years ago and was enthusiastic about moving into a leadership role stating, “As President of this Inn, I have an opportunity to give back to the profession which has treated me so well”. Patterned after the English Inns of Court mentoring system, the Inn looks to provide best practice advice to those new or less skilled in the profession, in part through the educational programmes written by its one hundred plus members. The Inn is currently in the process of organising several outreach programmes which will aim to assist fledgling entrepreneurs in their practices. Mr Abbatt will look to take the organisation forward, while staying true to its initial goal of promoting excellence in advocacy amongst those it mentors.

Merchant Taylors: Life outside the Bubble


23rd June, 2014. 3 days after my final exam at MTGS and I was on a plane to Cambodia. My parents were beside themselves!

I had never been abroad without adult supervision before and 6 weeks of teaching in the remote village of Bakod lay ahead. The days at the school flew by and before I knew it I was travelling the coast of Vietnam! I reluctantly returned home later that summer and began to look for a job for the next year whilst applying to University. I started working at MerseyCare Julie Ann, a domiciliary care agency, and frequently came back to Merchants’ where Mrs. Copley and Mrs. Doyle were my saviours in helping with my UCAS application. Once the invitations to interviews started coming through, I was once again back at Merchants’ to get interview practice with Mrs. Custard. Really, these women are the reason I am in medical school today!

I worked until the following summer and before I knew it I was in Thailand. I did 3 weeks of teaching there with the same company that placed me in Cambodia. I travelled around Thailand for a while, returned to Cambodia and finished the trip up in Laos. I then started at Hull York Medical School in September 2015. We started on the wards from the 3rd week of placement, which is great clinical exposure for seeing real patients. Fast forward to present day and I’ve just started my 3rd year (our holidays get shorter each year… but it’s worth it). The workload is plentiful but definitely manageable.

As I enter phase 2 of medical school, I will be based at the hospitals now for all of my teaching. This means daily ward rounds and lots of practical skills being learned! I am currently being immersed into clinical life, and will be learning lots of new skills within the next few weeks.

And I suppose that concludes my time since I left MTGS. In just three short years I would say I’ve done a fair bit! Where I am now all stems back from the skills and confidence I got from being at MTGS, as well as the tremendous support I received from the Old Girls’ Association. Not only did they support me throughout sixth form, they made it possible for me to attend events like Medsin which enhanced my UCAS application. They even assisted me when it came to my interviews, helping me with trains, flights and accommodation.

The OGA have played a huge role in shaping my life both at and after MTGS. I have so much gratitude for them and hope that others in my position know that they are always there to help students. They are an integral part of the Merchant’s family and I am honoured to be able to call myself an Old Girl.

Sibling Duo Alumni to Produce Legally Blonde Production

Since leaving Merchant Taylors’ Girls and Boys school, brother and sister duo, Laura and Mark McLaughlin, have been running stage school Plastersine Performing Arts Company. Laura graduated in 2006 from LIPA – Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, and opened Plastersine with Mark in January 2008.

Since then, both Mark and Laura successfully auditioned for Manchester School of Acting, with Laura completing 2 years screen acting for beginners, and Mark still going every week for the last 5 years.

Director Mark has been on Hollyoaks several times, with a couple of small speaking parts, and was also the face of Cash Converters in 2014, where he was spotted by friends, family and students on the tv! Several friends would even have selfies outside cash converters shops with Marks face.

Both Mark and Laura pursued piano – Grade 8, trumpet – Grade 8, and vocals – Grade 8, with Laura then going on to gain her Associate Diploma in singing from the London College of Music.

She continued her passion for music and vocals by training with Dane Chalfin in Blue Print Studios Manchester for 5 years, learning Estill vocal techniques used on Broadway, Westend and film. She is currently waiting confirmation to do her CMT – Certified Master Trainer – exams in Estill.

Their latest achievement has been working on board P&O cruise ships during holiday periods, teaching the children on board in drama, singing and dance. With Mark and another team member recently returning from the Caribbean after producing Annie on board P&O Azura.

As a duo, they have produced the following musicals;

Seussical the Musical – 2013 at Ormskirk Civic Hall, Peter Pan the British Musical – 2014 in West Lancashire Theatre, Les Miserables – 2015 in Ormskirk School Theatre, and last year a HUGELY successful Grease, at the Atkinson Theatre in Southport, this first professional show!

Les Miserables was nominated for 10 NODA awards – National Operatic and Dramatic association, with 3 of our performers winning their categories, and Grease was nominated for 10 NODA awards this year too! The awards dinner is being held at the Floral Hall in February.

Following on from the well known classic Grease, a show that cost them £23,000 to produce, they wanted to keep things upbeat and modern, so they chose Legally Blonde the musical. Auditions are being held on January 28th / 29th, and with students from all over the North West auditioning for Les Miserables and Grease, Legally Blonde is sure to be just as competitive and successful, with no expense spared!

For information about their company and this show can be found on their website www.plastersine.com

From Renewable Energy to Vineyards

 

What started as an idea to open a French office for City Windmills, ended up with a relocation to Bergerac and a new career investing in vineyards. “Dordogneshire” as it is more commonly known, is part of Aquitaine and was under English rule for 300 years until the end of the 100 years’ war (1154-1453). Bergerac was part of Bordeaux until the wine appellations split in 1936 and it became its own separate wine region, just to the east of Bordeaux’s famous St Emilion.

Bergerac Wine Holdings ( www.bergeracwine.com) was launched in April 2016, and I re-located there in August to operate my European businesses from a beautiful region full of chateaux and vineyards. (OC 1979) Jonathan Coulthard moved there in 2002, so there may even be an Old Boys re-union at some stage…

David Mapley 1978 leaver seen here with the Honorary Chairman, Comte Laurent de Bosredon

What Can a Fighter Pilot Teach a CEO?

Old Boy Justin Hughes attended Merchant Taylors’ between 1978-82 following his time at the prep school. He has now drawn upon his wealth of experiences to write a book illustrating how to transfer military approaches to working environments…

WHAT CAN A FIGHTER PILOT TEACH A CEO?

My first career was as an RAF fighter pilot.  I flew the Tornado F3 for 6 years and was then lucky enough to spend my last 3 years in the RAF on the Red Arrows.  I became the Executive Officer and flew around 250 displays worldwide.  I had no real longer-term career plan, so it was a case of working out where else I might be able to leverage my skills and experience.  I decided to set up a team building business applying my experience in the corporate world.

My break came before the business even started.  During my last summer on the Red Arrows, I flew in a flypast over Buckingham Palace in formation with Concorde for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.  As a result, I had the opportunity to take a flight to New York on Concorde.  The co-pilot asked me what my next job would be.  I told him about my plans for the business and he said I should meet his sister who was Head of Internal Comms at a large insurer.  They became our first client.

Since then, the business has grown in breadth and depth and is now a consultancy which partners with organisations committed to high performance.  There is a surprising commonality between the challenges faced by a fighter pilot and those which exist in large organisations.  A fighter pilot’s world is characterised by ambiguity, imperfect information and time pressure.  Sound familiar to anyone?  Over time, we have deconstructed the key factors which drive high-performance in that world:

  • People: the primacy of attitude over skills
  • Capability: building alignment before setting people free
  • Delivery: a process to close the gap between desired and actual outcomes
  • Learning: how to accelerate performance in real time

Bring these factors to life in an engaging way was the aim in writing my recent book:  The Business of Excellence:  Building High-Performance Teams and Organizations.  The book draws on lessons from the military, commercial and sporting worlds to illustrate and explain tools and methods which the reader can apply in their own teams.  Experience seems to show that the fighter pilot approach actually translates pretty well to other environments.

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The Business of Excellence, published by Bloomsbury.  ISBN 978-1-4729-3022-4

Jerry Edey 1965-75 – My Life after Merchant Taylors’

My visit to Crosby in September 2016 was to join my friend of over 50 years, Andy Oakes, for the celebration of his 60th birthday but a conversation with Doreen Iddon in the Development Office at the School led to me having a look round the school for the first time since I left in 1974 and sharing some details of my subsequent career for Merchants’ Tales.

I spent 12 years in all at Crosby Prep, Merchant Taylors’ Prep and Main School and left very much imbued with the MTS culture. I was rather more successful at the sports and “leisure” side of things than academic excellence so no University for me but straight into the big wide business world. After a brief time in a quantity surveyors’ office I began my 32 year banking career with Midland Bank International Division Liverpool. I rose through the ranks in Liverpool and, after 5 years, I was offered a significant promotion to Bromley International Division which brought my wife and me to the South East where we settled and started a family. After 3 years in Bromley I soon learned that the streets of London were indeed paved with gold especially for bankers working in the City. For the next 24 years I worked for German, Austrian and French banks in the City specialising in finance of international trade and offering trade facilities to mainly medium and large FTSE 100 companies. I ran the UK trade finance offices of these foreign banks.  During that time I also set up and ran a trade finance company offering trade finance to small companies secured by the goods being financed.

MTS had given me the resilience, confidence, self-sufficiency and ethic of successful team work as well as the ability to get on with people of all types and cultures. I travelled extensively overseas gaining business. Competition within and outside the City was intense but believe I not only coped but flourished in that competitive environment.

After 32 years in banking I needed a complete change from the now 4 hour round commute and all the overseas travel so, at the age of 52, I shifted down from my career to a job as Mayor’s Attendant to the Mayor of the Borough and town of Royal Tunbridge Wells. I have enjoyed this great role for 8 years now. I accompany the Mayors to all their functions and appointments in and outside the Town Hall acting as PA on the road, responsible for security of the solid gold mayoral chains and of course I drive the limo!

Apart from my working career my life has been very full with many highlights. I have a wonderful wife these last 34 years and 3 happy and successful grown up children. I have played a tennis tournament at Wimbledon with Andy Oakes, played football at Wembley in front of 35,000 people and my love of nature / wildlife has led me to snorkelling with killer whales in the Norwegian Arctic, cage diving with Great White sharks off the Southern tip of Africa and trekking tigers on an elephant in India, to name a few adventures.

I meet up with my Old Crosbeian buddies from time to time (see photo) and my children live in Reading, Sheffield and Liverpool. My Liverpool roots, friends and family may well lure me back to Merseyside to live within the next few years.

Photo – Jerry & Friends:

L to R   Mark Litherland (works for local government specialising in property/estate management),      Jerry Edey, Andy Oakes (is now working as a qualified accountant but has previously run a trading company & a chain of retail outlets), Mike Dickinson (who attended Liverpool College) and Steve Breen (Senior Partner at a Southport & Waterloo law practice)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elliott Hargreaves Career Profile

I attended Merchant Taylors 2002-2007, passing my GCSE’s (2 A*s, 3As, 3Bs and a C – cheers Merchants!) and I went on to Formby High for College. After much deliberation, I opted against university and decided I’d try and build contacts and experience in the work place, so I moved down to London and began work in my dad’s music management company. A couple of years into London life, we diversified the company and expanded it into sports and events, where Fusion Festival was born. Fusion caters for young teens and families, where children aged 5 and under can enter free! For the past three years, Fusion Festival has been held in Birmingham’s Cofton Park and has seen international superstars grace the stage, such as Jessie J, Pitbull, Ne-Yo, The Wanted, McBusted and Ed Sheeran, to name but a few.

In 2016, we’ve moved the festival to Liverpool, Otterspool Promenade and Park, on September 3rd and 4th.