alumni

Old Boy donates equipment to DT department

The DT department of the Boys’ School was grateful to receive a very kind donation of equipment from Old Boy Geoffrey Brazendale.
Mr Brazendale (1949 – 58) made the donation personally in October 2017 having travelled from his home in Cumbria. He was met by staff from the Alumni Relations Office and had the experience of a modern-day school lunch before presenting the micrometers to some Middle School pupils and Sixth Formers in the afternoon.

He had previously attended Speech Day in 2016 when one of his peers had been the Guest Speaker.  Following this he visited the school on a couple of occasions and felt he wanted to share his lifelong passion for engineering with current pupils in a practical way.

Mr Brazendale worked as a factory inspector in the North-East for a number of years and contacted the School about a gift for the DT Department.  Not only did engineering form an integral part of his working life but also his interest in motorcycles.  He published a book on the history of the sidecar in 2013.

Our thanks go to Geoff for his very kind gift to the School. Mr Brazendale’s book entitled ‘The Sidecar: A History’ is available in the Boys’ School library or to purchase at the following link.

London City Drinks 2017


On a temperate autumn evening, over 80 people called in at this year’s London City Drinks event held at The Merchant Taylors’ Company Hall.

For some, it has become a regular, informal meeting point with school friends, for others it was a first visit and a chance to catch up on careers and reconnect with the Merchants family and fellow alumni. It also represents a chance for the attendees to explore the beautiful Merchant Taylors Company Hall, which gives the School its name and crest.


Early arrivals were treated to a short historical tour of the hall before (fittingly) being joined by the current Master of the Company, Old Boy Peter Magill. Reconvening in the Drawing Room, the guests were joined by current members of staff, as well representatives of both the Old Boys and Old Girls Associations. For many, it was the first chance to meet the new Acting Headmaster of the Boys School, Mr Deiniol Williams, following his appointment to the role over the summer. Joining him were Louise Robinson, MTGS Headmistress, as well as, Steve Kay and Steve Fletcher, both from MTBS. Former Head of Economics John Farrell also attended, as well as Margaret Mann, former Head of Stanfield.

Special mention must also be made to 1978 Leaver Judith Redhead, who joined her friend and Chair of Governors Beverley Bell, having made the journey from her home in the USA. Mrs Redhead was a guest of Beverley’s investiture lunch at the Hall the following evening, having received her CBE at Buckingham Palace earlier in the day.

If you live in the London area or visit the capital through your work, look out for the date of next year’s event and please consider joining us. Our next City Drinks will be in Liverpool on 21/03/2018 at the Racquet Club. If you have any queries you would like to share, please contact the Development Office at devoffice@merchanttaylors.com.

Old Boy elected Master of the Merchant Taylors’ Company

Old Boy Peter Magill has recently been elected as the Master of the Merchant Taylors’ Company in Threadneedle Street, London.

It was Crosby sheep farmer John Harrison who first went to London and joined the Company as an apprentice to learn the tailoring trade. His son, also called John, continued in the trade and subsequently bequeathed a sum of money in his will to found a school in Crosby. Although John Junior had never visited the area, he had heard his father talk of the need for a school. So, in 1620, Merchant Taylors’ School Crosby was founded.

Peter joined the school in 1956, entering the ‘Prep School’ in what would now be Year Five. By his own admission Peter had a singularly unspectacular school career by Merchants’ standards, and left in 1966 to attend the City University in London. Here a chance meeting with the then Master of the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers led to an introduction and subsequent Apprenticeship with the Merchant Taylors’ Company. Some seven years later Peter was made a Freeman of the Company and of the City of London and, in 1989, was admitted as a Liveryman of the Company.



Now living in Birmingham, Peter was asked to represent the Company as its nominated School Governor in 2005, and served on the Board of Governors up until July 2017. In 2009 Peter was elected to the Court of the Company and after serving on various committees – including two terms acting as one of the four Wardens of the Company – he was elected as its six hundred and ninety first Master in July of this year. While the earliest records are unclear it is thought that Peter is the first ‘boy’ from the Crosby school to hold this position.

Today the Company maintains close links with all its schools and also has a very active charity function, administering various trust funds created over the centuries.

“It is a great privilege and honour to be elected Master of this ancient Company” says Peter. “It will be a busy but very enjoyable year. There are already over two hundred meetings, appointments and functions to attend, not least of which will be two visits to Liverpool for the Girls’ School Prize Giving and the Boys’ Speech Day.”

“We are also busy with the preparations for the Company’s next joint schools concert, after the success of the first at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall in March 2016. I am hoping to see a strong contingent of musicians, parents and visitors from Crosby for the afternoon of 11th November 2018 at Symphony Hall in Birmingham.”

 

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).

Head Girls Supper 2017

Mrs Robinson welcomed back Old Head Girls from the past eleven years to join her for the annual Head Girls’ Supper.

The supper had added poignancy this year, as Mrs Robinson enters her final year as Headmistress of MTGS. She was joined by Head Girls mainly from her previous years at the School. Of particular note was returning alumni Kate Attwood, who was a Head Girl whilst the current Head Girl team were in Year 7.



In attendance were Pramudi Wijayasiri, Kate Attwood, Laura McGuckin, Millie McCaughrean, Esme Malley, Sarah Goldstein, Eleanor O’Shaughnessy, Sara Algebara, Milly Cadman, Saoirse McGowan, Sarah Tobin, Catherine Magennis, Oishi Sikdar, Sophie Marsh and Rosie Solomon.

The girls were joined by the Deputy Heads of School, Miss Tyndall and Dr Bush, as well as the current Head Girl team for a delicious three course meal in the Library at MTGS and a lovely time was had by all.



 

Birchall Brothers visit Old School

The Schools were pleased to welcome back Old Boys Bill and Basil Birchall for the afternoon as they paid a visit to departing Headmaster David Cook.

The visit was a result of Bill attending our North American reunion dinner, where he was first introduced to David. The brothers returned at the School’s invitation to meet with the Headmaster before he departed for his new post at Repton School, Dubai over the summer. On their arrival they were given a tour of the site before sitting down for a small lunch with David in his office. They later stayed for the afternoon’s cricket match and were shown several archival materials from their time at the School.



A 1958 leaver, the visit was Bill’s first time returning to the site since leaving as a young man, having made his career as an accountant, first in London, and then in Canada. His younger brother Basil, a 1959 leaver, lives in Harrogate and worked at ICI for many years helping to produce speciality chemicals for use in industry. He was also Head Boy and first XI Cricket Captain during his time at MTS – his cricket portrait hangs in the IRSC Cricket ‘Hall of Fame’.



The brothers have longstanding links with the School and have supported the Bursary Fund generously for many years. Following the unexpected death of Basil’s twin brother Richard in 1992, the brothers set up and have funded the Birchall Bursary in his memory. During the visit, they also met with Louise Robinson, MTGS headmistress, as well as Mrs Beverley Bell CBE, Chair of Governors. They spoke warmly of their time at the School, not least their time spent as boarders in the now demolished Harrison House. They were pleased to see the School in such good health and impressed with how the site has developed since they left.

Our thanks go to Bill and Basil for their continued support.

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

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.

OGA Summer Luncheon 2017

Saturday, 24th June, saw the annual OGA Summer Luncheon as our Old Girls returned to MTGS for the chief social event of their calendar.

Over 60 Old Girls, current pupils and staff attended the Luncheon, which will unfortunately be Louise Robinson’s last as Headmistress following her decision to leave the School this coming Spring. Guests were treated to a three course meal, after which there was a short speech from OGA President, Anna Gervasoni, about School News and changes to the association. Following a recent committee meeting, it was decided to update the OGA’s constitution and increase the term Presidents of the Association serve from one to two years. Anna will therefore now hold this role for two years, as will all subsequent incumbents.

Among those present were Anna’s sister and Vice-President, Marie-Claire, along with her mother Dorothy who came as a guest. The event was also attended by OBA President Jeremy Myers and Chair of Governors/Old Girl, Beverley Bell CBE. This year there were three large cohort group reunions from the years 1957, 1967 and 1982, with the 1967 reunion in particular being very well supported.

Our thanks to all of those who attended and helped to make the event such a wonderful afternoon, in particular OGA Secretary, Sheila Duncan, for handling all the bookings and organisation of the event.