Each term we ask members of staff a few light-hearted questions about themselves so that friends of St Mary's School, Cambridge can get to know our team a bit better. Enjoy reading about our members of staff by clicking on each link below.
What was your favourite subject at school? My favourite subject changed from time to time. In Year 7, I was most enthusiastic about English, French and Art. History and Geography took over in Years 8 and 9, though the Geography teacher complained about my untidy handwriting so much that in exasperation he bought me a new pen which he kept in his cupboard and insisted I use in his lessons in the hope that I would pen something he could read! I then had a passion for Biology for a bit, mainly because I loved drawing the diagrams. I really enjoyed all of my subjects at A Level: English, History, Geography and Religious Studies, and kept changing my mind about which to study at university, initially opting for English but then changed my mind again while there and ended up studying Theology.
Can you tell us about your route to becoming a Chaplain at our school? I decided to become a teacher in my late twenties when my son was about to start school, so that I could be at home in the holidays, initially it was a career choice for convenience; I had no idea I would enjoy it so much. I had taught ballet before that and enjoyed it but found that being in the classroom with students every day was much more interesting, fun and fulfilling.
I decided to work at St Mary’s School, Cambridge after several people who knew the school suggested it would suit me. I was interviewed in what is now the Parents’ Room next to the chapel, and I remember contented looking ducks strolling around outside the window. I could not resist coming to work in a school with ducks in the garden, and such lovely people working there, and for several years we had a ‘pet’ duck called Mabel who was cherished by everyone.
I decided to become a Chaplain after I retired from teaching, again, because someone suggested I might like to do it – and I do; it is a real privilege to be trusted with people’s confidences. What I most like about working here is the fact that here you can be yourself, be accepted, and be valued. I also enjoy the slightly wackier elements of school life, whether that be the annual fun run, or the occasional surprises such as walking through school and seeing a pet cockerel strutting around the garden (for the small pet show in Lourdes fundraising fortnight).
Favourite things! What's your all-time favourite…
Book: I have lots of favourite books! I love ‘The colour of Heaven’ by James Runcie which is an exploration of what life is all about, and is beautifully written with very engaging characters and a happy ending! The book I probably reread most often is ‘Leave it to Psmith’ by PG Wodehouse which is so funny - his use of language is very entertaining. Other favourites are ‘A Suitable Boy’ by Vikram Seth, ‘Villette’ by Charlotte Brontë and ‘Miss Garnett’s Angel’ by Sally Vickers.
Poem: My favourite poem is probably ’Broken Dreams’ by WB Yeats.
Film: The film I have enjoyed most in my life is ‘Hamlet’, the version in Russian with music by Shostakovich; it is so atmospheric. I also really love ‘The Gospel according to Matthew’ by Pasolini; it was acted by amateurs and is silent, set to music. The stories are depicted through action and facial expression. It is extremely reflective and ‘human’.
Hobby: At the moment, painting.
Genre of music: I particularly like Bach but Beethoven and Shostakovich are also favourites.
What, or who, inspires you? I think my inspiration comes from inside these days; I just get a greater feeling of satisfaction if I have done something well - but it is not something I particularly worry about, I am just happy to ‘do’ and it is a bonus if I manage to do it well!
Where has your best holiday ever been? It is very difficult to choose one as many holidays have been favourites for different reasons, but if I have to choose one I think it would be to Florence.
What’s your worst habit? I shred paper, polystyrene and plastics cups - or anything else shreddable that is put in to my hands.
Team Trivia - Can you name all of Henry VIII’s wives? Catherine of Aragon; Anne Boleyn; Jane Seymour; Anne of Cleves; Catherine Howard; Catherine Parr. [Correct answer!]