Read and listen to stories from some of our bursary pupils.
Thanks to the generosity of bursary donors, I was able to spend over half of my childhood being nurtured and developed within the King’s environment; this undoubtedly provided me the opportunity to achieve my potential both vocationally as well as socially. It is a gift for which I will always be thankful.
I joined King’s at nine-years old as a Cathedral Chorister; shy and unsure of myself yet left as a courageous and curious adult with life-long friends. I felt confident in my ambition to make a meaningful difference to society through the healthcare system, more specifically in the field of Dentistry, firm in the knowledge that the more you apply yourself to what you do, the more successful you will be.
Whilst the facilities available at King’s were excellent, it was the teaching staff who created an inspiring academic environment. Any work-based struggles I experienced were overcome thanks to the patience and willingness of my teachers to help when asked, and the pastoral support received, particularly at a time of family loss was outstanding. I received constant encouragement to do my best and know that each member of staff firmly believed in the ethos of getting the most from each pupil.
This pursuit of pupil fulfilment and well-roundedness extended far beyond the classroom. For myself, this involved participation in a number of music groups, both as a singer and cornet player This was invaluable in the development of team-working skills but also provided opportunity to gain confidence through solo performance. I thoroughly enjoyed participating in swimming, athletics and the Duke of Edinburgh too. It has become apparent to me that skills such as self-reliance, self-discipline and the importance of utilising time efficiently were all refined during my time at the school.
I was the recipient of several extra bursaries which afforded me the opportunity to explore my passions and interests overseas, the most powerful being an exchange to Germany in the Lower Sixth. Initially planned to involve working in a Kindergarten, my curiosity led me to spend the weeks with my exchange partner’s father within his dental surgery. This inspired my career choice where I am currently working as an Academic Clinical Fellow in Primary Dental Care at the Plymouth University having graduated with Honours and the Dean’s Gold Medal.
I am proud and humbled to have been educated at King’s and know that the values instilled within me today find their origins at this wonderful school.
After King’s I went into environments where having the highest grades was a given and alone didn’t guarantee me an interview. The bigger and scarier question then became “and, what else?”. So I have written a bit about how King’s helped me develop three things in particular: self-awareness, resilience and confidence.
Trying so many extracurricular activities and a broad range of academic options allowed me to explore my interests at an early stage. As a result I knew what my strengths and weaknesses were and could use this knowledge to my advantage. To pick one example, my love of languages: I started with French Club with an Assisted Place at Hawford (although I think this was mostly just eating croissants), did a taster carousel in Lower 4th, could study 2 languages through to GCSE and A level as well as some Latin and Greek, I had conversation lessons with native French and Spanish speakers and spent a week working in a French bakery. Now I’ve picked up a third language as an adult, spent a fifth of my life abroad and work in a large, international law firm.
Resilience. At King’s whenever something didn’t go as planned or I got a bit complacent, my teachers would push me that bit further, encouraging me to use the language lab to self-study or setting me harder homework. They reminded me to keep my head down and go after more than just what I needed to do well in an exam.
From that self-awareness and resilience comes a certain confidence and courage. You know your own ability and your limitations, you know what you do and don’t enjoy and you’re willing to work hard to improve. If something goes wrong you can stay positive and plan a different way of achieving your goals. Those skills serve you well regardless of your academic level and professional background.
You’ll see in our new literature several examples of OVs who have excelled in their university and professional careers. As you read them I’ll hope you’ll wonder what their “what else?” might be and remember how King’s also develops soft skills which stay with you for life.
“The memories I have made at King’s will never be forgotten. I was given many opportunities to become a more well rounded student. My personal highlights include two successful seasons with the 1st VX, 1st XI and 1st VII. Being awarded the role of Head of school house was also one of my proudest achievements and winning Bowler cup for my contribution to school sport at King’s day was my happiest moment.
All of these achievements both academically and sporting would not be possible without the support I received”
I joined the King’s Foundation at Hawford in 2000, and was able to complete my education at King’s in 2014, thanks to the generosity of bursary donors and the Rank Foundation. I was very fortunate that there was funding available for me to complete my GCSEs at King’s, after the economic downturn and family breakdown put me and my family in a difficult position at the beginning of Fifth Form. King’s put me forward for a Leadership Scholarship from the Rank Foundation and winning this enabled me to progress into the sixth form. This was more important to me than simply continuing with an excellent education, as staying at King’s gave me continuity and stability when there was a lot of change in my life, and I’ll always be grateful for that.
The numerous opportunities to lead and take responsibility throughout my time in the school have given me a lot of confidence in myself and my abilities; indeed, it was captaining the school quiz team which encouraged me to audition for my college’s University Challenge team, and now we can be seen on the current series! Without confidence imbued in me at King’s as a Monitor and on various sports teams I probably wouldn’t have taken up Cricket either, and last year that lead to me winning a Full Blue in the Oxford and Cambridge Varsity Match at Fenner’s.
I left King’s with a well-rounded set of skills and interests, from history and biology to sports and educational inequalities. I combined these in my degree in Geography at Oxford University, where I also gave access and admissions workshops to over 1000 young people, inspired by the benefits of pushing for and capitalising upon the best possible educational opportunities, regardless of your background or situation. I have been lucky enough to follow several of these pupils as they begin their studies at high flying universities, and so the support I was given by King’s has had a tangible ripple effect on the lives of numerous other young people.
As I go forward into a Masters by Research degree in Avian Ecology, and then hopefully a PhD, I remain among the many OVs who appreciate the generosity of bursary donors. A King’s education set me up for a successful future because it gave me self-confidence, leadership skills, an appetite for learning, and a wonderful group of close friends, for which I am immensely grateful.
I was comfortable and happily settled at King’s when my family’s circumstances changed. Finances would no longer cover school fees and it was likely that my brother and I would have to change schools. A bursary allowed me to remain at King’s throughout my GCSEs and following Sixth Form studies. As well as academic continuity, remaining in the same school with my friends brought stability during a time that was already unsettling. I am very grateful to the donors that provided funds for my bursary.
My education at King’s formed a solid academic base from which I went on to study Geography at the University of Durham. I have subsequently pursued a career in contaminated land consultancy undertaking investigations of brownfield sites in preparation for their redevelopment across the UK. Most recently, I have just finished a period as head of the department for a small environmental consultancy.
As a young child, I had grown used to moving house every few years as my parents relocated for work. When they finally settled in Worcestershire in the 1990s, they wanted a nurturing environment where I could achieve my social and academic potential.
Bidding for a scholarship could be overwhelming to an 11-year-old boy, but the Director of Music was incredibly welcoming and treated me like I deserved to be there and could add something to the school’s already vibrant music department. Once I was accepted, I went on to play in the school orchestra and was encouraged to pursue my love for the piano at King’s concerts and events. More than ten years later, I still play the piano (almost) daily. King’s taught me the importance of maintaining passions alongside academia, or now, a career.
A King’s education is an asset to any career path. Its name rightly carries prestige not just by way of its academic rigour, but because it offers exposure to a new world of ideas (More than one guest speaker left me amazed at life’s possibilities) and a huge variety of extra-curricular activities. You leave with a lively sense of self-worth and the tenacity to remain always curious – free to carve your own path through later life. The values King’s instilled have remained with me to this day, and it is a school I always recall with fondness and pride. I would urge anyone considering donating to the Bursary Appeal to do so knowing that your financial contribution will impact individuals long after they have left King’s.
Later I went on to the University of Warwick to study Philosophy with Psychology, and eventually to convert to law. I now manage international litigation and regulatory investigations projects for a leading international law firm. I am also an independent advisor for Thomson Reuters, exploring how the introduction of new technologies – such as Artificial Intelligence – might disrupt the legal sector.
Simply put, I would not be in this position were it not for the wealth of opportunities presented to me at King’s. When I sit at a piano today, I can vividly remember my first concert in College Hall. Over a decade later I was given the opportunity to play at the wedding of a fellow OV, a moment that I think exemplifies the value of a King’s education. King’s shaped my interests, hobbies and lifelong friendships. This is something for which I will always be hugely grateful.
As for my experience at King’s as a student in receipt of a bursary – I genuinely don’t think I would be where I am today without spending my Lower and Upper sixth years at King’s. Academically, socially and personally, attending King’s helped me develop into the person I am today and, most importantly, helped me grow in confidence to pursue my interests. Studying Physics, Maths and Economics for my A-Levels left me as one of the few girls in most of my classes and perhaps I wouldn’t have pursued those subjects if it weren’t for the teachers and students at King’s encouraging me to do what I enjoy and not worry what others think. Without this support, I would not have gone to university to study Physics with Astrophysics and ultimately would not be on the Graduate Programme I am on today.
Outside of academics, King’s allowed me to fulfil my other main passion of theatre and dance. I was lucky enough to be in Upper Sixth when King’s put on a production of Les Mis and that will forever be one of my best memories of King’s. Not only did I get to perform, I got to do so alongside great friends. I was also lucky enough to travel to Spain with the choir on a concert tour. Again, this is an experience I wouldn’t have had if it weren’t for the bursary programme.
King’s gave me the confidence to strive for my goals and also provided me with the tools to succeed. None of it would have been possible without the generosity of the bursary scheme making King’s accessible to me. The bursary scheme works so well at making the benefits of King’s accessible to all and, for that, I will be forever grateful.
It’s difficult to capture my amazing experience and gratitude to the bursary scheme and King’s in a few words! I hope for all the best with the future of the bursary scheme and really hope the 40 places is one day realised – every place really does make a difference!
I was never the most academic of children – I found it hard to focus on a lot of subjects, but one of the things that was fantastic was that teachers generally found a way to get the best out of you, even when you might be struggling with a particular subject or concept. I always felt included in, integrated into, and supported by, a community. A community of friends, teachers, advisors and people who really cared. That community instilled a confidence in me to believe in myself and also push myself and try new things that I might not have otherwise. There was a great choice of subjects, clubs, activities and sports to be involved with that help to see and do amazing things. As part of the first school rugby tour of Australia, I got to see a part of the world, compete against schools and meet people that I may never have done otherwise. One of the boys we played against from a school in Melbourne is my best friend to this day!
I never really knew what I wanted to do, but I had always been relatively technically minded and liked technology. After having tried to set up a company (unsuccessfully) aged 20, I began working in Telecommunications & IT – something I had learned about and enjoyed at School. After working in the industry with BT for 8 years, I decided to start another company of my own in 2012. In the 5 years since we started, we have grown the company to become the largest in our part of the Telecommunications industry in the UK, delivering our services to businesses in more than 28 countries across 4 continents and winning multiple industry awards on the way.
King’s gave me the foundation to build my company and my life as it is now. It gave me an educational foundation coupled with the confidence and belief in myself to dream bigger, which is something that I have found invaluable in both my personal and professional life.
Growing up, there wasn’t a lot of money around for me and my brother, but there were a lot of books. Mum had been a single parent since I was a toddler, and things were often a bit tight. I remember there was a time when mum was so upset that she didn’t know how she was going to pay the utility bill, that I pretended to the neighbour at the front door that she’d “just popped out.” But there was never any shortage of adventures to be had or beauties to enjoy on our sagging bookshelves. Honestly (and if it’s not horribly twee), that made it a rich childhood indeed.
Neither of my parents had a degree but Mum was determined that I would, if I wanted to. She was sure I wasn’t really fulfilling my potential at high school (“trying”, I think she said), and looking back, she was right… (don’t tell her I said so).
I was lucky enough to get a scholarship and a bursary to join King’s in the sixth-form. There was no way I could ever have gone without that, and I actually can still remember that letter arriving (the paper was a warm, creamy colour). It made everything possible.
Arriving at King’s was wonderful – College Green like an oasis in the city, the welcome warm and genuine. But I was convinced I’d committed social suicide within the week. On my first day I got my shoe stuck in a grating and was hopping about on one foot like a mad thing (until a student I’d just met spent a good ten minutes winkling it out for me) and then two days later I won a prize in an essay competition for everyone starting to study English Literature at A level, which was surely ruinous (instead, people I’d never met wandered over to say ‘well done!’, and to introduce themselves because I was new).
Over time I began to realise that some of my peers were planning to be doctors, lawyers, something mysterious in the City. I can’t explain how astonished I was. It seems dense now, but it’s easy to underestimate how, at sixteen, your surroundings can so dramatically shape your sense of what ‘people like me’ might do. It was revelatory, and it took a little time to sink in. By the time that university applications came round, I remember my House Mistress and also my English teacher seeking me out to ask why on earth I hadn’t been at the Oxbridge interview preparation class. I hadn’t realised it was an option (for me).
A few years later on, I graduated from Oxford University with a 1st class degree in English Literature. I’ve spent 3 years in management consulting at OC&C Strategy Consultants (one of those jobs I didn’t think ‘people like me’ did), went on to lead strategy at the Royal Academy of Arts, and now find myself working daily with the philosopher Alain de Botton at The School of Life. I loved my time at King’s – but I don’t yearn to go back; I’m enjoying where it got me to far too much.
I don’t think I could possibly overstate the importance of the Bursary Campaign. It was simply transformative. Any gift towards it is an act of profound generosity to a young person’s future; I wish them every possible success in life.
From an early age I was always interested in buildings and structures of all shapes and sizes. I was fascinated by their construction and hoped that I could one day be part of a team that would be responsible for the design and construction of such developments. On a visit to America my imagination was fuelled even more with the sheer enormity of the buildings. Rome also gave me a fantastic insight to the majestic flair and design of the many structures around the city. I was also very interested in great engineering projects such as the Channel Tunnel which was a feat of engineering brilliance from conception to delivery of the completed project.
My parents were determined to give me the best education possible in order that I could achieve my goal in the engineering world. We researched local schools and visited them on open days to view the facilities and how high expectations were for incoming students. Kings was our number one choice as it seemed to have everything one could wish for in academic, sporting and social facilities although it must be said a sportsman I was not, I tried most of the many sports on offer but even with the great facilities they did not manage to enhance my sporting prowess. I found Kings to be a great learning school in all fields making some very good friends, some of whom I am still in regular contact with. It was for me a happy friendly environment.
As my chosen field was in engineering it was important that I performed well in maths and physics. I did find the academic side a bit of a struggle at first but did get into the swing of it as I progressed through the school. This progression was made possible because of the skill and application of the teaching staff who happily went the extra mile to help anyone who asked for it. The House Master was extremely important and helpful in all areas of school life, he could be approached at any time about any aspect of the school curriculum and day to day extra activities. Kings provided many after school clubs and workshops. Mr Keyes (Headmaster) was a very learned man. I was particularly struck at his ability to remember all the pupils’ names, which was no mean feat. He was a strong believer in bringing out the best in all pupils.
Being lucky to take advantage of the bursary facility allowed me to complete my education to a satisfactory level and acceptance into university in my chosen field of Civil Engineering. The knowledge gained especially in maths and physics was indeed a great basis to take on the complexities of engineering maths. University was now a greater challenge for me, it being my first time away from home and new friends to make. However, the confidence gained through my time at Kings saw me through and motivated me to succeed and achieve the very best I could. I left university with a Masters Degree in Civil Engineering and afforded me the opportunity to venture into my chosen area.
I now work for a major engineering company in the North West gaining valuable experience with the different aspects of my job. I am at present working towards Chartership and will strive to be qualified as a chartered engineer in the next two years. The variety of work is immense and with the HS2 project on the horizon the challenge for the future and the prospects are exciting to say the least.