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8 February

Inspiring OVs-ambassadors, authors & awards

OV chosen as 2019 Young Ambassador for The Brain Tumour Charity

This week we have got an incredible feature from OV Chantal Smits (Br 12-14) about her journey from discovering she had a brain tumour to becoming a 2019 Young Ambassador for The Brain Tumour Charity.

“I'm a Neurosurgical Anaesthetic Practitioner at The London Clinic and previous to this I was at Great Ormond Street & St George's Hospital. I saw a poster produced by The Brain Tumour Charity this time last year called "HeadSmart" which was created for parents to notice early symptoms of Brain Tumours in children. Having seen this I realised I resonated with 3 or 4 mild symptoms: headaches, visual disturbances, fatigue. However, all of them could be put down to the pressure of being a healthcare professional!

My GP sent me for a non-urgent MRI as I ticked a few boxes, nine weeks later I was diagnosed with a Grade 2 Diffuse Midbrain Astrocytoma which in layman’s terms is a Brain Tumour that is inoperable, currently incurable and is in an area that controls everything from your hormones to your ability to breathe; so it must not grow!

I have MRI scans every 3 months and thus far the mapping shows that it is not growing, so I decided to take on the attitude that if I can't change the situation that I'm in then this is absolutely happening to me for a reason. The fact I work in Neurosurgery but it's inoperable is so ironic, and I still work every day with surgical brain tumour patients. The empathy that we share is immeasurable. In whatever time I have before this grows, which hopefully it never does, I will be a significant driving force in finding the cure to all brain tumours. 

As a Young Ambassador I work alongside 20 other handpicked dedicated individuals who have in some way been affected by Brain Tumours. We work on a National and International Scale to attend Neuroscience events on behalf of the charity, speaking at conferences and touring new laboratories to see the impact that fundraising for research has. We help run large scale fundraisers, promote new campaigns (such as HeadSmart) and lobby Government to ask why in 2019 there is no treatment for Brain Tumours. Brain Cancer kills more under 40s than any other cancer, it is also still the UK's least survivable cancer yet it receives less than 1% of Cancer Research funding. There have been no improvements in outcomes since the 1980s and it simply isn't good enough.

I am hoping that my voice, expertise and passion about raising awareness will mean that more people are diagnosed early, like me, so that they can be monitored before they have a life altering seizure, and that with more awareness comes increased fundraising and ultimately a cure!”

If you would like to know more about how you can get involved please contact us at

OV co-author of landmark gender-diversity in VC report

We were fascinated to learn that while OV Joe Fowles (Cl 05-12) was on secondment last year at the British Business Bank, he co-authored a pioneering piece of research into gender diversity in Venture Capital (VC) investments.

The report, which was published this week, analyses and quantifies the barriers that female entrepreneurs face when seeking VC and the results have been quite shocking. For every £1 of Venture Capital investment, all-female founder teams receive less than 1p – yet all-male teams receive 89p; last year, 83% of VC deals did not involve a female founder.


This revealing report made the front page of the Telegraph and has also featured across major news outlets including Sky News, the Financial Times and Forbes.

More details can be found on Joe’s LinkedIn blog here and the full report can be downloaded here.

Well done Joe in your role in bringing to light this important and thought-provoking issue.

OVs reunite at awards

OVs Laura Copsey (W 01-08) and Tom Byrne (K 01-08) recently bumped into each other at the industry-leading Edie Sustainability Leader Awards, both attending as finalists for their respective companies, WRAP and Landsec. Tom won the award for sustainability in the built environment, while Laura’s Plastic Planet campaign was narrowly pipped to the post by Ikea. They were able to chat shop and discuss potential partnership opportunities amidst catching up on King's news!





OV returns to King's

We love welcoming OVs back to King’s and Head of Alumni Relations, Sophie, was delighted to have a visit on Wednesday from Barney Burnham (Ch 59-69). Barney kindly came in to share a selection of Three Choirs Festival programmes which had been given to him by former teacher J. M. (Bobbie) Cash.

It was lovely to hear Barney’s memories of taking part in the Three Choirs festival in 1969 (Barney has kept that programme at home!), and the many other memories of school teachers, friends and experiences here at King’s. He spoke fondly of J.M Cash who retired in 1973, having been heavily involved in all aspects of King’s life, especially sport and drama. In his career Barney has worked as a Broadcaster and Journalist, and his current role is match reporter for the Wasps rugby team, Coventry. His love of rugby extends beyond Coventry – he is also a tour guide at Twickenham stadium!

Visit to Bolton School

Development Director Liz, and Head of Alumni Relations, Sophie, enjoyed a trip to Bolton School this week. It was an absolute pleasure to visit the place where former King’s Senior Deputy Head, Sue Hincks (Hon OV), is currently Headmistress of the Girls Division.

Liz and Sophie really enjoyed meeting their equivalents in the Development Office at Bolton, and they were delighted to hear that Alumni engagement and support is thriving all around the UK, not just in Worcester! It was also hugely interesting to hear how supportive alumni have been in donating to Bolton School's bursary appeal, something about which all of us at King's are very passionate.