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We are always interested to hear from BHS alumnae, both in the UK and across the globe, with news about their careers, lives and achievements. We would be very happy to hear from any BHS alumnae who would be willing to help our current students, either by speaking about different careers paths, mentoring students and/or BHS alumnae on career development, or to arrange work experience for our Sixth Form students.
Please contact Corrie Rafferty in our marketing department (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you think you might be able to help.
CHRISTINA OKELLO - Investigative Journalist
Following 6th Form study at Blackheath High, Christina read English, French and Politics at Leeds University before moving to Paris to read for an MA in Journalism.
Since this time, Christina has been based in Paris having worked as: correspondent for Israeli news channel JN1, Assistant Producer at France 24, a TV journalist at Africa 24 and a video journalist at Telesud. With extensive experience covering French national news, focusing in particular upon human-interest stories, her current role as investigative journalist at Radio France International keeps Christina busy reporting on areas of particular interest, including human rights, environmental issues, disaster and humanitarian relief, specialising in the Middle Eastern and African regions.
In a recent publication Christina condemned the escalating violence against journalists, and the failure of governments to do anything about it, exposing the cycle of impunity that exists linked to the fact that often the killers are the ones in power. We were delighted to welcome Christina back to the school to give a speech at the 2015 Prize Giving ceremony.
FARAH CASWELL - Environmental Engineer
My time at Blackheath High provided me with the necessary skills, support and confidence so that I was ready to face the world after school. From the very first time I entered and decided it was the school for me, to the last time I left, I enjoyed every minute and still look back fondly! Blackheath High and its teachers have a way of helping you find your strengths and building on them. Not to mention, friendships that stand the test of time. The warm and nurturing environment offers every and any opportunity it can so that when you take that first step after school, you're ready for what may come your way. Looking back, I realise how fortunate I am to have had such a great start to my education and my career. This comes at a particular stage as I am just finishing my Civil Engineering degree at Imperial College London and starting anew at Foster + Partners as an in-house Environmental Engineer.
CHARLENE WHITE - Journalist and Newsreader/Anchor
Charlene White is a journalist and newsreader/news anchor and currently employed by ITN, where she presents national news on ITV News and regionally on ITV London. She has previously presented radio news and entertainment shows at the BBC. Including BBC London 94.9, Radio 5Live, and BBC 1Xtra.
After leaving Blackheath High School, Charlene graduated from the London College of Printing. She worked as a newsroom journalist for Meridian TV in Kent, then as a presenter and senior broadcast journalist at BBC Look East, Radio 5 Live Morning Reports, BBC Three 60 Seconds and BBC News.
In 2008, she joined ITN - as a newscaster for the ITV News at 5:30 on ITV, during which time she became a regular presenter of ITV London News. She also started presenting the ITV News Weekend Daytime bulletins on a rotation basis. In April 2014, Charlene White became the first black woman to present ITV's News at Ten. Charlene can be regularly seen hosting weekend evening ITV News programmes, the weekday ITV News at 1:30 and ITV News London evening programme, as well as relief-presenting the main weekday programmes ITV News at 6:30 and ITV News at Ten.
Charlene also makes a valuable contribution to the school in her role as a Blackheath High School governor.
PROFESSOR ANNA CRAFT (1961-2014)
Professor Anna Craft was a pupil at Blackheath High School from 1976- 80. Anna went on to Cambridge University from the sixth form, and after graduating with a BA in Social and Political Science, obtained the Postgraduate Certificate in Education and an MA in the Philosophy of Education at the London University Institute of Education. She was a successful primary school teacher in London, became a Teacher Fellow at the Polytechnic of North London, then a Project Officer at the National Curriculum Council. In 1991 she joined The Open University, in due course being appointed to a Professorship in Education there, combining this with a Professorship in Education at the University of Exeter. She also became a Visiting Scholar in the Harvard Graduate School of Education in the United States.
Anna argued that a problem-solving, “possibility thinking” capacity is now a fundamental requirement in modern living, and that today’s complex and fast-changing world requires creative abilities which need to be cultivated from the earliest years. She presented her ideas in well over 100 books, book chapters and journal papers, and became an internationally recognised and highly respected leader in the study of creativity in education.
Her colleagues and students regarded her as a warm and wise friend, combining commitment and intellect with exceptional vitality, diligence and humour. And the distinguished Harvard Professor, Howard Gardner, has written that “...she deserves much of the credit for reinvigorating the study and understanding of creativity and play in young children ... (she) was one of those rare individuals whom it was always fun to be with, to learn from, and to be inspired by ... she was the epitome of life and high spirits”.
In the summer of 2014, Anna sadly died from cancer, aged 52. She is survived by her husband, Simon, and their teenage children, Hugo and Ella, her sister Naomi, and her parents.
FLORENCE REEVES - CEO of Buqa (2003 Leaver)
Florence initially worked in the City for around ten years, before leaving to set up Buqa.
Buqa has two divisions; Buqa Couture (ethical, sustainable fashion) and Buqa Woman, a philanthropic women’s network. Buqa Woman aims to connect inspirational women via events, publishing unique stories/profiles, promoting women’s charities and promoting women’s work within cultural, corporate and public organisations internationally.
EMINE ALI RUSHTON - Health and Wellbeing Journalist
“I had a really fantastic time at school, I made many friends for life and had some phenomenal teachers. I recall the continual laughter and high spirits in the sixth form common room, competing in the Kent County Championships with the netball team, acting in school plays, directing the sixth form revue, attending a leadership conference with Nicola Horlick, with other GDST head girls... I'd be keen to visit when my little girl reaches school age, to see if Blackheath High still possesses it's unique laid-back, warm and welcoming spirit!”
Born and raised in London, where she still lives, Emine Ali Rushton graduated in 2002 with a first class BA degree in English Literature, from Durham University. After two years of work experience across various titles, including Vogue, Harvey Nichols Magazine and SHE, she began freelancing as a beauty writer. Now, with eight years of experience across beauty, health, trend and wellbeing journalism, she has written for a wealth of different titles that span the publishing spectrum – everything from ELLE, i-D, NYLON and ZEST to Weekend Magazine, Metro and The London Lite – the latter was home to her health and beauty column ‘SPA SECRETS’ which ran daily for 2 years. She is also a keen blogger and is founder and author of: ‘Miss Malcontent Seeks Truth in Beauty’ and ‘we make up as we go along’.”
Her most recent staff role was at the Conde Nast-distributed title, GLASS – a lifestyle title focused on ‘sustainable luxury.’ Aiming to strike the perfect balance between intelligent debate, innovative design and sustainable ethics and ethos, it prides itself on producing ‘smart beauty’ features – an ethos that Emine holds dear, and aims to champion in her new appointment – as beauty director of the Hachette monthly, PSYCHOLOGIES.
DR SARAH JL PAYNE BSc (Hons) PhD MRCP (UK) - Specialist Registrar (SPR) in Medical Oncology
After completing A-levels, Sarah went straight on to study Medicine at UCL, achieving a first class Honours in her Intercalated BSc and final MBBS exams. She went on to complete her junior doctor training in a number of London hospitals, during which time she made a decision to specialise in Oncology. She started her specialist registrar (SPR) training in Medical Oncology at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in 2003. She was awarded an MRC grant to complete a PhD in breast cancer during her training, which she successfully completed in 2010.
Sarah most recently transferred to Guys and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in March 2014, to gain valuable experience working in another centre of excellence. Sarah successfully completed her training in January 2015 and was appointed a post CCT fellow at Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital with a specialist interest in education. She was simultaneously appointed as undergraduate lead in clinical skills development for the Trust and oncology lead for undergraduate curriculum development. Sarah is currently looking to apply for a consultant position, hopefully in London, and is very keen to continue and develop her education role alongside her clinical work.
“My interest in teaching and education has very much been influenced by my time as a pupil at BHS, and the extensive opportunities I had to lead and teach. I particularly remember organising the Science Society and seeing the enjoyment of the other pupils when we ran sessions on “Bubbles” and the “Science of the Flame”.
Sarah is married to Iain Soulsby, a local dentist, and they two daughters, Charlotte who is still at nursery, and Emily, who is at Blackheath High Junior School. Both Iain and Sarah are very active on the BHS Parents Association and Sarah is also Vice-Chairman of our Old Girls’ Association.
“It is lovely to see that the atmosphere is still warm, friendly and personal as well as supportive of individual development and achievement. It has been fantastic to stay connected with the school and watch Emily, and soon Charlotte to have the opportunity to be part of such a wonderful school community” says Sarah.
GERALDINE COOPER – Broadcast Journalist (1991 - 1998)
“Blackheath High is a friendly, warm school and although I left more than a decade ago, I still have fond memories of Blackheath High and regularly meet up with lots of the old girls from my year, many of whom are very close friends to this day.
After taking 10 GCSEs, I went on to study for 3 A Levels in French, German and English. I was also the Deputy Head Girl. The teaching and support I got at Blackheath High - particularly from my Modern Languages teachers - helped me to achieve the best possible grades and I went on to study French and German at Exeter College, Oxford University."
After leaving Oxford, Geraldine completed a post-graduate diploma in Broadcast Journalism and started work as a radio journalist, working primarily for Capital Radio and its affiliate stations. She then moved over to work in TV at ITN, where she reported on the US presidential election and the death of Michael Jackson. She now works at Sky News, as a member of the World News team, covering international stories for a global audience.
JO TONGUE – TV and Radio Producer and Talent Agent (1989 TO 1996)
"The friends I made at Blackheath High are the friends I will have for life. The experiences and confidence instilled in me while I was there were second to none. How I miss schooldays!
You learn things at BHS which stay with you for life – an inner confidence you didn’t know you had, a drive to be the best at whatever you turn your hand to and most importantly – lasting friendships. My neighbours and holiday companions now, are the friends I made in the Upper Third in 1989!”
Jo left Blackheath High in 1996 and she went on to join the BBC through BBC Talent in 2000.
Jo has been a Producer for eight years and has worked on programmes such as Wright and Bright, Baker and Kelly, Fighting Talk and she produced the Eamonn Holmes Show for three years. Jo moved into TV and worked on Inside Sport (BBC1) before going to Tanzania for the World Service to teach media skills to footballers. She has been the Executive Producer on 606 for BBC Radio 5 live for two years and is also a talent agent for ex-footballers and their media work.
JOSIE DELAP – Political Journalist (2000 TO 2006)
“My time at Blackheath High was an overwhelmingly positive experience. I was delighted to be invited to become a Governor and make an on-going contribution to the life of the school. I am, therefore, looking forward in particular to assisting the school in its continuing engagement with the local community and the broader world.”
After leaving Blackheath High School in 2006, Josie studied Arabic and French at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. As part of her course, she spent a year studying in Cairo. Following graduation, she worked for the Arab International Women's Forum, an organisation that promotes women's political, economic and social involvement in the Middle East. Josie went on to do an MPhil in Modern Middle East Studies at St Antony's College, Oxford where she focused on Iran. As part of her studies, she learned Persian and spent several months in Iran. On leaving Oxford, Josie started work at The Economist, writing daily news and analysis for the website. She is now the online Middle East and Africa Editor and writes regularly for the magazine about the Middle East, Africa and international human rights.
LIBBY RICHARDSON – Dentistry Student (2008 TO 2010)
“I spent 11 happy, challenging years at Blackheath High in an environment in which I felt wholly supported and encouraged. The academic support and Higher Education opportunities available to us all were fantastic. Another benefit was the eclectic mix of extracurricular activities on offer, especially the Duke of Edinburgh Award. The teachers were able to pass on invaluable advice and guidance which has undoubtedly helped me get to where I am today. I cannot express how well this set me up for the exciting prospect of University and the wider world beyond.”
Libby has just finished her first undergraduate year at King’s College London studying Dentistry and she loves what she is doing at the moment. She would like to thank her teachers for all their encouraging words and advice with mock interviews, work experience and careers guidance which all helped to cement her determination to follow this path.
LINDA AYOOLA – Accounting and Financial Management graduate (2000 TO 2006)
“Being Head Girl made me realise that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. I can honestly say that BHS was indeed a stepping-stone for university life and my career. It provided me with the study skills I needed to attain a 2.1, as well as instilling the spirit of endurance, determination and willpower I would need to go far in my career.”
Linda is an Accounting and Financial Management graduate from the University of Sheffield; she was very eager to break into the world of Banking and Financial Services. This ambition and motivation led her to apply to the graduate programmes offered by banks and various companies and she started her career at RBS. She currently works in the Mergers and Acquisitions team overseeing the deal involving the acquisition of RBS branches by Santander. Prior to working for RBS she worked for Santander as a Credit Card Analyst and before that she undertook an internship at MySpace in their Finance Department.
LOIS EDMETT (1996 to 2010)
“Staying at Blackheath High for sixth form was honestly one of the best decisions I have ever made. Being in the sixth form is completely different to the lower school and offers many new challenges. I benefited from a freedom to manage my own studies (which put me in good stead for Uni) and from the smaller class sizes meaning I received almost individual tutoring and mentoring.
I had so much fun at Blackheath High! It really felt like a family in the sixth form area rather than a school. There's a relaxed intimacy to the environment which really made me feel safe. For the rest of your life you'll be competing with large crowds for everything- make the most of the individual attention Blackheath can afford to give you. You won't have it again!
I discovered that one of the easiest ways to make friends in freshers week is to mention you're a GDST girl! I bonded with so many people over the shared experience of studying under the GDST banner- it was a great ice breaker!”
Lois is now studying English Literature at Durham University. She believes that the skills and advice she received from Blackheath High School helped her to win her much coveted place at Durham. And that the extracurricular activities she took part in such as; Duke of Edinburgh, numerous sports, fashion shows, bands, orchestras, drama and so on helped her UCAS application to stand out and gave her something unusual to talk about.
MARY QUANT OBE, FCSD (born 11 February 1934)
SOPHIE ALDRED - Actress and TV Presenter (1973-1980)
MARGARET ANN JAY, BARONESS JAY OF PADDINGTON, PC (born 18 November 1939) British politician for the Labour Party
HELEN LEDERER - Comedien
KATIE STEWART (1934-2014)
On leaving Blackheath High School, Olivia studied Law with Law Studies in Europe at Jesus College, Oxford (including a year spent in Paris studying French law). She then worked in The Hague as a legal intern at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and as a law clerk in the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court. She returned to London, where she trained as a solicitor at a leading City law firm, spending six months in the Paris office and qualifying into the corporate department. Olivia is currently working as a judicial assistant in the Court of Appeal.
SHARON MASSEY, Bexley Councillor and Mayor of Bexley (2013-14)
Sharon was offered an assisted scholarship at Blackheath High School. She says: "That wonderful opportunity has remained with me throughout my life. I will forever be grateful for the education opportunities that gave me."
After leaving school, Sharon headed for the City in a clerical role, and at 23 years old, she was appointed to the management team of her organisation as a financial adviser. After focusing on raising her family, she decided to stand as a local Conservative Councillor in Bexleyheath and was subsequently elected. Sharon entered politics to help make her community a great place, where people could be proud to raise their families. Sharon now represents Danson Park Ward, and became the London Borough of Bexley's 50th Mayor in 2013.
Sharon takes an active interest in Health and Social Care issues within Bexley Borough. Sharon was Bexley's Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care (Adult Social Care) from 2006 to 2009, and this interest has been furthered by her current job, teaching the subject to students at Northfleet Girls School. Sharon graduated with a BA Hons in Social Care from Greenwich University in 2010. After passing her teaching qualification (PGCE) in 2011, she gained employment at NEWTEC, a subsidiary of Newham College, where she had been previously on placement.
In her year as Mayor, Councillor Sharon Massey raised £55,000 for local charities and confirmed her determination to support her residents to remain well and independent in their own homes. Following her year as Mayor, Sharon embarked on a new venture, opening Supreme Home Care in Bexley, as Director of Care. Supreme Home Care provides professional home care for people who wish to live as independently as possible at home: www.supreme-homecare.com/bexley
Soosan Lolavar, composer and sound artist, lives and works in London.
Her early musical exploits were firmly based in the classical tradition as an oboist and composer. On embarking on an undergraduate degree in Social and Political Sciences at the University of Cambridge she began to explore computer-aided composition and the musical potential of electronic and ambient sounds. Later, while reading for a masters in Musicology at the University of Oxford she continued her compositional work and focused her academic interests on the social and cultural study of popular music.
She is currently undertaking the MMus composition course studying with Dominic Murcott at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. She is the recipient of the Gladys Bratton Scholarship and TCM Trust Scholarship 2011-2012 and also received the John Halford Prize for composition 2012. http://www.soosanlolavar.com/?p=934
Soosan 's recent classical Anglo-Iranian composition, 'Only Sound Remains' was featured on the BBC News website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-27439043
She has been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study in the States in 2016 and has recently embarked on a new project: https://www.facebook.com/londonsinfonietta
BETH WILLISBBE sSKATIE STEWART sh Dominique Oliver (now Mrs Unsworth) Dominique Oliver (now Mrs Unsworth) DOMINIQUDOMINIQUE OLIVER (MRS UNSWORTH)
Dominique was at both the Junior and Senior School until 1996 when she went on to Royal Holloway, University of London to do Classical Studies. Upon completing her BA, she set up her business, Resource Productions (a film and video production company), becoming a Member of the Institute of Directors at barely 30 years old.
Through her film & video production company and youth services in conjunction with the Local Authority, she has dedicated a lot of time not only helping community groups in her local area but also spends considerable time helping and supporting young people; running workshops and training them into the film industry leading to awards at Film Festivals as far away as Australia; setting up a Youth Film Charity. Two years running she made Top 100 Apprentices Employer of the Year in the UK, winning regional last year in the Small Business Category. Her business works in partnership with Pinewood and Shepperton Studios. Despite this busy workload and her voluntary work, and lecturing at University, Dominique also found time to pursue her personal development by completing an MBA earlier this year.
Dominique was named in the 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, receiving a BEM for her services to young people, community groups and the Arts.
Shivon has just completed her first year at King’s College London studying English Language and Literature, and is incredibly happy with her course. Alongside English, she is also reading BSc Psychology at the University of Derby as a distance learning course and has completed a diploma in Reflexology.
Shivon has published her first book 'Wolves Within', a story of a young girl looking to avenge the death of her mother. After doing five A-levels, Shivon developed a morbid fear of having any free time on her hands. By plunging straight into the first of her trilogy ‘Prism of Truth’, Shivon not only avoided boredom, but also discovered a way to tell the story of the harsh realities of our society; of merciless wolves and innocent sheep.
“As one of my teachers from BHS recently reminisced, I barely knew how to string two words of English together when I first joined the junior school in Year 6 – now I’m somehow the author of a novel, ‘Wolves Within’! There’s no doubt in my mind that a large part of this feat is due to my eight years spent at BHS. It was the constant support and encouragement from my wonderful teachers and the warm, friendly and intellectually stimulating environment that is a unique characteristic of Blackheath High which instilled in me the self-confidence I sorely needed. I’m eternally grateful to all those at BHS who encouraged and helped me to achieve this dream opportunity, especially to Mr Parsons, Assistant Head, who first taught me the joy of writing. Those years at BHS were the best of my life, and my only complaint is that they passed by too quickly!”
Shivon's first book was released in August 2014 and is available for pre-order at www.shivonsudesh.com
The 'Prism of Truth' Facebook page can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/prism.of.truth.trilogy
sharroshBeth (born in 1978) is a television producer, although she has worked as a script editor on Agatha Christie's Poirot and The Amazing Mrs Pritchard.