Alumnae Through the Decades

Page 1




GIRLS FIRST A BRIEF HISTORY OF OUR SCHOOL Newcastle High School for Girls was launched in September 2014 and builds on the unique strengths of each of its founding schools. Both Church High School and Central Newcastle High School were founded on an ethos of providing the very best education for girls, and both were known equally for their academic excellence, pastoral care and support. Moreover, both schools should be recognised as the powerful agents for change that they were in challenging and redefining the role of women. In the late 19th Century, together the GDST and the Church Schools Company were very much part of the advance movement of the education of girls. Prior to that, the majority of girls of the upper and middle classes were educated at home. A very few Convent schools had existed since the Middle Ages, but it was not until the late eighteenth century that they began to increase

in number and more girls began to attend. Even then they were small, varied greatly in the qualifications of those who ran them, but were generally consistent in the poor quality of the education provided which laid greater stress on accomplishments than sound learning. The teaching was little, if any, better than that offered to children taught at home by ill-paid governesses who had themselves been badly taught, and who were now teaching other children simply because it was almost the only permissible way for a gentlewoman to earn her own living. These schools at that time certainly did not attempt to equip pupils for any future but marriage and hardly that, for the domestic virtues and accomplishments had lost favour in many of the fashionable schools; excellence in plain sewing, cookery and housewifery which had been the pride of the women of the seventeenth century had

been smothered under the desire of frills and smart accomplishments in the early nineteenth. Educating girls was generally held to be at best a waste of time and money and at worst there was a very real concern that those girls who were allowed to use their brains, to read and think for themselves, would be robbed of all feminine charm and grace and become socially suspect. It took many years for this idea to die and that it eventually did so is largely due to the work of the schools of the GPDST and the Church Schools Company. The 1851 census identified that there were between five hundred thousand and one million more women than men. The figures caused moral and social panic, with the widespread belief that there would be large numbers of unmarried women who would either live in misery and poverty or must rely on their own earnings. The need for high-quality academic education for girls was recognised as a major social


Gateshead High School is established by the GPDST


Newcastle High School for Girls is established by the CSC


Newcastle High School for Girls relocates to new, purpose-built building on Tankerville Terrace.

issue. Combined with the emergent women’s movement this made fertile ground for the reform of girls’ education. In 1872 the Girls’ Public Day School Company (GPDSC) was created to establish good and affordable academic day schools for girls of all classes above the level of elementary education. GPDSC schools were nondenominational and it was the desire for schools of a similar nature with teaching according the principles of the Church of England which directly led to the formation of the Church Schools’ Company (CSC) shortly afterwards in 1883. In 1876 Gateshead High School was established by the GPDSC in Prospect Cottage, Bensham and in 1884 the CSC’s Newcastle High School for Girls on Jesmond Road, Newcastle. The Church Schools Company expanded rapidly, opening schools in Durham and Sunderland as well as removing Newcastle

High School for Girls to a new, purpose-built site on Tankerville Terrace. Pupil numbers at the GPDSC School in Gateshead began to decline as a result. Miss Cooper, the incumbent headmistress at Gateshead High School was determined that the solution was to open a feeder school in Newcastle and so a Preparatory School was opened on Eskdale Terrace. The preparatory school was a success but failed to act as a feeder school to Gateshead High School, partly due to the fact that it was located in an area that was becoming increasingly distressed and undesirable. In 1885 The GPDSC decided to open the Preparatory School as a full High School, the Central Newcastle High School. Gateshead High School struggled on until 1907 when it was finally closed and the majority of the remaining girls on the register transferred to Central Newcastle High School.


The GPDSC offers to buy Newcastle High School for Girls new building on Tankerville Terrace, the offer is declined.


Gateshead High School open a co-educational preparatory feeder school for Gateshead High School on Eskdale Terrace.


Gateshead High School closed in favour of the Jesmond based School, the Central Newcastle High School.


Newcastle High School for Girls decentralised administration from the Church Schools Company in London.


Central Newcastle High School for Girls is renamed The Girls High School Newcastle upon Tyne.

5 WHAT’S IN A NAME? 1911

The Girls High School Newcastle upon Tyne returns to its original name, Central Newcastle High School for Girls following objection by the Church Schools Company.


Newcastle High School for Girls became a self-governing independent Church School and was renamed The Newcastle upon Tyne Church High School.


NCHS Evacuated to Alnwick and CNHS to Keswick.


CNHS merges with St. Margaret’s High School Gosforth. Due to the wartime difficulties blue and brown uniforms, or even particoloured were allowed.


NCHS Returns to Tankerville Terrace.


Boys no longer attend Junior School CNHS


Following discussions, NCHS and CNHS agree to join together to form one leading girls’ school.


NCHS and CNHS merge to become NHSG.

A natural rivalry between the CSC’s Newcastle High School for Girls and the GPDSC’s Central Newcastle High School existed from the outset. The three schools founded in the North East by the CSC had certainly damaged pupil numbers at the GPDSC’s Gateshead High. Equally the CSC’s Newcastle High School for Girls must have been irritated by the establishment of the new GPDSC High School within such close proximity in Jesmond - particularly as the GPDSC offered to buy the new purposebuilt Newcastle High School for Girls’ building on Tankerville Terrace from the Church Schools Company in order to house their new school, an offer that was politely declined. Further encroachment into the CSC’s Newcastle High School for Girls was made in 1910 when the GPDSC changed Central Newcastle High School’s name to ‘The Girls High School Newcastle’. A year later it was unsurprisingly forced to revert back to Central Newcastle High School as a result of objections raised by the CSC. Shortly afterwards however, Newcastle High School for Girls became a self-governing independent Church School and was renamed The Newcastle upon Tyne Church High School. The disputed name was brought out of retirement when the two schools finally merged and Newcastle High School for Girls as we now know it was

established in 2014. The historic rivalry between the two schools is well known and vigorous competition existed throughout their histories in both the academic and sporting fields. While in competition with each other however, both schools were striving towards a single purpose, that of the advancement of female education and the emancipation of women. Both Schools were forward thinking educational pioneers and should be given credit for their contribution in revolutionising female education. While promoting the ideology of duty and homemaking, the Schools convinced even the most conservative parents that their education would greatly enrich their daughters’ lives but would not challenge the accepted role of the middle-class woman as wife and mother. This did not take into account the girls themselves who, provided with a space and time outside the home, were able to move beyond the limits set by their elders. School facilitated serious study, constant characterbuilding and aspirational thinking. Pupils became confident, self-reliant and courageous young women eager to utilise their education to greater purpose.


Central and Church sought to produce girls not only capable of economic independence but who would prove ‘useful’ members of society. Both Schools were committed to forming girls of sound character, who understood that what made a girl was not a wealthy home or cultured background but the personal integrity of the girl herself. Emphasis was laid on social duty and the Schools led by example, offering scholarships and bursaries to girls with potential without the necessary financial means to otherwise attend the school. Girls were made to understand that their education was to help them benefit others and they would be measured by their

positive influence on the world beyond the school gates. Over the past 140 years the Church and Central High Schools have withstood some extraordinary challenges. War, pandemics, economic depression, strikes, nuclear threat and extraordinary social change have all been met with the adaptability, courage, and resilience that have characterised our schools. Frozen ink wells, gas lighting of dubious safety and the inflexible rule of silence everywhere and at all times (so strict that on occasion children that became lost in the school building remained so rather than risk speaking) have

long since departed, but the core principles of our founding schools remain in NHSG today. We are immensely proud of our heritage, of Central Newcastle High School and Newcastle Church High School and the intelligent, fearless young women they taught, who grasped the opportunities offered to them and played a vital part in the emancipation of women. The spirit and achievements of our founding schools and our alumnae inform and influence the School we are today.

Sources: The Centenary Book of the Newcastle upon Tyne Church High School 1885 - 1985 Various Contributors: Wards Dunston Tyne & Wear Publication Date: 1985; The Newcastle upon Tyne Church High School Jubilee 1885 - 1935 Andrew Reid & Company Ltd Newcastle upon Tyne and London Publication Date: 1935; History Of Gateshead High School 1876-1907 And Central Newcastle High School 18951955 By Carter, Olive (Author) G F Laybourne & Co. Ltd , Publication Date: 1955


We hope you enjoy reading about some of the fascinating and remarkable women that have passed through the doors of our Schools through the decades. The information in this publication has been researched as thoroughly as possible using the information available from a variety of sources in the public domain or where possible by speaking to the individuals featured. We know that we have only captured a handful of the very many notable women who attended our schools, and we are continuing our work to find more of our alumnae. We would be delighted to hear from you if you have more information about the alumnae included here or would like to suggest other notable women that you think should be included in this collection.



Gateshead High School Alumna 1870s Headmistress Alice Morison was a pupil at Gateshead High School and after leaving, immediately entered into employment as Headmistress of another GDST School, Blackheath High, before taking up the same role at Truro High School in Cornwall in 1896. Described as ‘thoroughly a Headmistress in appearance and bearing and in her powers of decision and initiative’, Alice Morison was forward thinking. She believed in giving wider experiences and opportunities to the girls and one of her first moves at Truro was to introduce the teaching of mechanics.

Alice spent 12 years at Truro until in 1908 she accepted the role of Headmistress of the Francis Holland School for Girls in London. London proved a challenging place after Cornwall and Alice found the city claustrophobic describing a: ‘caged feeling of having no open space, one could get into the areas only by climbing through the windows, as I proved in seeing what could be done in case of fire’. She also found disparity between the rich and poor difficult but understood that her position presented an opportunity to teach her wealthy pupils social sympathy.

Alice Morison also understood the need for ‘a good secondary education at low fees’ for the bright and capable girls unable to afford Truro High School and so established the Branch School where fees were set low to give girls from less affluent families access to a good education. Scholarships supported by local philanthropists were offered each year to enable girls of sufficient ability to pass into Truro High School with no fee increase.

On August 4th, 1914, Great Britain declared war on Germany. Fathers, brothers, cousins and friends were at the front. Alice mobilised the School, there were sewing parties, knitting for soldiers, making of bandages and collecting sphagnum moss (used during WWI, dried sphagnum promotes antisepsis and can absorb up to twenty times its own volume of liquids, such as blood). During the School holidays from 1916 - 1918

Alice volunteered as a farm hand, working from 6am to 11pm. She kept the School open through rationing and air raids, instilling unshakeable self-control in her pupils as they continued with their evening prayers while the bombs rained down around them. ‘I think the Germans would find it difficult to understand the British psychology, which did not hesitate to send children from comparatively safe places to the danger-zone, for tried and valued opportunities of education’. It is thanks to her efforts that the Francis Holland School survives today. In 1921 the School’s lease lapsed and £20,000 was needed to keep the School from closing. Fairs, lectures, concerts, appeals and even an auction involving a guinea pig secured the funds to keep the School open. Her indomitable spirit and vision continues to be celebrated by the Francis Holland School for Girls as she is remembered in their annual ‘Morison Verse Competition’ and lessons continue in the Morrison Building.

Source: Graham Street Memories: Francis Holland Church of England School for Girls, Jubilee 1881-1931 by Beatrix (Ed.) DUNNING (Author). Publisher : Hazell, Watson & Viney; 1st ed. Edition (January 1, 1931)


Alice Rose Morison Francis Holland School Prize Day 1931


EDITH MULLEN (nee Brentnall) Newcastle High School for Girls Alumna 1880s Adventurer and WW1 Nurse Edith had a great sense of adventure and Newcastle High School for Girls (former name of Newcastle Upon Tyne Church High School) received several missives from her describing her experiences. Her first submission was sent from safari in British East Africa. The expedition set off on the 1st July 1914 from Molo to Hama, an eight day journey by trek and boat with seventy porters carrying their equipment. By 8th July, having passed the night under single skin canvas due to a violent thunderstorm preventing them from pitching camp they set off to ‘get something for the pot’. Sustained by gifts of milk, water and firewood from the local chief they set off in pursuit of game. Their hunt took them to Chadha where the local townspeople asked for help with a herd of rhino that were bothering them: ‘Billy and I took our rifles and started off. We got on their fresh spoor and had a long, tiring, track through the forest, crawling under the undergrowth, etc. just then we heard a rhino call and another answer. We got on to some

high stones and looked round, and spotted one feeding under a big tree on the edge of the forest on the far side of the valley: we couldn't see five yards in front of us: both of us with our rifles at full cock crept quietly along, listening for the slightest sound to give us an idea of the beast's whereabouts, when all of a sudden there was a terrific snort not seven yards in front of us and we just caught sight of a pair of huge ears in time to pull up our rifles and fire where we expected the head was, just as it charged…we both fired and it turned, fortunately for us’. In early September the expedition reached Nairobi where they discovered that war had been declared and the city was under martial law. Edith’s husband enlisted and Edith immediately volunteered as a nurse. Assigned to the Red Cross Hospital in Plevjlie, Montenegro she served as sister-in-charge of all the medical and infectious wards as well as the laundries and linen. Edith describes the work as being that of two capable women and points out that while it might not sound like much on paper, if anything goes wrong with the

Source: Newcastle High School Magazines, Issues 33, 39

laundry and linen the whole hospital is put out of action. The work was tough and the weather cold, damp and inhospitable but Edith kept herself going with regular doses of ‘quinine, aspirin and hot brandy’. The hospital was evacuated in November with the advance of the Bulgarian and Austro-German Armies. Edith was decorated by the king of Montenegro with the gold medal of the Order of Danilo, and by the Queen of Montenegro with the gold medal, the Montenegrin Red Cross. Edith’s next adventure took her to Russia. She and her fellow nurses, consigned as ‘goods’, travelled from Liverpool to Moscow, Odessa and then up the Delta of the Danube to Izmail where they were subject to repeated air raids. Edith was awarded the Russian medal for services rendered at great personal risk. She survived to return to the School and deliver a lecture about her adventures in 1918.


Voluntary Aid Detachment recruitment poster WW1


ETHEL MARY NUCELLA WILLIAMS Norwich Alumna and Gateshead High School Doctor 1880s Doctor, Suffragist and Social Reformer Dr Ethel Williams was Newcastle’s first female general medical practitioner, a radical suffragist, pacifist and social welfare campaigner. Born in Cromer, Norfolk, in 1863, Ethel was educated at the GPDST’s Norwich High School for Girls and Newnham College, Cambridge where she was permitted only to attend lectures but not to graduate. Women were not permitted to train in British hospitals so Ethel gained her experience in Vienna and Paris. She was able to return to the UK to complete her studies at the recently established London School of Medicine for Women in 1891. She began her medical career as resident medical officer at the Clapham Maternity Hospital and at the Blackfriars Dispensary for Women and Children. Ethel then moved to Newcastle where she became the city’s first woman doctor, the first to set up a general medical practice and the first school doctor for Gateshead High School. Ethel was an extraordinary, determined woman with a strong belief in social medicine. At her own expense she provided milk for infants to reduce Newcastle’s appalling

rate of infant mortality. She contributed to the Report of the Royal Commission on the Poor Laws and Relief of Distress and helped initiate residential care for boys with learning disabilities. Ethel also co-founded the Northern Women’s Hospital (now the Nuffield Health Clinic on Osborne Road) and the Medical Women’s Federation, today the largest and most influential body of women doctors in the UK. Ethel distinguished herself in 1906 by being one of the first women in the North of England to drive a motorcar. Transport to her patients was vital to delivering care and also proved invaluable in mobilising movements in pursuit of her political aims. The challenges Ethel faced in gaining her medical education, coupled with her belief that social reform was integral to improving care, inspired her to become increasingly politically active. Ethel was a member of the Liberal Party, Newcastle’s Literary and Philosophical Society, a Justice of the Peace, and chair of the North East Society for Women’s Suffrage. As a suffragist, she served as

Source: British Medical Journal 1948. Newcastle University Special Collections.

Secretary of the Newcastle Women’s Liberal Association and became president of the Newcastle and District Women’s Suffrage Society, attending the infamous ‘Mud March’ of 1907. Her suffragist banner is one of the treasures of Newcastle University Library’s Special Collections. As a pacifist, she was a founding member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and found herself a subject of great interest to Special Branch. Ethel concerned herself primarily with the health needs of women and children and she firmly believed education was key to social reform. Her involvement with Gateshead High School reached far beyond providing medical attention. She was a familiar figure at the School, frequently delivering lectures, donating and presenting prizes and hosting events at her home. She was, until her death in 1948 a very influential and inspirational member of the School community.



Ethel Mary Nucella Williams Portrait Newcastle University Special Collections


SOPHIE ATKINSON Church High School Alumna 1890s Artist Sophia Mildred Atkinson was an English watercolour landscape painter and illustrator. She was born in Newcastle upon Tyne on the 28th November 1876 into a family of artists.

describing in detail a way of life no longer in existence. An Artist in Corfu inspired the Durrell family to move to Corfu where Gerald Durrell’s much loved My Family and Other Animals described their life there.

Calgary, Ottawa and Montreal, painting watercolours of the magnificent scenery in return for free travel. Cole Harris described the artist when she visited his family’s cabin in the Kootenay Mountains:

Sophie’s talent was nurtured at Church High School before she went on to study at the Newcastle School of Art, Armstrong College. Here, Sophie studied under R.G. Hutton and later at the influential Sir Hubert von Herkomer School near London. Sir Hubert was a Germanborn distinguished painter, playwright, actor, composer and film director. His work left its impression on many, from Queen Victoria, who honoured him with a knighthood, to Vincent van Gogh, who acknowledged him as an inspiration.

After WW1 Sophie travelled extensively, visiting India, Denmark, Dresden, the Tyrol, California and eventually Canada in 1924. At this time the Canadian Pacific Railway Company (CPR) was offering one of the largest and earliest corporate patronage campaigns. The great transcontinental railway, an extraordinary feat of engineering, was completed in 1885, linking Eastern and Western Canada. The economic survival of the CPR depended on the successful settlement and commercial development of the vast plain between Portage la Prairie and the Rocky Mountains. The CPR offered free transportation to any artist or writer who would serve the CPR’s interests by producing work that showed the Canadian North West in a favourable light, serving as an advertising campaign for the Company. Sophie travelled throughout Canada from British Columbia to

‘Sophie Atkinson was a tiny English lady with enormous energy who, as far as I could see, lived on lettuce and grapes. She was a watercolourist and would set off each morning with a large easel and bundle of supplies altogether out of proportion with her size’.

At the turn of the century Atkinson lived in Corfu; the result was the book An Artist in Corfu, a beautifully observed account of life on the island illustrated with her own watercolours. Copies of the book were accepted by both the Kaiser and the King at the time and it is now regarded as an important publication,

Sophie eventually settled in Revelstoke, British Columbia in 1949. Sophie was an adventurous woman and an accomplished artist who loved the natural world. Her work received recognition at exhibitions in British Columbia, Montreal, Calgary and Revelstoke in Canada, and in London and Newcastle upon Tyne in England.

Sources: Michael Haag, Historian and Biographer. Revelstoke Museum, British Columbia. Ranch in the Slocan: A Biography of a Kootenay Farm, 1896–2017 Cole Harris (Author). Wikipedia.


Sophie Atkinson portrait Revelstoke Museum collection


ANNE BEATRICE FRASER (nee Glass) Gateshead High School Alumna 1890s Missionary and Educator (Anne) Beatrice Glass graduated from Gateshead High School in 1896. She went on to Cambridge University where she completed two years at Newnham College before volunteering with the Student Missionary Union. Female Church Missionaries endured great hardship – dispatched across the world, armed only with a strong faith and courageous spirit they faced unimaginable poverty, disease, kidnappings and rejection of their Christian message. Where they excelled however, was in social reform and Anne Beatrice Glass should be remembered for her lasting contribution to education in Africa. The Church Missionary Society accepted Beatrice’s application and sent her to Mengo, Uganda and in January 1899 she sailed for Mombasa. From there she travelled by train to the railhead at Nairobi and the rest of the distance was covered on foot or by bicycle, with porters following with all the belongings and tents so Beatrice and her travelling companions could pitch camp

each night. Shortly after her arrival she met and married Alexander Garden Fraser in 1901 and the pair began a life devoted to education, travelling the world and spending time in South India, the Caribbean, Ceylon, Fraser’s native Scotland and in 1924 to the African Gold Coast where they co-founded the Prince of Wales College, Achimota with Dr. James Emman Kwegyir Aggrey and the incumbent British Governor of the Gold Coast, Sir Gordon Guggisberg. It was founded as an elite secondary school based on the British model of public education, with one fundamental difference. It would teach all pupils regardless of race or gender and African members of staff would occupy an equal position to Europeans. Fighting racism, harsh criticism and acts of vandalism, the Frasers hammered nails, scrubbed floors and washed windows to open the school in 1924. The ideals upon which Achimota was founded were profoundly influenced by the

Sources: Achimota School archive. Wikipedia.

Frasers and it continues to thrive today, offering ‘an equal opportunity for boys and girls’. The motto of the school is Ut Omnes Unum Sint – ‘That they may all be one’, a reference to the founders’ expressed philosophy that starting in the context of school life, black and white, male and female, everyone should integrate and combine synergistically for the good of all. The stylised piano key design of the Achimota School crest was described by Aggrey at the time: ‘You can play a tune of sorts on the black keys only; and you can play a tune of sorts on the white keys only, but for perfect harmony you must use both the black and the white keys.’ Beatrice and Alek’s ideals of friendship, respect and co-operation among all races on equal terms continue to influence the culture of a continent as many of Africa’s most prominent leaders have received their education at Achimota.


Beatrice and Alec Fraser Achimota Founders Day Celebrations 1954 Achimota School Archive


RUTH NICHOLSON Church High School Alumna 1900s Fellow and Founding Member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Ruth Nicholson was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1884 and educated at Newcastle Church High School before going on to Durham University College of Medicine where she graduated in 1909 as the only female student in her year. Female doctors at the time could treat only women and children and so Ruth found work as an assistant to Elsie Inglis, gynaecologist and suffragist, at the Edinburgh Hospital for Women and Children. Frustrated at the limitations imposed on female doctors she volunteered as a missionary doctor in a field hospital in Gaza, Palestine. Here she gained surgical experience, which was to prove invaluable at the outbreak of the First World War. The War Office accepted her offer to serve as a field surgeon. But her hopes were dashed when just before her departure to France from Victoria Station, the doctor of the unit she had joined refused to take a female doctor. Nicholson was not the only female doctor to face rejection, Ruth’s former colleague Elsie Inglis offered her all femalestaffed hospital unit to the war

effort. The War Office’s reply is legendary `my dear lady, go home and sit still’. But the French Government accepted Inglis’ offer and so The Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service (SWH) equipped and ran fourteen units across Europe during the First World War. Ruth joined the SWH as a surgeon at the Royaumont Hospital established in an abandoned abbey near Paris. She became second-incommand of the unit under the chief medical officer Frances Ivens, with whom she shared the bulk of the major surgical workload. It became the largest and busiest volunteer field hospital and the work was predominantly surgical because of its close proximity to the Front. There was no possibility of transferring patients to other nearby hospitals and patient load was occasionally extreme. During the Battle of the Somme, the surgeons and doctors worked for eight days with a total of only 16 hours of sleep. Electricity was at times intermittent and surgeries were performed by candlelight.

experience and was an extremely popular leader. The staff at Royaumont treated over 10,000 patients during the War and reported better mortality rates than its militaryrun equivalents. Ruth was awarded the Croix de Guerre medal in 1918. The necessity of providing the country with doctors forced the medical profession to allow women access to schools previously the preserve of men. Ruth and the other extraordinary female doctors who faced the horrors of the battlefield with bravery and excellence brought extraordinary gains for women doctors. Ruth went on to become a founder member and Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (FRCOG) and the first woman president of the North of England Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. She retired to South Devon and died in 1963.

Ruth provided crucial medical expertise, field hospital

Sources: Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Archive. Wikipedia. British Medical Journal. Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh. Newcastle University Special Collections.


Ruth Nicholson Portrait Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Archive


RACHEL MARY PARSONS Central High School Alumna 1900s Engineer Rachel Parsons was one of the most remarkable and trailblazing women of her generation. From both sides of her family Rachel inherited brilliance, ingenuity and a fearless iconoclasm. She demonstrated an aptitude for science from early childhood and in 1910 she became the first woman to read Mechanical Sciences at Cambridge University. The daughter of Charles Parsons, who, amongst many world-changing creations, built Turbinia, now housed in Newcastle’s Discovery Museum. Rachel was on board Turbinia when it set the world record for the fastest ship, and the first powered by steam in 1897. When War broke out in August 1914 her brother joined the Royal Field Artillery and Rachel took his place as Director of her Father’s Newcastle based Engineering firm, C.A. Parsons. She was instrumental in instructing the thousands of women in the factories of Tyneside who took the place of

fighting men and who learned to perform a multitude of mechanical tasks, everything from assembling aircraft parts to installing electrical wiring on battleships. Some 800,000 women were recruited into Britain’s engineering works during the war, reflecting a much larger increase of female employees than in any other trade or profession. An infamous deal between the Government and Trade Unions meant that at the end of the war all women in engineering roles would be obliged to give up their jobs to men, unless they worked for firms that had employed women before the war. Rachel was forced to leave her role as Director of C.A. Parsons. However, impressed by the talent and skills she had witnessed in the female workforce during the war, Rachel campaigned tirelessly for ‘fair play for women in the industrial world’ and in January 1919, she and her mother, Katharine, established the Women’s Engineering Society, with Rachel as the first president.

Rachel Parsons was one of the great unsung heroes of early 20th-century feminism. She stood for Parliament in the 1923 election when there only two women MPs and for over twenty years she devoted much of her energy to campaigning for women’s employment rights. Highly intelligent and fiercely independent, she was a fascinating woman who refused to conform to social convention. With her flamered hair, often festooned in furs and jewels, she loved fast cars, fast boats and fast horses. Her determination to make herself heard and to stand up for the intellectual, innovative, scientific and technical abilities of women paved the way for female engineers today.

Sources: National Portrait Gallery. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Women’s Engineering Society. Wikipedia.


Rachel Parsons Portrait The National Portrait Gallery


DAME IRENE WARD CH DBE Church High School Alumna 1910s Conservative MP Born in England in 1895, Irene Ward lost her father to tuberculosis when she was a young child; one of her most potent memories was of the financial struggles that her widowed mother then endured. Although she avoided the term "feminist," Ward was a lifelong advocate for disadvantaged women like her mother and, throughout her political career, stretched the boundaries for women's rights. Irene was awarded a scholarship place at Church High School and from there went on to work as a secretary to an industrialist and began her career in English politics as a volunteer with the Conservative Party. Irene contested her first election in 1924 when she was only 28 and still too young to vote herself. She won her first election in 1931 and her first term in office was marked by a concern for women’s rights. The outbreak of WWII gave Irene further opportunities to promote women's causes as chair of the Woman Power Committee, a group that influenced the most effective

utilisation of women during the labour shortage. Irene was an able advocate in pressurising the government to improve wages and working conditions for women; she was particularly outraged by the government's compensation package for injured individuals, which gave more to men than women. As a speaker she was much in demand. A member of the government’s delegation to the League of Nations in the 1930s she went on to undertake the arduous and very dangerous mission to travel to China, India and the Middle East for the Ministry of Information in support of the British war effort during WWII. After France was liberated, she was dispatched there too and in 1945 attended the Nuremberg Trials. Her impressive mastery of what were judged tough masculine topics – heavy industries such as shipbuilding, mining and engineering, regional unemployment and economic development were equal to her profound understanding of the Westminster process. A largerthan-life figure, Dame Irene

was a doughty Parliamentarian, a campaigner against injustice wherever she encountered it, combative, courageous, impetuous, forceful, passionate and sympathetic. Nicknamed the ‘Tory Battleaxe’ and ‘Whitehall Warrior’ she engendered affection and exasperation in equal measure. As well as threatening to prod the then Prime Minister Harold Wilson, she walked through the House of Commons carrying a ladder to successfully undermine the argument that women could not work in the Commons Library as they could not climb ladders to hand down books. On her retirement in 1974 she was the longest-serving woman MP, having served a total of almost 38 years. She campaigned for over 15 years for women’s equal pay and her involvement in this campaign is perhaps her most lasting achievement.

Sources: Encyclopedia Britannica. National Portrait Gallery. Oxford Bodleian Library. National Archives. Historic England. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Wikipedia.


Dame Irene Ward Women’s Conservative Conference Royal Festival Hall London 1968


MARY BAXTER ELLIS CBE Central High School Alumna 1910s Commandant of First Nursing Yeomanry The First Nursing Yeomanry was a remarkable and unique uniformed Women’s Service formed in 1907 and active in both nursing and intelligence work during the World Wars. It was formed as a first aid link between the field hospitals and the front lines, similar to a modern combat medic. The first F.A.N.Y. members were mounted (in long skirts and side-saddle) on horseback and were trained to enter the battlefield as single riders to give medical assistance to wounded soldiers. At the outbreak of WWI the F.A.N.Y. fundraised and purchased their first motor ambulance and the first small troop of six F.A.N.Y.s arrived in Calais in October 1914 to support the Allied Armies. In Calais they found hundreds of wounded men on stretchers on the quayside awaiting boats to England, and crowded into hangars where they lay on straw. The hospitals were overflowing. Two days later they took over a dirty and decayed convent school and the wounded were being brought in before they had time to unpack.

Throughout the First World War the F.A.N.Y. lived up to their regimental motto ‘I Cope’. Demonstrating immense bravery, resourcefulness and an ability to learn whatever job came to hand, they ran hospitals and casualty clearing stations for the Allies for the first two years until it became increasingly clear that these extraordinary women were providing a service far beyond first aid. They were maintaining and running a motley collection of vehicles and in extreme conditions, under live fire, gas attacks and bombing raids, they drove with immense bravery and proficiency providing a vital service running supplies across the Allied Front. In 1918 they relinquished all nursing work and became purely mechanised transport. By the Armistice they had been awarded many decorations for bravery, including 17 Military Medals, 1 Legion d’Honneur and 27 Croix de Guerre.

Ellis. Mary was recruited to the F.A.N.Y. by an old Central High School friend ‘Dicky’ (Mary Dickenson Runciman) and in December 1915, travelled to Calais where she became one of the first women to officially drive for the British Army. By 1916 the F.A.N.Y. were well known, their tireless work won public favour and several successful fundraising events were held, including one at Central Newcastle High School. Mary Baxter Ellis became commandant of the F.A.N.Y. in 1932 and it was largely due to her hard work that the F.A.N.Y. Corps was in a position to respond to the demands made on it at the outbreak of War in 1939. Her commitment to the regiment continued until July 1945 when she, with her friend and colleague Marjorie Kingston Walker, retired to Northumberland.

One of these women was the ‘tall and immensely capable Northumbrian’ Mary Baxter

Sources: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. UK Who’s Who. The Times. Wikipedia.


Mary Baxter Ellis Portrait 1940 National Portrait Gallery Bassano


MILDRED ELEANOR GIBBS Church High School Alumna 1920s Missionary, Teacher and Writer Mildred Eleanor Gibbs was educated at Newcastle-uponTyne Church High School and later Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University where she gained a First in the School of Modern History. She served as a missionary to India between 1932 and 1962 and witnessed first-hand the end of the British Raj. Her fascinating and important book ‘History of the Anglican Church in India’ tells the very complex story of Anglican Christianity in India. In 1600 the East India Trading Company was formed to trade in the Indian Ocean region. Through piracy and suppression it rose to account for half of the world's trade, particularly in basic commodities including cotton, silk, indigo dye, salt, spices, saltpetre, tea, and opium. The company interests turned from trade to territory during the 18th century and by 1757 the British East India company established Company rule in India. Rapid cultural changes imposed by the British led to the Indian Rebellion of 1858. The atrocities committed,

including the massacre of civilians, effectively brought about the abolition of the East India Company in 1858. Rule was instead transferred to the Crown in the person of Queen Victoria who was proclaimed Empress of India. Victoria promised that the British government would work to ‘better’ its Indian subjects and Christian missionaries were ideally placed to help deliver this promise. Due to the perceived dangers of an insanitary climate and unpredictable ‘natives,’ the mission enterprise was at first a male-dominated project but it became apparent that Female colleagues were required as they could go ‘beyond the veil’ and gain access to the zenana quarters of Muslim and highcaste Hindu households. At first, British women entered the mission field as wives, but single women’s recruitment increased with advances in female education and their increased employment in roles such as nursing and teaching. By 1900 62% of the missionary workforce was female. The death of nearly three-quarters of a million soldiers in the First

World War led to a ‘Mutilated Society’ in Britain, where there were one and three-quarter million ‘Surplus Women’. These women posed a moral and economic problem and there were many unmarried women who felt themselves ‘burdensome to their fathers or brothers’ for whom becoming a missionary offered a respectable solution. Mildred Eleanor Gibb served at St. John’s College, Agra, for over thirty years. She arrived in 1932 and her time there coincided with a period of dramatic political change. The First World War increased India’s presence on the world stage and strengthened rising Indian nationalism. Missionaries found themselves traversing the gap between the ruling race and its awakening subjects. Mildred Gibb occupied a unique position during this period of profound political change and her book contributes to multiple overlapping historiographies, not only to the history of Church and mission, but also to that of gender, the British Empire, Indian nationalism and decolonisation.

Sources: JISC Archive. National Archives. MUNDUS. British Women Missionaries in India. Andrea Pass (Author) Oxford University. Press in India. History of the Anglican Church in India Mildred Gibbs (Author). Wikipedia.


Anglican Christian Missionary India c1930


ESTHER McCRACKEN (nee Armstrong) Central High School Alumna 1920s Playwright and Philanthropist A renowned playwright, actress and broadcaster, Esther was educated at Central Newcastle High School where she was, among other things, a regular winner of the annual cricket ball throwing competition. Despite refusing to allow herself to be overburdened with academic work (vowing that she wouldn’t let her examinations interfere with her tennis) Esther was a very talented actress and writer. Described as small, red-headed and full of spirit, she acted with the Newcastle Repertory Company from 1924 until 1937. Her first play The Willing Spirit was produced in 1936, but it was with Quiet Wedding in 1938 that her reputation as a writer of comedy was made. It took her to London and ran for over 1,000 performances. It was later filmed by the leading English film director Anthony Asquith in 1941. She wrote more serious plays in her later career, including Living Room in 1943, No Medals in 1944, and Cry Liberty in 1950. She was the first British woman playwright to achieve this level of success and her written

works were most recently republished in 2017. During WWII Esther contributed significantly to the BBC Home Service, the British national radio station set up to broadcast from London, preventing enemy aircraft from using differentiated output from Regional Programme’s transmitters as navigational beacons (the service was later replaced by Radio 4). Esther is best remembered for Wot Cheor Geordi, a radio variety programme that began in the 1940s and was a great success into the mid 1950s.

MEA House was the first of its kind in Britain. It was designed specifically to provide purpose built, high quality, fully accessible office accommodation to house multiple charitable organisations under a single roof at rents below market rate. The building was officially opened by HM Queen Elizabeth II on 1st July 1974. The actress Imogen Stubbs is her granddaughter.

Esther’s first husband, Lieutenant Colonel Angus McCracken of the Medical Corps whom she married in 1936 was killed in action in Naples in 1943. The following year, she married Mungo Campbell who was described as having the face of a very attractive Highland bull. Campbell was a wealthy shipping magnate and it is thanks to he and Esther that Newcastle boasts the landmark building, MEA House in Ellison Place.

Sources: Oxford Reference Dictionary. IMDB. New York Times. National Portrait Gallery. National Archives.


Esther Helen McCracken 1949 National Portrait Gallery John Gay


URSULA DRONKE (nee Brown) Church High School Alumna 1930s Medievalist Ursula Miriam Dronke was a brilliant, vital, and impressive scholarship girl who dedicated her life to difficult works of the human imagination. Educated at Church High School she went on to read English at Somerville College, Oxford where she encountered the literature that was to become her triumphant field of scholarship: Icelandic and Old Norse. The centrepiece of Ursula's Old Norse–Icelandic scholarship was her three-volume edition of the Poetic Edda, a thirteenth-century anthology of Old Norse–Icelandic poems, some mythological, some heroic, together preserving some of the central texts of a rich literary tradition: poems about the Old Norse gods, about their downfall at the Old Norse apocalypse, Ragnarök, and about the heroic dynasty of the Volsungs, featuring Valkyries such as Brynhild and heroes such as Sigurd the Dragon-Slayer. Ursula was supervised by two leading Old Norse specialists at Oxford, J R R Tolkien followed by another vivid Oxford personality, Gabriel Turville-Petre, celebrated for

his Merlin-like appearance (and his trousers held up with a tie). Her graduate work became her first major publication and immediately gained international recognition. In l945 she was appointed as a college lecturer at Oxford. One of the most enthusiastic and brightest spots of the entire faculty, her reputation as an inspirational teacher is consolidated by the fact that Ursula’s former students have posts and Chairs in all the departments in the world of Icelandic literature. Ursula eventually retired from academic life in 1988 and on her retirement was awarded the prestigious order of the White Falcon by the Icelandic government. Ursula loved the good things in life – art, music, wine, food and people. Always great fun, hospitable, stylish, energetic and witty, her husband Peter Dronke recalls being overwhelmed by her warmth and intellectual vitality at one of her legendary parties, packed as always with students and scholars from all over the world. Her politics were as rigorous and uncompromising as her academic standards: throughout her life, she hated

and spoke passionately against anything reactionary, ungenerous or cynical. Ursula’s painstaking philology (the study of literary texts as well as oral and written records, the establishment of their authenticity and their original form, and the determination of their meaning) combined with her brilliant and vital commentary beautifully illuminated some fiendishly complex, allusive and obscure material. She not only restored them as works of art but made the poems come to life, making them accessible for so many writers and readers today. Ursula is responsible for reinvigorating Viking lore in modern popular culture, her work has inspired and informed everything from epic films like Marvel Universe’s Thor, through children’s fiction such as Cressida Cowell’s How to Train Your Dragon and to role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons.

Sources: The Guardian. Oxford University Press. The Independent. Mimmisbrunnr. JSTOR. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Wikipedia


Ursula Miriam Dronke Portrait


YOLANDE HESLOP-HARRISON (nee Massey) Central High School Alumna 1930s Botanist Yolande Massey won a scholarship to Central Newcastle High School before going on to win a further scholarship to study Botany at Durham University. She was a brilliant student and competed fiercely with another, equally brilliant, student, Jack HeslopHarrison. Despite having their final examination interrupted by having to take shelter during an air raid, Jack and Yolande were both awarded first-class honours in botany in June 1941. They had been competitors as students, sharing most of the first places on the exam lists, but they maintained contact through the war and became friends afterwards when they were doing their respective PhDs, Jack in Belfast and Yolande in King’s, and married in 1950. Yolande and Jack HeslopHarrison were both extraordinary scientists and together made a formidable research team. Their marriage marked the beginning of a lifelong collaboration in botanical research and initiated the specific conservation programme of seed banking which led to the establishment

of the Millenium Seed Bank. The genetic information for future plants is held in their seeds, so the biodiversity of our planet, as well as the sustenance of our species and others’, depends entirely on the seeds that survive from generation to generation. The Millennium Seed Bank Project by the Kew Royal Botanical Gardens has been working with hundreds of partners in 50 countries to provide an “insurance policy” against the extinction of plants in the wild by storing seeds for future use. This is vital to secure the sustainability of the world’s food crops. Threatened by extinction due to rampant deforestation, climate change, urban sprawl and conflict, losing this diversity would have major implications for global food security. Jack and Yolande deserve full recognition for giving the first effective political and practical momentum to the cause that culminated in the construction of the ‘Millenium Seed Bank’ which banked its billionth seed in 2007.

The range of the HeslopHarrisons’ work – genetical, cytological, anatomical, physiological, biochemical and physiochemical—and the variety of arenas they influenced, from molecular biology to agronomy, led to a new appreciation of the scope and significance of the field of plant reproductive physiology. Equals in everything but gender, historical information about the Heslop-Harrisons has largely focussed on Jack but Yolande’s collaboration with her husband was acknowledged in 1982 when they were both awarded the Royal Society’s prestigious Darwin medal in recognition of their work. Their son, Professor Pat Heslop-Harrison, continues their work at Leicester University carrying out laboratory and field research in genomics and genetics for crop improvement, food security, biodiversity and genome evolution research.

Sources: Royal Society Publishing. Leicester University. Royal Society of Edinburgh. Oxford University Press. Wikipedia. Royal Botanic Gardens Kew.


Medallists of the Royal Society 1982 Royal Society Godfrey Argent


ANN McMULLAN MBE Church High School Alumna 1940s WAAF Officer, Director, Electrical Association for Women Ann McMullan was born in Newcastle upon Tyne and educated at Church High School. Graduating with a course in domestic science from Abbey College she immediately joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF). The WAAF was mobilised in August 1939 and was formed for the purpose of substituting where possible women for RAF personnel during WWII. The initial scepticism and humour which greeted many WAAFs soon turned to respect and admiration as the women proved time and again their dedication and skill. They were an integral and vital part of the Royal Air Force’s war effort. Ann served as a code and cypher officer at Fighter Command Headquarters, intercepting and translating enemy intelligence messages. Initially involved only to provide administrative support, women were increasingly recruited for their linguistic, physics and mathematical ability. Critically, women went from having their intellect dismissed to ultimately playing a key role in code-breaking. Before the invention of electronic

computers, ‘computer’ was a job description, not a machine. Both men and women were employed as computers, but women were more prominent in the field. The meticulous work of code breakers cracked the secret of German wartime communication and played a crucial role in the final defeat of Germany. After the war Ann continued to contribute towards the advancement of women and took up directorship of the Electrical Association for Women. The Electrical Association for Women (EAW) was a feminist and educational organisation founded to promote the benefits of electricity in the home and focused on ‘emancipation from drudgery’ by extending the benefits of electrification to middle class and working class homes and to engage women’s experience in the design of electrical appliances and model homes.

educated women about all aspects of electrical technology and its domestic use. In 1935 the EAW commissioned the All Electric House which featured all kinds of electrical appliances and gadgets from an electric cooker, refrigerator and fires in every room to drying cupboards, electric clocks and food warmers. By the 1940s The EAW’s Electrical Housecraft Certificate and diploma was a recognised qualification and covered electricity generation and transmission, home installation of meters, fuses, switches, cookery, refrigeration, kitchen planning and similar applications. The EAW was voluntarily dissolved in 1986, it’s work encouraging women to use electricity in domestic settings had been accomplished and its pivotal influence in getting women out of the home and into the workplace had been achieved.

The first meeting of the Electrical Association for Women (EAW) was held in 1924 at the home of Lady Katharine Parsons (Mother of Rachel Mary Parsons who features as our 1900 Alumna through the decades) and grew rapidly. It

Sources: JSTOR. The Organisation of the Industry, Lynn F. Pearson (Author). New Scientist 1977. Wikipedia. Women’s Engineering Society. The Institution of Engineering and Technology.


Ann McMullan


DOROTHY MARGARET GREIG (nee Hannah) Central High School Alumna 1940s Scientific Officer, Bomber Command. Mathematician Dorothy Margaret Greig née Hannah was born in Gosforth in 1922 and educated at Central Newcastle High School from where she won a scholarship enabling her to enter Newnham College, Cambridge. A talented mathematician, she earned a first in the notoriously tough Cambridge mathematical tripos examination. In 1943 she became a scientific officer at the Ministry of Aircraft Production, working in the Air Warfare Analysis Section, joining over a million other men and women who served or supported Bomber Command. Bomber Command played the central role in the strategic bombing of Germany in WWII. Carrying out vital and dangerous work, it significantly contributed to the outcome of the war. The rules of engagement agreed at the outbreak of war confined bombing to military targets and infrastructure such

as ports and railways. Bomber Command first concentrated on a doctrine of precision daytime bombing, relying on sight to hit targets and avoid civilian casualties. Cloud cover and industrial haze frequently obscured targets so bomb release was made by dead reckoning — the bombers dropping their loads according to the estimated arrival time for the target. Daylight bombing resulted in heavy losses since fighter interception became easy and so Command switched to night bombing. This allowed the bombers a better chance of survival, but the problems of enemy defences were then replaced with the problems of night navigation and target-finding. Margaret Greig worked on calculations relating to the navigational accuracy of bombing and developing pioneering new technologies that contributed to the eventual victory in Europe. The longer range, higher speed and greater bomb capacity Halifax and Lancaster aircraft came into service and the new technology

meant that by the end of WWII Bomber Command was capable of putting 1,000 aircraft over a target without extraordinary effort and predictably delivering bombs within 25 yards of a target, compared with statistics that recorded that most bombs in 1941 did not fall within five miles of their target, resulting in civilian casualties. After the war, Margaret lectured at Leeds University and worked on the theory of worsted spinning, especially the superdraft system for which she was awarded the 1959 Warner memorial award for ‘outstanding work in Textile Science and Technology’. Hannah married Alexander Greig in 1948, they had three sons and a daughter. Margaret continued to work in academia, becoming a Senior Lecturer at Constantine Technical College and then Durham University where she published several mathematical text books.

Sources: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Wikipedia. International Women in Science: A Biographical Dictionary to 1950, Catharine M. C. Haines, Helen M Stevens (Authors)


Operations Room Bomber Command Imperial War Museum


WENDY VERNON-BROWNE OBE Church High School Alumna 1950s (Head Girl) Chief Wren, Teacher Wendy Vernon-Browne was Head Girl at Newcastle Church High School. She became Chief Officer in the Royal Navy Wren Reserves and was instrumental in closing the gender pay gap in the British Military. The 1815 muster list for HMS Queen Charlotte records a seaman called William Brown being dismissed for being ‘female’. This was not an isolated incident, many women joined Naval ships, masquerading as men to avoid gender constrictions, to find adventure and to support themselves financially. It was not until the formation of the Women’s Royal Navy Service (W.R.N.S. or Wrens as they became known) in 1917 that women were officially allowed to go into military service. Soaring fatalities and a lack of able seamen during WW1 meant women were called to join the new Women’s Royal Naval Service to ‘Free a Man for the Fleet’. 5,500 pioneering recruits signed up, filling in shore-based roles. These were at first traditional female roles such as clerical assistants, cooks, stewards

and cleaners but by the end of the war one in six Wrens were working in technical trades. Disbanded at the end of the First World War the WRN was revived in 1939 at the beginning of WWII. WRNs included cooks, clerks, wireless telegraphists, radar plotters, weapons analysts, range assessors, electricians and air mechanics. At their peak in 1944 there were around 74,000 Wrens, to give some context, today the Royal Navy is just under 30,000 strong. The WRNs confounded the sceptics and rapidly increased confidence in their abilities and were a powerful force for change in the fortunes of women. At the end of the War, the Admiralty established a peacetime WRNs in response to the threat to British interests in the Middle East from the Soviet Union. A recruitment campaign urged women to seize life’s opportunities and promised financial independence, mirroring the changing attitude towards women within the workplace.

The Royal Navy was the first military service to open main combat roles to women and this was largely due to Wendy and other leaders of the WRNS who fought to expand and diversify women’s roles in the Navy. Success was confirmed in 1993 when there was no longer a need for a separate service, the WRN was disbanded and women were fully assimilated into the Royal Navy. Wendy was awarded an OBE by the Queen in 1981 in recognition of her work with the Women’s Royal Navy Service. Wendy’s civilian life was equally rewarding, she spent many years as the Director of PE at Talbot Heath School where she is remembered fondly as ‘an absolute Legend’. Wendy died at 87 years old in 2019. We are extremely grateful to Wendy who generously remembered our Bursary Programme in her will.

Sources: Talbot Heath Archives. Wikipedia. Association of WRENS and Women of the Royal Naval Services.


Wendy Vernon Browne Portrait Royal Navy Reserves


MIRIAM STOPPARD OBE Central High School Alumna 1950s Doctor, Businesswoman, Journalist, Broadcaster and Writer Dr Miriam Stoppard, OBE (nee Stern and subsequently Moore-Robinson) was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1937. Dr Stoppard’s father was a nurse and her mother worked for the Newcastle school dinner service. As a girl, with a family of modest means, Miriam was brought up in a prefab on a large council housing estate. She was bright and determined and at 11 won a scholarship to Central High School. Miriam left Central High school in 1955 and went on to train first as a nurse at the Newcastle General Hospital and then to study medicine at King’s College, Durham where she qualified as a Doctor. She obtained the degrees of M.B., B.S., M.D., M.R.C.P., while studying and practising medicine at London, Newcastle and Bristol Universities. In 1998 she was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, London. After seven years practising medicine and specialising in dermatology, she entered the pharmaceutical industry eventually holding the

posts of Research Director and Managing Director for Syntex. In the early 1970s, Miriam became a television presenter on scientific and medical programmes and has been at the forefront of the revolution in health information since she began her writing and broadcasting career which has spanned over 18 years. Miriam has become well-known to millions all over the world as a leading authority on parenting, child-care, women’s health and many other crucial health issues. To date Miriam has published more than eighty books and sold in excess of 25 million copies worldwide. Miriam is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, holds two Honorary Doctorates of Science and an Honorary Doctorate of Law. In November 2007 she was voted the UK’s No.1 parenting guru. In November 2008, Miriam received the prestigious Stonewall Journalist of the Year award. And in January 2010 Miriam received an OBE in the New Year’s Honour List for her services to healthcare and charity.

Sources: Wikipedia. Miriam Stoppard 2020.

Miriam credits Central Newcastle High School for giving her the education that formed the foundation for her future. She remains a firm supporter of the School and her granddaughters attend GDST Schools. ‘I didn’t know it at the time but my education at Newcastle High has meant everything throughout my life. It stored up a treasure trove in my mind and my heart that has lasted a lifetime and on which I still draw.’


Miriam Stoppard Portrait


RUTH IRENE CALEB OBE Church High School Alumna 1960s Film and Television Producer Ruth Irene Caleb, Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, was born in 1942, and is an award-winning veteran film and television producer. Brought up in a household where politics were very much the discourse, Ruth was very aware of the world around her. Her parents were both immigrants, her father from Berlin and her mother Vienna. Ruth always felt that she didn’t quite fit in but was fascinated about what it was to be English and why it was that she didn’t fit in. At eighteen she left Newcastle Church High School with two options, either a place at Drama School or a place at University to read Politics and Economics. Her Father advised her to go to University so she accepted her place at Drama School. Ruth quickly realised that she would never be a very good actress and decided to pursue a career as a Director. Hired by the BBC as a holiday relief assistant floor manager she

secured herself a job at the BBC at the very bottom rung of the ladder and she continued to work for the BBC for the next 50 years, becoming the BBC’s first ever female Head of Drama. Ruth’s interest in people who are at the margins of society has led to an extraordinarily courageous career in television drama. Working for a publicly funded, risk averse, large and complex public broadcasting company she fought to produce contentious dramas shining a light on difficult subjects such as domestic violence, sexual abuse of children, alcoholism, euthanasia and gun crime. She passionately believes that television has the power to communicate, influence and give profound insight into the society in which we live.

award at the Women in Film and Television Awards. She is known for her work on productions that include; Pawel Palikowski’s Last Resort; Judge John Deed, Saul Dibb’s Bullet Boy; The Last Days of the Lehman Brothers, The Whale and A Poet in New York. Her best piece of advice? “Fight on for what you want. See a no as a delayed yes. Do not give up.”

Ruth was awarded a BAFTA in 2001 for her ‘outstanding personal contribution to TV’. In 2004 she was appointed an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) for her services to drama and in 2012 was granted a lifetime achievement

Sources: IMDb. Wikipedia. London Screenwriters’ Festival. Wikipedia. Cineuropa. BBC Women’s Hour, Radio 4. One Vision: ‘Doing Drama Dangerously’ with Ruth Caleb Serie Series 2017. British Independent Film Awards.


Ruth Caleb British Independent Film Awards 2016


JACQUELINE MITCHELL Central High School Alumna 1960s United Nations Chief English Interpreter Jacqueline Mitchell was awarded a scholarship for Central Newcastle High School in 1960 and remained at the School until 1968. An outstanding student of languages she took A Level French, Latin and German in her first year of Sixth Form and focused entirely on Russian during her final year. She went on to Oxford University and graduated with an Honours Degree in Modern Languages. Jackie speaks five languages and worked at the United Nations as a simultaneous interpreter from Russian and French for 35 years. The United Nations came into being in 1945, following the devastation of the Second World War, with one central mission: the maintenance of international peace and security. The UN, currently made up of 193 Member States, does this by working to prevent conflict; helping parties in conflict make peace; peacekeeping; and creating the conditions to allow peace to hold and flourish. The United Nations Interpretation Service is essential to the inter-

governmental bodies for the proper conduct and smooth functioning of their deliberations. There are 128 interpreters for six official languages of the UN - English, Arabic, Spanish, Russian, Chinese and French. To become an interpreter for the UN you must have a firstlevel degree, perfect command of one official language of the United Nations and English, French, Russian or Spanish. Interpreters must also possess excellent oral comprehension of two other official languages. Arabic or Chinese interpreters must also possess excellent command of English or French, as required. Applicants must also take the UN interpreting test, renowned for being incredibly tough. Interpreters working at the UN are expected to recognise, understand and - in a split second – have a word in another language across a broad range of issues including politics, legal affairs, economic and social issues, human rights, finance and administration. Interpreting is always intense and often stressful as the

communications taking place matter to people’s lives. Words have been likened to bullets, once out they cannot be retrieved or replaced and the potential for error is large. People often speak very fast and translations often can’t be made literally so interpreters must think on their feet, translating the idea, not just the words. It is recognised that 100 percent concentration for more than 30 minutes under these circumstances is impossible so Interpreters work in pairs, doing half an hour before swapping over. UN interpreters make sure nothing is lost in translation. They must have nerves of steel, a high level of education and a lot of intellectual curiosity. We are enormously grateful to Jacqueline and her sister Valerie who have encouraged a new generation of girls to study languages by donating prizes to the School for excellence in French, Spanish, German, Modern Languages as well as Engineering. Both Valerie and Jackie also support our Bursary Programme.

Sources: Mitchell, Jacqueline 2020. The United Nations. The Guardian 2014. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.


Jacqueline Mitchell


Jenny Lucas (nee Lee-Smith) Church High Alumna 1970s Professional Golfer Jennifer Lee Smith was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1948. She lived in Jesmond and was educated at Church High School. Jenny was a trailblazer for English golf. Winner of the first Women’s British Open in 1976, she was also the North East’s first female professional, first from the region to play on the WPGA tour and the first to make it on to the US LPGA Tour. Jenny’s parents owned a home on the dunes at Embleton and by the age of three she was a regular on the course at Dunstanburgh Castle, holding her first golf club, cut to size by her father. During her time at Church High School she began working for John Jacobs at the Golf Centre in Gosforth Park and she hit thousands of golf balls there under the watchful eye of the man known as ‘Doctor Golf’, who would also become Ryder Cup captain and the father of the European Tour. He told Jenny: ‘One day young lady, you will play for England’ and he was right.

After some success in regional tournaments in the late 1960s and early 1970s, she began to play international tournaments. She was a member of the Great Britain Curtis Cup team in both 1974 and 1976, represented England in the 1975 European Team Championships and played for Great Britain and Ireland in the 1976 Espirito Santo Trophy.

circumstances only a few miles apart. Helen grew up in a pit village in Tyneside in the post-war years and suffered years of abuse at the hands of her neglectful mother and violent father. By contrast, Jenny was adopted by loving parents as their only child and experienced a privileged upbringing in Newcastle.

In 1976, while still an amateur, Jenny won the inaugural Ladies’ British Open (now the Women’s British Open). At the end of the year, she was voted Daks Woman Golfer of the Year.

Neither woman knew of the other’s existence until Jenny went looking for her birth family and found her sister Helen. They published an inspirational and moving account of their story which became an Amazon No. 1 best seller.

Jenny turned professional in 1977, and qualified for the LPGA Tour that year. The Women’s Professional Golf Association was formed in 1978, and Jenny joined the tour for its first year in 1979. She finished 8th on the money list that year, third in 1980, and won the Order of Merit as the leading money winner in both 1981 and 1982. She was voted the 1982 North East Sports Personality of the Year.

Jenny lives in Kent with her husband and three children.

Jenny is also one half of an extraordinary story of twin sisters separated at birth and who grew up in very different

Sources: The Guardian 2013. Wikipedia. Northern Golfer. International Golf Federation. My Secret Sister: Jenny Lucas and Helen Edwards’ family story, Helen Edwards (Author), Jenny Lee Smith (Author, Contributor)


Jenny Lee Smith Ladies European Open 1984


CANON MARION MINGINS Central High School Alumna 1970s Social Worker, Chaplain to the Queen Marion was born in Newcastleupon-Tyne and was educated at Central High School. Marion had a strong social conscience and was renowned for her sense of humour and her ability to be natural and unpretentious. She took a degree in Social Science and Social Administration at Birmingham University and undertook further social work training at Leicester University. The combination of social science and a sense of Christian vocation led her to the Church Army and a pioneering career in women’s ministry. Marion was among the first women to be ordained as a Church of England deacon and became the first Anglican woman priest to become Chaplain to the Queen, an appointment of political, religious and social importance. The Anglican religion was established following the English Reformation, a series of events in 16th Century England by which the Church of England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church,

prompted by Henry VIII’s desire for annulment of his first marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Henry VIII appointed himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England and today the reigning Sovereign holds the title 'Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England'. By appointing a female Chaplain Queen Elizabeth II signified Royal approval of not only the ordination of female priests but also the decision to allow them to hold senior roles within the Anglican Church for the first time in the Church’s 460 year history. The ordination of women and their seniority in the Church has been the subject of heated and highly divisive debate for over twenty years, threatening the security of the Anglican Church. Marion’s appointment as Chaplain to the Queen paved the way for the resolution of this debate and the overwhelming majority vote at General Synod in 2014 to allow women to become bishops of the Anglican Church ended at a stroke the male domination of its hierarchy and overturning centuries of tradition.

Marion Mingins was a determined person, reaching for boundaries both in her pursuit of the religious life and of ordination. She had considerable influence and brought many to acknowledge, sometimes reluctantly, that women might have an important place in the priesthood. The Reverend Canon Mingins quietly but irrefutably changed the political, social and religious landscape of England forever. Her pioneering Royal appointment as a female leader in the Anglican Church challenged the ‘stained glass’ ceiling and allowed women to assume positions of seniority in one of the most powerful institutions in England, taking a huge step towards gender equality, a fairer society and resolving a dangerous schism in the Anglican Church.

Sources: The Guardian 2014. The Telegraph. The UK’s Who’s Who. The Times. The Independent. Wikipedia.


Canon Marion Mingins


LOUISE MOAT Church High School Alumna


Investment Banker Fifty years ago the only women on Wall street were the gloved and hatted secretaries. Their bathrooms were fitted with light bulbs bearing their bosses’ names so no call went unanswered. In 1972, one bank’s entrance exam included the question: ‘When you meet a woman, what interests you most about her?’ The correct answer was beauty. Low scores were given for those who answered intelligence. There was, of course, no question about what to be interested in when meeting a man. Despite this institutionalised sexism, a few dozen determined and tough women did manage to break into finance four decades ago. A great deal has changed since then but on the top floor the glass ceiling remains, with women massively underrepresented in senior positions. This is changing and it is thanks to women like Louise who have paved the way for future generations. Their success has given weight to the argument raised by the financial crisis that women might be the best stewards of the financial sector. Traditionally deemed too emotional, women were seen as fundamentally

unsuited to roles bearing heavy responsibility. Now it is male traders and bankers who are seen to be driven by the emotion of greed and machismo, slaves to the thrill of ever greater risks. In February 2021 the first female CEO in the history of wall street, Jane Fraser, will succeed as CEO of Citibank. Louise has worked in investment banking for over 30 years. She left Church High School in 1983 and went on to graduate with a BA in Geography from Oxford University before beginning her career with Grindlays Bank, a British based bank specialising in the financing of trade flows across the commonwealth. Having completed postings in London, Paris and Milan, Louise moved to CIBC, a leading North American financial institution where she was involved in the financing of infrastructure projects in the media and telecommunications space, developing much of the mobile telephone networks across the UK and Europe. In 2003, Louise was promoted to Managing Director and joined WestLB, a German based bank as Global Head of Media & Telecommunications. She was later promoted to a variety of

different roles and ultimately became Head of WestLB’s operations in Asia Pacific, relocating to Hong Kong in 2012. Louise now works for Nomura, a Tokyo based global financial services group with a network spanning over 30 countries. Louise is Chief Operating Officer for Asia excluding Japan based in Hong Kong. A graduate and advocate of the Women’s Directorship Programme, Louise is on the Advisory Council for the Women’s Foundation in Asia and a member of the Asia Pacific 30% Club which aims to have women hold at least 30% of Board seats on Asian companies. She regularly contributes to discussion panels tackling the challenges confronting women leaders in business today. It has been said that ‘some women open the door, the others walk through’. Louise has walked through the door and is making sure that it is held open behind her.

Sources: The Guardian ‘Women in Finance: the past 50 years’. American Banking. Business Leader. Louise Moat 2020.


Louise Moat Nomura


PROFESSOR RUTH PLUMMER Central High School Alumna 1980s Medical Scientist Professor Ruth Plummer FMedSci is an oncologist and Professor of Experimental Cancer Medicine at the Northern Institute for Cancer Research, Newcastle University and an honorary consultant medical oncologist in Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. She is Director of the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre within the Northern Centre for Cancer Care, which is a dedicated clinical trials unit based within the regional cancer centre. She leads the Newcastle Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre and also the CRUK Newcastle Cancer Centre. Ruth attended Central Newcastle High School from Reception until she left for Cambridge to read pre-clinical medicine and, she enjoyed her third year project so much she passed her medical training to do a science PhD, before undertaking the three years of clinical training required to complete her medical degree at Oxford. Ruth moved to Newcastle to take her postgraduate medical exams and she started training in oncology in 1995.

In 2000 Ruth moved to work for the university as a clinical academic, progressing from clinical lecturer to senior lecturer and then a personal chair in 2008. Ruth now works as a consultant oncologist in the Northern Centre for Cancer Care and runs the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre where she leads early clinical trials of new cancer drugs in people, aiming to establish safe dosage, drug tolerance and performance. Research like Ruth’s is vital in translating scientists’ drug discovery research from the lab into real patient benefit. Finding new, more efficient cancer treatments will be crucial to boosting the number of people surviving the disease. Ruth was invited to become a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2018 for her outstanding contribution to experimental cancer medicine. The Academy of Medical Sciences cited upon election that Ruth “has a world-leading reputation in the design and delivery of early phase clinical trials. She has taken many new cancer drugs into the clinic to determine their optimal dose,

which have then become standard treatments with proven patient benefit.” Ruth won a Translational Cancer Research Prize from Cancer Research UK in 2010 for her work on PARP inhibitor trials. She was presented with the STEM award at the North East Women Entrepreneur of the Year Awards in 2015. She is most proud of the fact that she was instrumental in the development and trial of a drug that is now approved and helping patients across the world. The advice she would like to pass on? “Seize the opportunities which come along, there is not a “right” career path and sometimes you have to follow your heart not your head.” Ruth lives in Newcastle with her family, and is a member of the Senior Governing Board at NHSG.

Sources: Cancer Research UK. Newcastle Hospitals. Newcastle University. Wikipedia. Newcastle Chronicle. Ruth Plummer.


Professor Ruth Plummer Cancer Research Centre


MAJOR LUCY BUTLER RLC Central Newcastle High School Alumna 1990s Occupation: Lieutenant Colonel Lucy Butler attended Central Newcastle High School for nine years and describes school as: ”the smithy that forged a dogged work ethic, instilled a ‘can do’ attitude and inculcated an assured resilience”, and despite the challenges presented by her dyslexia, only friendship, inspirational teachers and the occasional hilarious escapade feature in a very happy memory bank. After reading Geography and Sport Science at Loughborough University, she joined the Army in 2004 and Commissioned into the Royal Logistic Corps in August 2005. For centuries, women have joined men on military campaigns in various unofficial roles. War was very much seen as men’s work but that didn’t stop women trying to take part. So many women disguised themselves as soldiers during the 17th Century British Civil Wars that a proclamation was issued banning women from wearing men’s military clothing. The First World War opened up the armed services to women but only in a nursing capacity. It wasn’t until 1949 that women were officially recognised as a permanent part of the British Armed Forces, although full combat roles were still

restricted to men. In 2018 the Defence Secretary announced that all combat roles were open to women and for the first time in history the British Armed Forces would be determined by ability alone and not gender. Lucy has been an active member of the military during some historic changes. The early years of her military service as a Lieutenant and Captain saw her undertake Operational Deployments to Iraq (2007 & 2008/09) and the Falkland Islands (2007/08), where her responsibilities ranged from commanding resupply convoys in southern Iraq, accounting for the South Atlantic war-stock, to planning various transition related missions and the coordination of Operation TELIC drawdown and redeployment. Assignment as Adjutant of 10 The Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment RLC followed and she was later selected to be a Platoon Commander at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Prior to undertaking this role, she deployed to Afghanistan with 3 Commando Brigade in 2011. On promotion to Major, she deployed again to Afghanistan (2013/14), before

Source: Lucy Butler 2020. National Archive. Southampton University.

attending the Intermediate Staff and Command Course (Land). Lucy was then assigned as a Military Assistant to the Chief of the General Staff in 2015 and subsequently undertook command of 8 Fuel and General Transport Squadron in 2017. She commenced her current assignment at the Standing Joint Force Headquarters Defence’s, high readiness operational level headquarters, in May 2019. Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in February 2020, she deployed on Operation BROADSHARE, the UK Government’s response to the immediate Covid-19 crisis in the British Overseas Territories. Lucy’s passion for sport, first sparked on the muddy intake fields has endured throughout a military career interspersed with overseas tours to South Africa, New Zealand, the USA, Barbados and Italy. She remains a keen runner and committed member of Woking Hockey Club. She is married and divides her time between London, Edinburgh and South Shields.


Major Lucy Butler Portrait 2019 Alan Younger


RACHEL AVERY Church High School 1990s (Head Girl) Lawyer Rachel was Head Girl at Newcastle Church High School in 1997-1998. She went on to read Law at Trinity College, Cambridge where she was awarded the Tripos Prize three times, the John Hall Prize for Family law and graduated with Double First Class Honours, becoming a Senior Scholar. In her final year at Cambridge Rachel received a Hollond Fund scholarship to study for an LLM at the University of California, Berkeley, USA where she also interned at the San Francisco office of the State Public Defender working on habeas corpus appeals on behalf of death row inmates. On completion of her LLM, she returned to the UK and completed her Bar Vocational Course at the Inns of Court School of Law in London, winning a Whittaker scholarship from Trinity College and Mansfield and Hardwicke scholarships from Lincoln’s Inn. Rachel was called to the Bar by Lincoln’s Inn in 2003. She undertook pupillage at Devereux Chambers and became a tenant in 2004 and in 2005-2006 was a Judicial Assistant to the Law Lords. Rachel is currently an Associate Professor (Teaching) at

Durham Law School where she is the module leader for the commercial law module and teaches employment law. She is a practising barrister and member of Devereux Chambers where she specialises in employment and commercial law. Outside work Rachel is a lay advisor to Durham and Darlington MAPPA, trustee of the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance, committee member and mentoring co-ordinator of the Trinity College Law Association and a governor of Bearpark Primary School. Most importantly, she is also mum to Benjamin, Harry and Sophie. Rachel attended Church High from the age of 8 and the distinguishing character of the School that she remembers most is the value placed on the individual. ‘The School nurtured the talent of each student, encouraged pupils to pursue our own interests and not only do things that we were good at but also that we enjoyed.’

as have the many good friends that she made at School. Her memories of school are a collection of Duke of Edinburgh expeditions, mock elections, abseiling off the Tyne Bridge for charity, school plays, trips, attempting (and failing) to achieve a passable standard at art and teachers getting very exercised about the length of people’s skirts! If she had the chance to speak to her younger self at school she would say: “Make the most of every opportunity and take opportunities even if they push you out of your comfort zone. I look back at the number of things I was encouraged to do which didn’t come easily to me and at times terrified me but which I now see really shaped my character and personality.” Rachel lives in Durham with her family.

The ethos of respect and for listening and learning from others is something that has stood her in good stead for life,

Sources: Devereaux Chambers. Durham University. Legal 500. Rachel Avery 2020.


Rachel Avery Durham University


ISABELLA WEST Central Newcastle High School Alumna


Entrepreneur, CEO Hirestreet Isabella West is the Founder and CEO of Hirestreet. Hirestreet is a fashion rental platform committed to making style and sustainability accessible for all women. It is focused on building a community of empowered women who can all experience the feeling of confidence when wearing the outfit of their dreams. The platform gives access to premium brands at an affordable price, allowing customers to experiment with their style. The community is built by women who are fashion, money and environmentally conscious and are focused on working towards a more sustainable future. Isabella left Central Newcastle High School in 2011 and went on to graduate from Oxford University with First-Class Honours in Economics and Management. She moved to London where she worked for Selfridges as a global strategist and it was while living and working in London that she became aware of the financial and environmental wastefulness of buying fast fashion and wearing items just a few times. After several attempts to re-sell outfits on apps like Depop she started

thinking about potential alternative consumption models that would also address the increasing awareness surrounding the ‘true cost’ of fast fashion. She perceived that there would be other women with a similar interest in fashion who couldn’t afford to switch to more expensive sustainable clothing options but were still worried about the environmental impact.

will encourage growth of Hirestreet’s workforce, its team of ambassadors and social influencers and the implementation of a longterm membership subscription programme for its customers. Hirestreet’s rapid expansion sets the company securely on its path towards achieving Isabella’s ambition to become the UK’s number one high street rental service.

It is believed that something in the region of £3 billion is spent on summer wardrobes in the UK each year, with an estimated 50 million summer outfits being worn just once before being discarded. Isabella started Hirestreet with a lot of her own wardrobe and with help from her sister and friends. She registered Hirestreet in 2017 and launched the website in 2018. In under two years Hirestreet amassed over half a million site users and last year saw revenue growth of more than 1,000%, as well as saving customers more than £500,000 by renting instead of buying.

Isabella won the Young Achiever of the Year Award at the 2019 Glass Slipper Awards, has been shortlisted for two NatWest Great British Entrepreneur of the Year awards for both Disruptor of the Year and Young Entrepreneur of the Year. She is listed on the Forbes 30 under 30 list of Europe’s top rising business stars.

The company recently secured six-figure syndicate funding and made its first major acquisition of competitor Hire That Look. The syndicate investment

Her advice to the next generation of girls? “Take advantage of every opportunity and to support each other, find a network of women who build you up and don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

Sources: Forbes 30 Under 30. Drapers. Business Live. The Times. Vogue. Isabella West


Isabella West Hire Street


NICOLA CANDLISH Church High School Alumna 2000s Chief Executive of British Youth Opera Nicola left Church High School to study Music at Hatfield College, Durham where she worked back-stage at a theatre as one of her many extra-curricular activities. After graduation she registered for a Masters, which became a PhD in Electroacoustics. Her research took her to London where she took a part time job doing paperwork for a small opera company where her talent was recognised by the stage manager who encouraged her to become a stage manager herself Nicola worked her way up from small backstage jobs in the West End to International tours with companies such as Shakespeare’s Globe, Birmingham Royal Ballet and the English Touring Opera. She had a very busy career in panto, dance, opera, musical theatre and straight plays. Favourite venues include the London Palladium, The Royal Albert Hall, Her Majesty’s Theatre, a St Lucian Rainforest and Hamlet’s Castle in Denmark. After six years in stage management she met her husband and wanted to settle down and moved to running the Opera Department at the Royal Academy of Music, a role

which enabled her to hone her craft as a Producer and take shows to unusual venues across London, including a disused Chapel and a subterranean concrete testing bunker. Her final role at the Royal Academy was to supervise the opening night of the new theatre, with several members of the Royal Family in attendance. This was not as glamorous as it sounds as she spent most of the evening hiding behind statues and flower arrangements muttering cues into a radio. Nicola left the Academy as an Honorary Associate (Hon ARAM) and moved to be General Manager of British Youth Opera. A year later she was promoted to Chief Executive at only 35 years of age. She is deeply committed to bringing opera into the mainstream cultural landscape and ensuring it is an enjoyable art form for all. Nicola is a founding trustee of Opera UK, a much needed sector support organisation formed during the Covid-19 pandemic. Outside her professional life Nicola volunteers with Girlguiding, something she began to do as part of her Bronze Duke of Edinburgh at School and has continued for most of her adult life.

Sources: British Youth Opera. Nicola Candlish 2020

Girlguiding aims to “Give girls a voice”, through participating in a range of activities and adventures. She has led adventures to Hong Kong, Costa Rica and Switzerland and organises weekly activities for girls aged 10-17 in the London Borough of Haringey. Her time at Church High School taught her that hard work and dedication is key to success. She learned to do as much as possible, to experience as many activities, to meet as many people as possible. She also learned that it costs nothing to be kind and believes that you should start with kindness in every situation and to be able to listen and understand different opinions is vital for success in any leader Her advice to her school age self? “Your entire future is not decided when you leave School, you are not defined by who you are today and where you are now. Step outside of your comfort zone and take on new challenges, take whatever path(s) you like and you will be whoever you want to be. Most important of all, take the exciting route - why be dull?”


Nicola Candlish British Youth Opera


DR CLAIRE BRASH Central Newcastle High School Alumna


Medical Doctor and Clinical Researcher Claire is a Medical Doctor and graduated Rector’s Scholar from Imperial College London School of Medicine in 2018. As a previous Royal College of Psychiatrists Pathfinder Fellow and Academic Foundation Programme Doctor, she is passionate about clinical research and the interconnected nature of the brain and mind. Currently she works as a Training Fellow in the Clinical Academic Office of Newcastle University at the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre, conducting research in the field of Dementia with Lewy Bodies, funded by Alzheimer's Research UK. Claire was also selected for the John Hopkins Hospital NeuroPsychiatry Research Elective in Baltimore. In addition to this experience, Claire graduated with BSc(Hons) in Medical Sciences with Neuroscience and Mental Health at Imperial College and was selected as Undergraduate Research Trainee by McGill University’s Montreal Neurological Hospital, Canada. Claire has worked at Newcastle University's Institute of Neuroscience, researching

Psychophysics on a Nuffield Foundation Bursary and Newcastle University Vacational Scholarship. Claire's interests expand to Global Mental Health, Policy and Ethics, competing regularly in Model World Health Organisation Simulations. Notably, Claire won Best Delegate at McGill University’s Montreal Model WHO, National Scholarship to American Model WHO at Emory University and was Chair for Nordic Model WHO at United Nations City Copenhagen, before CoFounding London Model WHO at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Claire was also part of the winning Imperial College team at the Institute of Medical Ethics National Debating Competition and on the Committee for the Royal Society of Medicine Student Policy Initiative on medical student mental health. Claire is active in outreach and tutoring, working as a UKCAT and Medical Interviews Teacher for Kaplan Test Prep and Student Speaker for RSM Medical Careers Day. Her

Sources: Imperial College London. Research Gate. Claire Brash 2020

teaching has been formally recognised by Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy and her cumulative experience led to the award of a Scholarship to the Healthcare Leadership Academy. Since May she has been a CoInvestigator for the University of Oxford’s Covid-19 Vaccine Team. The Research team are at the forefront of global efforts to understand the coronavirus and are working at unprecedented speed in their endeavour to develop a vaccine.


Dr Claire Brash Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 2020


DR ELEANOR RAYMOND Church High School Alumna 2010s Medical Scientist and Healthcare Improvement Co-ordinator Dr Eleanor Raymond left Church High School in 2011 and went on to Leeds University to study Biological Sciences with an Achievement Scholarship for academic excellence. Eleanor’s interest in Molecular Genetics and Evolutionary Development was established during her studies at Leeds so that when she gradated in 2015 with a BSc (Hons) First Class she was determined to pursue further research in this field and moved on to take a PhD in Genetics and Molecular Medicine at the University of Edinburgh. Eleanor’s research focused on genetic stability in egg cells, aiming to understand the degradation of egg viability over time and prolong fertility in pre-menopausal women. Eleanor is passionate about the accessibility of fertility treatments or alternative parenthood options for people of all ages and demographics. Eleanor works with the People’s Educational Trust. The Trust advances public

understanding of science, law and ethics in the fields of human genetics, assisted reproduction, embryology and stem cell research. Its vision is to improve the choices for people affected by infertility or genetic conditions. Its mission is to educate and debate the responsible application of reproductive and genetic science and lead discussion around sensitive, controversial and important points of science, ethics and law.

can learn about the world around us, the more we can use this knowledge to make improvements, to help people and to actively work to create a better world.

Eleanor completed her doctoral thesis and completed her PhD in early 2020. She is now embarking on a career with Healthcare Improvement Scotland, where she hopes to apply her scientific background, learn about healthcare policy, and improve accessibility of health and social care services throughout Scotland.

“Be open to change. Your dreams and goals now are valid and you should pursue them with all your heart - but always be open to the next adventure, embrace your dreams as they change, and go with your gut to see where they might lead you.”

She feels lucky to have been inspired by teachers who lived interesting and varied lives and who supported her endeavours to pursue her dreams. What would Eleanor tell her schoolgirl self?

Eleanor’s time at Church High taught her to pay attention to her surroundings, to identify gaps in knowledge and find potential solutions. Church High gave Eleanor a sound sense of curiousity and she believes that the more we

Sources: Edinburgh University. The People’s Education Trust. Healthcare Improvement Scotland. Eleanor Raymond


Dr Eleanor Raymond


Davina Nylander Newcastle High School for Girls (Head Girl)


Medical Student at University College London Davina joined Central Newcastle High School for Year 7 in 2008 and became the first Head Girl of NHSG in 2014. Her leadership of the School shaped the role of Head Girl at NHSG; strong, determined, kind and much loved throughout the School, she was an inspiration to everyone. Davina was an exceptional pupil: she was awarded an academic scholarship following her entrance exam and, 7 years later, left NHSG with an A* in Biology and 2 A grades in Chemistry and English Literature. Her active involvement in school productions, sport and volunteering, as well as her outstanding academic achievements, earned Davina the very prestigious GDST Minerva Award for all-round achievement, awarded every year to only one girl across all 25 GDST Schools. Davina left NHSG to pursue a career in Medicine at University College London, a choice that allowed her to pursue her passions in science, art and working with people. During her third year, as part of her degree, she studied an iBSc in Medical Anthropology and was awarded First Class Honours. Davina Nylander, 2020

At UCL, Davina served many different roles within the student body, including Academic Representative for her year group, and holding positions within UCL Medical Society and the Medics’ Netball Committee. She also represented UCL on the British Medical Association’s Medical Students’ Committee for two years, a role which allowed her to learn more about policymaking and how to strive for change at an institutional level. Davina’s determination to speak up against prejudice is very much in evidence in her research and published articles. She wrote a piece for the British Medical Journal’s opinion blog, and also cowrote an article that was published in the International Journal of Social Psychiatry. Both pieces of work examine how social stigma surrounding disease outbreaks can fuel xenophobia and lead to acts of racism, intolerance and discrimination. Her work is informed by her belief that we all have a moral and social responsibility to promote a culture of compassion, acceptance and trust in our society.

Davina recently returned to give a virtual talk during NHSG’s annual School Diversity Week. She spoke to the School community about her experiences growing up as a black girl, and shared wisdom about self-love and the beauty in finding and embracing your own identity. Davina’s message to our pupils was to embrace our common humanity but also honour and respect our differences, because the things that set us apart are often the best things about us. NHSG taught her to be curious and to stand up for what she believes in. Davina is a force for good; she is passionate about using her voice to empower others, and the world will be a better place for having her in it. What advice would she give future generations of girls? “Never feel the need to mould yourself into boxes that others have created. Know your own value, there is no one else in the world like you and that is your power. Try to channel your energy into uplifting yourself and the people around you – life is so much brighter when you do.”


Davina Nylander

Janice Graves

Get InGiorgi Touch... Polly de

Director of Marketing

Philanthropy Manager

Amy Rodway Marketing Officer