Alumni

We’ve reached out to our old alumni over the last year and it has been so fantastic to speak to lots of our ex-students again. So many wonderful experiences, careers, experiences have been shared and with all of them a common thread of how they built friendships and relationships at school.

Below you’ll find some of our Testwood alumni.

KIRI GOLDING

Attended Testwood: 2004 – 2009

Currently: Principal (Salisbury) Starcast Performing Arts School & Dance Academy

CHARLOTTE EVANS

Attended Testwood: 2014 – 2017

Currently: Studying for a degree in Politics and Modern History

Testwood holds very fond memories for me and played a large part in directing my entire career path.

My fondest memories were performing in multiple dance shows, school productions, competitions (such as rock challenge and in house comps), taking part in sports days showcasing work and talent shows.

The greatest achievement from Testwood was being one of the first students to receive an A grade in GCSE dance. Miss Cook (now Mrs Sayer) was the most brilliant teacher and provided so many wonderful opportunities, including being accepted into Hampshire most prestigious contemporary company. Small world, I now teach Mrs Sayers daughter to dance.

From Testwood, i went into FE and HE to study dance and have become a fully qualified dance teacher myself and now run 7 of my own performing arts schools across Wiltshire and Hampshire.
https://www.starcastperformingarts.co.uk/our-teachers/kiri-golding/

Without testwood, I’m not sure what career path I would have taken, but it certainly ignited a passion and focus to which has shaped my entire life.

I also no run dance teaching qualifications to help inspire the next generation of performers and dancers.

Best wishes, Kiri.

I was a Testwood student from 2014-17. My brother has just finished his not-GCSEs (yay COVID!), also at Testwood, and so I found out about this new alumni page through my parents.

I started at Testwood at the beginning of Year 9, having relocated back to the UK from the Middle East. My experience there really flipped my perspective on what I wanted to do with my life: while at Testwood I developed a strong interest in STEM and began looking at a career in engineering – fully supported by my teachers.

However, when I left Testwood I realised that it was the History department, not STEM that had changed me the most while I was at school. At my previous school, I had *hated* history – with a passion. I didn’t like my teacher and I felt that the curriculum we were being taught was boring and non-interactive. Once I started at Testwood that all changed – the History department was amazing and helped me discover my love of History.

I am now at Cardiff University – less than 24hrs away from finishing the first year of my Politics and Modern History degree and loving every single second of it, even during a pandemic!

I always love visiting everyone at Testwood, so I’d be more than happy to participate in any alumni event that you have planned – please do not hesitate to contact me.

JILL BECK

Attended Testwood: 1989 – 1991

Currently: Self-employed Graphic Designer

 

RACHAEL DANIEL

Attended Testwood: 2003 – 2008

Currently: Cranford School Alumni Office/Self-employedwith Social Media Business

I (now 46) went to Testwood and left in 1991. I mostly loved school, my favourite subject being drama with Mrs Headly, she seemed to be pretty cool for a teacher.

I would say I was an average pupil, I went to all my lessons but I often look back and think how well would I have done if I had really applied myself like I did when I started work at 17. My school reports say I had potential if I stopped talking and concentrated more. I loved school for being with my friends, friendships that I still have now and the memories that stay with you… doing cross country runs around the Salmon Leap, hanging out on the field, the youth club, the last day dress up and dinner in the school hall, the skiing trips. I’ve been to a couple of reunions that people have organised and most of us have said how we’d love to go back in time for a day or two just to experience a day at school again. I experienced some bullying too, when I was in the 4th year by some girls in the 5th year (all over a boy) and that was really tough at the time, I can still remember how it makes you feel and years later seeing one of them in Morrisons all the feelings came flooding back. It also makes you think about how you treated others, because I was bullied I then wasn’t very nice to a girl in the year below me, who later in life I bumped into at a solicitors and I immediately apologised for the way I had spoken to her and said I was mortified that I had been horrible to her.

I left school thinking I wanted to be a nursery nurse, went to Southampton City College and only completed one year of my BTEC, lecturers didn’t turn up some of the time and I wanted to work with younger children and a lot of the course was spent with primary school age children.

In the summer college holidays I went to work for my dad, who had a large printing business and there I stayed, working from the bottom up and experienced different departments (reception, sales, customer service, estimating) I worked really hard and loved it. Sadly after being there for 6 years the business folded (after 30 years) a very sad time for our family but this lead on to a passionate career in a job and industry that I didn’t know anything about when I left school.

I went to work for a Graphic Design agency as a production assistant, I worked with clients like Bacardi-Martini, Nintendo, Early Learning Centre and my job felt pretty exciting. I worked hard, I had great experiences often travelling to London, Barcelona, Germany and I gained great insight into how to run a business, working my way up to Account Director looking after Rolls-Royce, L’Oreal & BMW/Mini. 

In 2014, after 15 years of being employed, myself and a colleague took the leap and started our own graphic design agency in the summerhouse in my garden. It was very different going from a team of 18 people constantly asking you questions to two of you, I found it tough at the start but I’ve never looked back. Again, we worked hard, we learnt to go with our gut feelings and to trust in ourselves and we now have a team of 12 people, a Southampton office, a London office and during the pandemic have started a second business, an ‘Experiential’ agency and across both businesses we work with brands like…McLaren Automotive, Charlotte Tilbury, Tiffany’s, Netflix, Jean Paul Gaultier… I still get a buzz from the work we do, the experiences this job brings, the passion I feel in my tummy, I still have pinch me moments and I’m 30 years into my career. I love that I’m still learning, I know have a managing director role and the thing I love best is the people, the nurturing, watching them grow and there passions developing. Our business has been built on relationships with clients, suppliers and our team, most of our business has come from the relationships we’ve built over the years and those people then recommending us to others….I’d say what I was best at when at school developing relationships and talking too much turns out to be what I built my career on

Your post on the Testwood Facebook page is quite timely for me. In January, I started a role at Canford School, Wimborne, in the alumni office. In the few months I have been there, I have had my eyes opened to how important alumni are to schools, current pupils and their own alumni.

Canford pupils very much have a life long membership and access to career advice, mentoring, work experience and networking with other alumni. Since being at Canford, I have had discussions with friends and my brother (Alex Daniel, who left in 2013) to see if there is a way I can help Testwood and raise the “alumni” profile. I am very keen to let you know more about what I do and some of the events that could also be hosted by Testwood.

My journey/career since leaving Testwood has certainly not been one I could have predicted at the time of leaving in 2008.

• Left Testwood knowing already that I wanted to study Primary Education• Studied A Levels at Barton Peveril (2008 – 2010)
• Four year BA Primary Education with English at University of Reading . Took part in a two week enrichment places in Finland as well as four mainstream and one SEND placement. I was also a Course Rep and Faculty Rep during my degree (2010 – 2014).
• Worked at XUK Camps during each summer (USA style summer camps in the UK). Started as a “Camp Counsellor” and worked my way up into the management team.
• NQT year at Freemantle C of E School, Southampton (2014 – 2015)
• RQT year at William Morris School, London (2015)
• Left teaching profession due to unrealistic expectations and workload to take up full time role at XUK Camps as the Marketing & Logistics Manger in London. The role allowed me to learn abs develop skills in marketing, social media, operations etc. I was also very fortunate and got to travel to various cities in Europe and further afield every year to attend expos and meet perspective families and agents. For three summers, I was the Camp Manager at one of the residential camps responsible for 120 children and 38 staff. As part of my role, I have have interviewed over 1000 people (group and individual interviews and have seen thousands of job application forms and CV’s. (2016 – 2019)
• Whilst living in London, I also worked causally for Les Enfants, a high end children’s party company, setting up parties for incredibly wealthy families and VIPs at some of London’s finest hotels.
• I left XUK Camps to fulfill a gap year, something I had always regretted not doing before or after university. Before Covid put a stop to things, I travelled to Cambodia and Vietnam and completed the majority of a ski season with Interski in Courmayeur, Italy. It is thanks to ski trips with Testwood in Year 10 & 11 that I was introduced to Interski and would say I was “living the dream” during my season. I was then meant to spend my tenth summer of summer camp working in the USA at a summer camp in Upstate New York but unfortunately Covid had other ideas. I then spent the next eleven months working as a picker in Tesco, hoping my travels could resume again before I finally admitted defeat and applied for the job in the alumni office at Canford.
• This summer whilst on annual leave from Canford, I will be managing a “quarantine camp” at Monmouth School for boarders returning to school for September. A role I have got through contacts with the school and a Chinese agent I have previously worked with.
• At present, my job at Canford is only part time so two days a week I am self employed, running a social media business, offering services to small businesses to help them grow their social media presence and offer content ideas.

I would love the opportunity to speak to Testwood pupils, perhaps about how your career can take different paths, gap years/travel (I’m a keen traveler and pre Covid got into solo travel), general careers advice – CVs, interview skills etc. or about the importance of networking /contacts.

I look forward to seeing how the alumni platform develops and would love the opportunity to tell you more about my current role and what myself and others could perhaps do for Testwood on a voluntary basis.

PAULINE THOMPSON (GAVETT)

Attended Testwood: 1960 – 1966

Currently: Retired Accountancy/Retail Manager

ZOE NEWNHAM

Attended Testwood: 2001 – 2006

Currently: Zoo Keeper/ Studying MSc in Zoo Biology

I was always in the top 10 pupils for every subject but dismally failed my GCSE’s and therefore failed to get the job I wanted. However, I was determined to succeed and finally became an assistant to an accountant in a shipping/forwarding business. I later went into retail and became the first female Area Manager for Argos. Point being if you set your mind on something you can achieve whatever you want.

I have a daughter Natalie who is 38 and a son James who is 33 both went to Testwood School. Natalie although not working at present helped Eling Tide Mill to archive all its historical information. She loves genealogy and anything historical. James managed a degree in Architecture and has worked at the same Architect Company since leaving school. I also have 2 grandsons Aiden Metcalfe who is 20 and Sam Metcalfe who is 15 and still at the school. Aiden works at a care home and is looking to become a carer or a nurse.

3 generations can’t be bad.

I was in galahad house and remember all the teachers and staff being very supportive, some I am even still in contact with to this day and made great friends who I am also still in contact with. I enjoyed being a prefect and helping out at events and was on the hockey team and enjoyed the matches against other schools. I was particularly interested in science as I wanted to work with animals when I left school.

After school I went to Sparsholt college for a Btech in animal management and then a BSc in animal management and have been lucky enough to achieve my dream working as a zoo keeper first at the New Forest Wildlife Park, and for the past 10 years at Marwell Zoo.
I am now also doing a MSc in zoo biology alongside side work with the aim of becoming a lecturer in animal based topics at some point in the future.

JESSICA-JADE COX

Attended Testwood: 2009 – 2014

Currently: Teacher of History

IAN OVENDEN

Attended Testwood: 1990 – 1995

Currently: Web Developer

I was the class of 2014 and the last year of Mr Applewood as head master/first year with Mrs Pitman (who has since lead both of my brothers through the school and has welcomed me back for work experience).

My fondest memories of the school include two teachers in particular. My tutor was Miss Richbell and she supported me beyond any form of pastoral duties (and I know that I am not the only one she made a huge difference to). She believed in me more than I ever believed in myself and pushed me to the point in which I completed Latin qualifications, the goal project with Warwick university (which made me realise that uni was a possibility and my path), and encouraged me to be a mentor to younger years (during which time she introduced me to a book by my now favourite author Neil Gaiman). In addition to this, as my history teacher I had Mr. Gilbert and was inspired by his sheer passion for his subject. He spoke so freely and knowledgably about history and jumped into lessons with passion and humour, dressing up as historical figures such as Hippocrates to help us learn. These two Testwood teachers inspired and guided me not only in school but in my journey since, the only way I could consider thanking them enough for their belief was to do the same for others and so I, myself have become a history teacher.

After Testwood, I left for Brockenhurst College and completed my A Levels before getting into university to study History at King’s College London. This was a huge step considering London is just a little bigger than Totton. From here, I moved to UCL and the IOE to complete my PGCE and begin my teacher training. Whilst I did this successfully and came out with an A on my master’s credits, this was not without struggle as this was last year (the first year of Covid) and so teaching was a little different than expected.

However, I now sit here, at the end of not only my training but my NQT year, working at Wetherby School in London, Marble Arch. Our alumni include Prince William and Harry (and our current cohort is no less notable) but my proudest achievement is that I now have a tutor group of my own that I am striving to do everything in the way of support and encouragement and I am heading the history department also, teaching lessons in which my practice is quite obviously shaped by Mr. Gilbert’s own style and I hope he would be pleased with them.

I couldn’t be more grateful for Testwood. Without the experiences I had there and the teacher’s support, I would not have gone on this journey.

I was a student at Testwood School from 1990 – 1995. During that period current headteacher, Mrs Pitman was a French teacher! My mum was also a science teacher at Testwood from around 1989, through to the late 90’s. Amazingly over my five years at the school I was only taught by her for one module….

…Reproduction and Inheritance!!

Some of my fondest memories relate to music. I took up the guitar when attending Testwood and was hugely fortunate that this was during a time when Mr Mansell (head of music) invested in a drum kit, guitars and amplifiers alongside more traditional instruments. He also brought in a guitar teacher (Richard Williams) who had a huge influence on me and was a brilliant teacher. I participated in a number of rock concerts during my time, which included vocal performances from current assistant head, Mr Murphy. These were great fun and looking back I realise what a great opportunity they were.

My daughter, Amy attending the school for the past three years has given me the chance to reconnect with both Mr Murphy and Mrs Pitman which has been great.

A brief outline of my journey since leaving Testwood…

– 2 years at Brockenhurst College studying Law, Psychology and Geography.

– I really took to Psychology and combined it with my personal enjoyment of computing to study Applied Psychology and Computing at Bournemouth University, achieving a 2:1 in 2000

– During the course I discovered Web Development and decided that was what I wanted to do… and have done so ever since…

– After graduating I built a portfolio web site and after a few months was given a chance at a Software firm in Surrey. Just a few months later I was made redundant – welcome to the real world!!

– Given even a small amount of experience, fortunately a second job was easier to come by and I worked for a recruitment company in Aylesbury for two years.

– Took some time out to travel the world (US, New Zealand, Australia, Thailand) for three months – great experience that I’d definitely recommend.

– Got back and went to work for the first company I’d worked for, this time staying for 7 years.

– Moved to a smaller company and started focussing on the UI aspect of Web Development – essentially, the final touch point – interfaces on phone, tablet, desktop PC etc. Moving away from database and logic work basically.

– This led to five years at major publishing house, John Wiley and Sons (think “For Dummies”) as a dedicated UI developer working on their digital scientific journal content publishing platform. I learned loads here, eventually becoming a technical team lead managing people across the globe.

– Three years ago I joined Pegasystems Inc, bringing my experience to a consultancy position working throughout Europe. I’ve worked with a number of big clients during my time, including Rolls Royce, Nokia, Lloyds Bank and more recently Motor Insurance Bureau (MIB) responsible for the new independent, small claims service running on behalf of the Ministry of Justice (https://www.officialinjuryclaim.org.uk/)

HANNAH CORLASS

Attended Testwood: 1999 – 2004

Currently: Sister – Surgical Pre Assessment. UHS

Alex Bates

Attended Testwood: 2013 – 2018

Currently: Studying for A levels at Brockenhurst College

 

My name is Hannah Corlass, I was a student at Testwood 1999 – 2004.

Since leaving Testwood I went on to college, and then onto the University of Southampton where I studied nursing. I graduated in 2009 and have worked at University Hospital Southampton since, with my background being in critical care.

I have spent the last 8 years working in ITU (during covid!), only recently leaving to take a post as a sister in the Surgical Pre Assessment department. During my career I have also taught at the University of Southampton, teaching clinical skills to student nurses.

I started struggling with my mental health around the time I joined Testwood. Throughout years 7-10 low mood, anxiety and self harm took over a major part of my life, however the one thing that kept me going was my academic studies. During this time, I had received some support from Testwood’s SEAL group and some counselling from It’s Your Choice, but I was determined to keep my struggles a secret from most and as a result my mental health started spiralling.

In year 11, during my GCSE exams, I suffered a mental breakdown that resulted in an episode of Psychosis. My mental health was something I could no longer keep a secret and so I had to reach out for support. I would like to send my thanks to the amazing staff at Testwood School, particularly Mr Ward, for the support I went on to receive.

One example of this a vivid memory to me – the first day of my GCSE exams… Terrified, hysterical and psychotic, I walked into the office arm in arm with my mum to meet Mr Ward. My mum had to take an important phone call from my psychiatric doctor and my distress heightened. I don’t quite think Mr Ward was prepared for how distraught I was, but nonetheless he managed to calm me down. My mum walked in 5 minutes later to find us both sat on the floor talking about my favourite books. The kindness he showed was invaluable. From there, he arranged for me to sit my exams 1-1 with him.

I’m not sure how, but I managed to leave Testwood with 6’s and 7’s in all my GCSEs. I like to think that this is a testament to the support I received from your amazing staff; I wouldn’t have been able to achieve so highly without that.

After leaving Testwood School I had 2 shorts stays at psychiatric inpatient facilities and intensive support from both CAMHS and CMHT. I have struggled a lot, but I’m proud to announce that as of August 6th 2021 I have been discharged from all NHS mental health services! It’s taken me slightly longer, but I’m also proud of the fact that I’m in Yr 2 of my academic A level studies at Brockenhurst College studying Biology, Psychology, an EPQ and due to be doing a Mental Health First Aid course. My next step is to go to uni and study Ecology and Wildlife Conservation. Alongside this, I am continuing my recovery and spreading awareness for mental health.

I’m hoping that by reaching out to your school, I can hopefully speak to and encourage teachers or students to stick with their academic studies, no matter how difficult life may get. I also am aiming to educate others on mental health and well-being and to prove to people struggling that there truly is a life worth living – you’ve just got to go and live it!

Testwood should be immensely proud of how above and beyond their teachers go to encourage and inspire their students; the above just being one of many examples!