Alumni - Class of 2009

Barton Mathews

thumbnail Barton Mathews headshot 002

The route you took after school

After leaving Hanley in 2009 having been very proud to be Head Boy, I headed to BC, Canada where I worked a ski season at Panorama Ski Resort. Returning to England, I studied International Business at Loughborough University which included a year-long placement year working in marketing for IBM in London. Whilst at university, I continued my love of public speaking which culminated in giving a Tedx talk on happiness in today's society . New Zealand had always been on my bucket list but I wanted to do more than holiday there, so upon graduation I applied for jobs in New Zealand that would allow me to spend time in the outdoors.

I struck gold and got a job working at a remote Fjord-side lodge at Milford Sound. Here I spent two happy years working as a nature guide with many an adventure and the occasional trip home for a few games of cricket. New Zealand gave me space and time to work out my next step and also to build my savings (the nearest shop was 2 hours drive away)! I loved working in tourism so after I returned home I pursued ways that I could develop this. In the Spring of 2017, I found a brilliant opportunity working in the travel industry in Los Angeles and decided to take the big step to move across the pond.

What you do now

I work as a travel consultant for Eurobound Tours. Our customers are travel agents across America, who rely on our knowledge of Europe and our supplier network to help plan and deliver high-end holidays for their clients. It's really interesting working with people in different countries every day and it is very rewarding creating dream itineraries for honeymooners, families and people who may be travelling for the first time.

How Hanley helped

Firstly, Hanley gave me a solid academic base on which to take the next step at University. Equally important in many ways, it developed my confidence in standing up and speaking in front of people - something which has set me up for life. Looking more broadly, the most significant take-away from my schooling was my exposure to the transformative power of travel, through school trips and exchanges. Whilst at Hanley, I was lucky enough to travel to Paris, Iceland, Austria, Sweden and China. This opened my eyes to many different cultures and ways of life. It showed me our differences but far more often, our similarities - something which has never been as relevant, as it is today.

Mark Green

MG 1

The route I took after school:
- I left Year 13 in 2009
- I went straight to Brighton and Sussex Medical School after my A-Levels, aged 18, living in halls on the Sussex University campus.
- This was a 5 year degree, and I went straight through from 2009 – 2014, graduating as a Doctor in July 2014.
- (some medical students take a year extra to get a further “intercalated” degree, often a BSc in a specialist area)

- I spent 2 years in Yeovil Hospital, Somerset, as a Foundation Doctor, before deciding I wanted to pursue a career in General Practice, which requires 3 more years of training.
- I did 1 year in Southampton doing Acute Medicine and working in A+E, before moving to Portsmouth.

What I do now:
- I am now working as a GP Registrar in my final year of GP training at The Elms Practice on Hayling Island, Hampshire.

How Hanley Castle Helped
- In my GCSE year I was informed by the Connexions adviser which A-Levels and Grades I needed to do in order to qualify for medical school – I almost missed Chemistry, a crucial subject, until I was informed that this was a compulsory A-Level for medical application
- HCHS ran the Duke of Edinburgh awards, which are valuable on a personal statement as evidence of long term commitment and extra-curricular interest.
- In Sixth Form, after me and several other students had voiced our interest in studying medicine, there were several opportunities offered to us to help by the school – there was a Nottingham University based course called MedLink which HCHS helped facilitate.
- the interpersonal relationships which I had as a student with both my peers, and also the teachers, was fantastic; the environment at school helped my become more confident socially, gave me lifelong friendships, a sense of humour, and motivation to pursue my dreams and aim to reach my potential.

Anna Burrows

Anna B Alumni 2009

The Route You Took After School
I’ve had quite a convoluted route to get to where I am today.

On leaving sixth form I joined Queen Mary University in London to study English. On completion of my English degree I came to realise that my heart did not lie in this field. A little disillusioned I took some time out – a post uni gap year if you will. During this time I travelled to Borneo where I worked closely with Orangutans. It was here where I fell in love and my desire to work with animals - which was a childhood dream - took centre stage and confirmed to me that I needed to return to academia in order to pursue my goal of becoming a veterinary surgeon.

What I Do Now
Having not studied any relevant A Levels for a career as a veterinarian I enrolled on the Preliminary Veterinary Course at the University of Nottingham. This is exactly the same as a normal 5 year veterinary degree except you have an additional year at the very start where you study all the appropriate subjects in order to give you a solid foundation in the sciences and maths pertinent to veterinary medicine moving forward.

I am now 4 years in to my 6 year Veterinary degree. It is still my dearest ambition to work with Orangutans so I am heavily involved with Orangutan Veterinary Aid (OVAID), supporting them both in the UK and Indonesia.

How Hanley Helped
After my decision to become a vet I needed to go through the UCAS application all over again. I also toyed with the idea of doing the appropriate A Level exams at Hanley and even though this wasn’t the course I took, they were incredibly helpful and gave me the confidence to follow this decision through.

As a veterinary surgeon you need to possess the capabilities to converse with clients in an educated and confident manner. At Hanley Castle my confidence and communication skills were nurtured overtime. A key component to this was exposure to the excellent drama department and theatre productions in which I was regularly involved. Not only were these incredibly good fun but helped to build my confidence and also create friendships which are still going strong to this day. Furthermore, whilst at Hanley I had the opportunity to chair the charity committee which has fostered my continuing endeavours to give help where it is most needed and has informed my career choice to work within the charity and conservation sector.

Felicity Sanderson


After leaving school in 2007 I stayed on at Hanley to do my A-levels which were English, History and Media. I got into my first choice university which was Nottingham Trent as they had one of the best Broadcast Journalism degrees in the country. It was a three year course during my time there i undertook loads of work experience working for Sky Sports, Made in Chelsea and the Daily Mail which helped me get a job after leaving Uni

Now I am employed by the BBC as a radio reporter, newsreader and producer. This crosses over into television. I’m currently based down South in Exeter

Hanley was a great platform for the start of my career, pushing hard to get me through GCSEs onto A levels to get to University. Also the confidence and voice it gave me through school debates and trips.

 Charlotte Holmes

Charlotte Holmes

After Hanley I went to do my A levels at Worcester Sixth Form college, this was mainly because I wanted to do textiles and photography which Hanley didn’t offer at the time. This allowed me to then go to Nottingham Trent University which was my first choice to do a creative degree in Fashion Communication and Promotion. I chose a broad fashion degree despite wanting to become a fashion buyer as I wanted a broader knowledge of the industry. I completed work experience at Next head office and at Armani in London before taking a graduate role with Arcadia at BHS Limited as a trainee fashion Buyer. I worked my way up to Assistant buyer in London Marylebone office – a highlight was having to present an idea to Sir Phillip Green! Before moving home and working for Aurum Holdings (Goldsmiths Jewellers) as an Assistant Buyer for Jewellery.

Since then I have had a career change (Goldsmiths was too far to travel based in Leicester) – unfortunately the Midlands is not known for its fashion offices.
The last 2.5 years I have been in sales, I started doing digital recruitment for Michael Page where I was poached to join a data company called Loqate as a Business Development Manager which is my current role.

My original path was that of a creative one, I loved school and was allowed to do 2 creative GCSE’s in Graphics and Art which involved lots of coursework ( I would even do my Graphics work on my lunch break!!) however it absolutely helped me to get to do the degree I chose and landed me the first job role I had.

Rachel Allwood

Rachel Allwood

Kia ora from Auckland, New Zealand.
My name is Rachel Allwood, and I was part of the graduating class of 2009 and I have been asked to share a little bit of what I have been up to in the 10 years since leaving Hanley. At school I had always enjoyed Science, especially Biology so when I was offered a place at the University of Auckland to study Biomedical Science, I took a leap of faith and moved to New Zealand. My course was wonderful and a particularly brilliant series of lectures led me to major in neuroscience. I loved learning about how the brain works so much, that after graduation I applied for a post graduate into neurodegenerative research, however the day I got my acceptance letter was the day I realised I was making a mistake. Although I loved what I learnt, the thought of spending long hours working in a lab just didn’t feel right and I had to take stock of where I wanted my life to go. I knew I wanted to make a difference to people, but by working with them, not from afar. I knew I loved Science, but I loved it best when discussing it with others, not simply reading about it in books. With this in mind, I realised that what I really wanted to do was teach.
5 years after leaving high school, I was back in the classroom, but this time at the front of the class. From my first day I knew I had found what I was meant to do and haven’t looked back since. I am now heading into my 6th year of teaching and as well as teaching Science I am also a Dean, responsible for the pastoral concerns of over 250 students from years 9-13, a daunting prospect, but it is all about taking each day as it comes. This job has taken me to some amazing places, diving at marine reserves, camping in national parks and even on a trip to NASA where we tried zero gravity simulators and met with actual astronauts, possibly one of my most unforgettable moments.
Life is not what I thought it would be when I left school, it has taken me to some strange places, and there have of course been complications, however I wouldn’t change these for the world. I would like to thank the wonderful staff of Hanley for the part they have played in my journey. The support and care that was offered to me by my teachers taught me the importance of choosing a career where you can make an impact. The extracurricular activities I took taught me to take risks and challenge myself (like signing up to the school musical with a horrific fear of singing in public – Miss McDonald, I hope I made you proud). But most of all, I got to experience what it was like to truly love to learn and it is this that has driven me more than anything else. So thank you once again, it might take 10 years for the message to get back to you, but know that you continue to shape the lives of those that were in your care, sometimes even from the other side of the world.

 Deborah Hill (Burks)

Burks Deb2

Following my passion for the arts, after leaving Hanley in 2009 I studied Film Studies at Edge Hill University. During my time living in Lancashire I began volunteering for a theatre company working with local schools producing various musicals and theatrical productions. Moving back to Worcestershire I began working as a Learning Support Assistant back at Hanley Castle High School. Working within the comforting surroundings of Hanley and with the diligent staff I made the decision to become a teacher.
I completed my teacher training at the University of Warwick and I now teach Drama and Film Studies at Ribston Hall High School in Gloucester. I have a lot I owe to Hanley. Firstly and foremost instilling my initial love for Performing Arts during my student days but also confirming for me that teaching itself was the correct path for me. I have many fond memories of Hanley Castle High School.

Jo White (Burks)

Jo Burks

During my years at Hanley Castle I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I was older. Looking back now, Hanley truly paved the way to my future, particularly when it came to the subjects that I loved: Drama and English literature. I left Year 13 in 2009. I went to Roehampton University to complete an undergraduate degree in Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies with English Literature. Following this, I did School Direct training to become a Primary School teacher. I am working full time at a school in South West London. Over the years I have been working here, I have taught a number of different age groups from Year 6 to Year 1. I have been the EAL co-ordinator for the school, and am currently the Phase Leader for Key Stage 1. I love my job. It is fun, busy and no two days are the same. In order to command a room of young and energetic individuals, I constantly draw upon my drama background. My own love for learning, that began at Hanley, is something that I instil in own pupils.