Welcome to the Tong High School Alumni

An alumnus or alumna is a former student and most often a graduate of an educational institution (school, college or university).

We are really keen to encourage as many former students as possible to join our alumni.  We hope to create a thriving community of friends who all share the common experience of attending Tong Leadership Academy at some time over the last fifty years. 

The school first opened its doors to students back in 1964, and lots has happened since then! Gone is the Tong gold uniform, for example, to make way for the smart green, purple and black of today.  If you attended Tong Comprehensive, Tong Upper, Tong High or even TYM (Tong & Yorkshire Martyrs Sixth Form College) we’d like you to join our alumni. The Alumni will offer an opportunity for past students to reunite and share their aspirational success stories, whilst inspiring existing school students. To join please send us your name, the year you left school, contact details and a little bit of information about what you have done since leaving Tong or anything else you feel would be relevant to office@tong.tetrust.org with subject title ‘alumni’.  

We hope that the Alumni will be representative of students from 1964 onwards.  The school’s alumni could also includes a number of well-known names such as; Curry King Shabir Hussain Chief Executive and Owner of Akbar’s, Lauren Evans from UK girl group Voxe, Aston Villa Midfielder Fabian Delph, International Choreographer Nicola Yellop famous for her Spellbound routine on ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent, Bradford Bulls forward John Bateman, Umar Zahoor star of BBC documentary Moon and Stars,  Actor Aqid Khan who made his screen debut in the 2010 film West Is West and the school’s most famous alumni Zayn Malik from global boy band, One Direction.

The Tong Leadership Academy Alumni will be an opportunity for past students to:

Tong Leadership Academy aims to:

Alumni Case Studies

Alumni Q&A -  Siddique Akbar 

Actor Siddique Akbar recently visited us here at Tong to speak at our Exam Celebration Event. Sid left Tong in 2007 after completing his A Levels and is now an Actor and Artist. 

What job are you doing right now and tell us a little about it?
4 years ago I graduated and since then I've continued developing and building on my skills as an actor and artist and never giving up on that passion of mine.

I'm a freelance professional actor 
working within the industry. It's the best feeling in the world to be able to work with organisations like the BBC & Channel Four: it's crazy to think it all started at Tong. I always have to pinch myself whenever I'm on set, because I think “I'm just a regular northern guy, and look where I am”.  It's a great feeling to have, to know that my passion is something I do for a living.  

Since I left Tong I've done a heap of different projects. Most notable has been Strings, 
an independent feature film, shot in Shrewsbury, where I was lucky enough to play a main role and ended up winning a BIFA (British Independent Film Awards) award. I had my scene played in front of the likes of Jude Law and James Nesbit, which was surreal but just shows that hard work pays off. Recently I finished shooting an episode of a new E4 show called Banana by Russell T Davies.

Can you share a couple of fond memories of your time at Tong? When I got the role as Fagin in the school musical, I remember being excited and nervous as I couldn't sing - and I still can't! But the show was great. Working with the teachers and students was an amazing experience and I continued to act throughout my school years. Another fond memory was working on Arabian Nights. I remember the colours, the costumes, the wacky characters who were in the show. Arabian Nights was my last show at Tong and it was a lot of fun, and it captured my whole experience of theatre in school and what was to come.
Did you have a favourite teacher? If so who and why? I want to thank Miss Reilly and Miss Galloway Place for believing in me and pushing me to do well. Tong really did have a huge, positive impact on me. 
Have you a piece of advice for our current students? If I had the opportunity to talk to my 16-year old self I'd say be true to who you are, trust yourself, trust your gut and really focus on what you want and what you want to achieve, because you can. The possibilities are endless and you can do anything if you put your mind to it. Life goes on after school, so make sure you enjoy every minute of your time here. Enjoy each day, pick up the opportunities, be open to possibilities and make the most of it, because once this is gone, its gone. My school years were great. They helped me to become the person I am today, so make yours count, because one day you could be asked to come back and talk to the next generation of students.
Success for me is imaging what I want in my head, focussing on it and surrounding myself with positive people who share the same passion and are motivated to succeed. 

 Alumni Q&A -  Andrea Layzell

We recently caught up with Andrea Layzell.  She was Andrea Callaghan at school.  She attended Tong from 1970 to 1976 and did A-levels in Art, English, History and General Studies. 

What job are you doing right now and tell us a little about it?  I work as a Workforce Development Advisor at the Pen Green Research and Leadership Base, in Corby in Northamptonshire. The centre undertakes research, early years project work and offers conferences and training to the early years workforce, nationally and internationally. The training offer ranges from Continuous Professional Development (CPD) short courses through to PhD, exclusively in subjects that are related to early years education. The other part of our organisation is a Children's Centre that offers care and early education for children aged between 9 months and 4 years old. My current role involves a project that is funded by the Department for Education, involving the Children's Centre team and other practitioners who work with two year olds in private day nurseries, pre schools and as childminders. I am also involved in our Foundation Degree and BA (Hons) in early years.

Did you do any further/higher education? I have an MA in Integrated Services to Children and their Families from the University of Leicester.

Can you share a couple of fond memories of your time at Tong? I loved taking part in drama and particularly remember production of 'Oliver!', 'Dracula' and 'The Laundry Girls'. 

Did you have a favourite teacher? If so who and why? I can't remember many teachers who I didn't rate highly, but I was particularly fond of Vanda Symons, Mark Brignall and Paddy Symons, all English teachers. Each were creative and enthusiastic and seemed to take pleasure in their work. I heard that Vanda returned to Tong between 2005 and 2011 to teach some A-level English Literature.

Have you a piece of advice for our current students? "Don't be afraid to take risks, but decide what your own principles and values are and work towards finding a career that you can be passionate about. We're all better at doing things we enjoy!"

Alumni Q&A -  Tim Hoang

This month we catch up with Tim Hoang who was a student at Tong between 1997-2001.

What job/study are you doing right now and tell us a little about it? I am currently working as a VP social media EMEA for Blackrock, the world’s largest asset management firm. At the moment, I'm still finding my feet and I'm in the process of trying to figure out how they can better communicate to their stakeholders on social media channels like Twitter and Facebook across EMEA. My past experience is actually working in advertising agencies where I worked with McDonald's, BlackBerry, Nissan and John Lewis.

Did you do any further/higher education? I have a BA Hons in Public Relations. People will tell you that degrees are useless if you want to work in marketing. However, I would say that without a degree you are at a disadvantage when it comes to starting your career - many people will not hire you if you don't have a degree as a starting point. I'm also currently studying for an executive MBA at Cass Business School. As I'm getting older, I'm realising the importance of a formal education and don't think I progressed much beyond A-Levels. I'm hoping this will push me into the really senior and strategic roles. 

Can you share a couple of fond memories of your time at Tong? There were too many fond memories to mention. But the thing that I will always appreciate aside from the good times with my friends were the lessons. English literature was amazing and taught me that words didn't need to be formal, strict and factual; the theory I learned in Communication Studies I still use now in my job 12 or so years later; Mathematics was clearly undervalued by me at the time, but a general understanding has helped me better analyse data - in fact what I am learning on my MBA course is simply building what I learned in Statistics.

Did you have a favourite teacher? If so who and why? Wilkie, Carvis and Symons: Between the three of them, they really provided me with a platform to excel. My form teacher, Mr Pearman was also a great guy. You won't appreciate it until you get older, but I don't think any of my friends (some of which studied at Eton, University of Oxford, etc) had teachers who made as big as an impact as these guys did with me.

Have you a piece of advice for our current students? Nothing will be handed to you on a plate. You'll meet lots of people from better backgrounds who you will be competing with, who will be natural networkers and orators and have more support from their parents. I doubt you will have that - I certainly didn't. What I did have were great teachers who gave me the tools to fulfil my potential, but it took a lot of hard work and persistence. 

Alumni Q&A - Kirti Lad

We travel to talk to Kirti Lad who is the Director at Harvey Nash Executive Search, Asia Pacific based in Hong Kong. Kirti was a student at Tong for all her upper school years and graduated from the school in 1991 after studying A Level Physics, Chemistry and Biology.

What job/study are you doing right now and tell us a little about it? I currently run the Asia Pacific region for a Global Executive Search firm and now live in Hong Kong. I have been working for Harvey Nash Plc for 15 years, initially in our HQ in London where I led and grew the Technology Practice across Europe, Middle East and Africa. I moved to Hong Kong in 2012 as part of a new leadership team to expand our footprint across Asia. I have a passion for advancing the development of women in business and lead an Executive Women’s network in Asia. I am also the pioneer behind the Women’s Directorship Program, the world’s first board readiness program exclusively for International women, a joint venture between Harvey Nash and the HK University business school. I am a regular spokesperson and commentator on gender diversity in the boardroom at conferences and in the media globally.

Did you do any further/higher education? I studied BSc in Physics and Chemistry at University College London.

Can you share a couple of fond memories of your time at Tong? My fondest memories of Tong School are the people. I made lifelong friends at the School, many of whom have gone on to become amazing inspirational people in their own rights. I had the best fun during my A level’s, the teachers, the students and the sense of community that we created at the school was supportive, encouraging and gave me my “can do” attitude I have today.

Did you have a favourite teacher? If so who and why? I had many great teachers at Tong but two stood out for me who inspired me, motivated me and always believed I could achieve more. Mr Shakelton, my GCSE and A level Chemistry teacher and Mr Andrews, my GCSE and A level Physics teacher.

Have you a piece of advice for our current students…

“Ok so it’s a very competitive world out there and it’s tough to kick start your career and secure great opportunities, so how do you stand out? Whether you choose to go to university or not, employers look for the “x factor” in you. You need to demonstrate you have passion, focus and dedication in whatever you do. So, find a sport, an interest, a hobby and do it with conviction and excel. Demonstrate you have leadership and team skills through your interests. Try to have an interest that’s a bit different and brings out the “oh really” response when speaking about it. If you are given an opportunity to work for a large company, take it. Larger companies are more likely to invest in you in training and expose you to different function and roles and sometimes countries in your early career which will help you work out what you enjoy doing and what you are really good at. If you then choose to work for a smaller firm or yourself then do it but at least you will have a solid foundation to work from.  Also, network as much as you can. Get out there and meet people in business, connect with influencers and build relationships. And finally, find a mentor/role model/coach and really listen to them…they are a role model for a reason!"

Alumni Q&A - Barry Whitfield

September 2014 will be Tong’s Jubilee Anniversary and this month we take a special trip to Honolulu in Hawaii to talk to Barry Whitfield who was one of the "first through the door" when Tong Comprehensive School opened in 1964.

Barry says; “From time to time I go online to see how the school is doing and reading from afar (and I really do mean afar), it is apparent that our first Headmaster had a clear vision of what could grow from a small beginning. I am amazed of the young people of today and the wide range of educational and personal growth opportunities that the school offers. I now live in Hawaii, which has a very ethnically diverse population. I especially enjoy reading of the list of achievements by Tong students from such a wide range of backgrounds.”
Q) Can you share a couple of fond memories of your time at Tong?I only experienced one year at the school, leaving Bradford with my family to move to Australia in September of 1965. I remember feeling very sad at leaving Tong, as I really loved the place, students and teachers alike. Plus, construction of a swimming pool and all-weather football pitch was rumoured. But, a new life beckoned and I was excited to be moving to a place where I could go to the beach and surf all day and every day.
Q) Did you have a favourite teacher? If so who and why?There were so many good teachers in that first year that it is difficult to single any one teacher out for praise at the expense of others. I will say that Mrs Bland was quite possibly one of the best Maths teachers I encountered. She had to be, I passed both mid-year and end-of-year Maths exams. I also should mention the Sports teacher Mr. Holmes, who taught me that tenacity is a mark of character, a lesson I have applied many times over in my life.
Q) Did you do any further/higher education? After completing high school I joined the Royal Australian Air Force, which put me through University. After graduation, I served as a Logistics Officer and had a very rewarding career in several locations in Australia, South East Asia and the USA. At the ripe old age of 32 with my career looking to be heading in the desk-bound direction, I hung up my uniform and joined a major Australian oil company, running logistics for oil and gas fields, working again in several locations in Australia and overseas, including the mainland US, UK and Vietnam. My last (and best) assignment was to Hawaii, twenty years ago. Like many before me, shortly after arriving in Hawaii, I knew that I had found a special place to live and I made Honolulu home. I fell in love with the climate, people and natural beauty of the place. I recently retired from full time work and I enjoy filling my days with a mixture of outrigger canoe racing, volunteer work with Special Olympics Hawaii, an interest in a company that designs and manufactures Hawaii shirts (think very colourful) and because I cannot get it out of my system, consulting for a couple of clients in the oil and gas industry.
Q) Have you a piece of advice for our current students?If I have a message for the current students, it would be this. Every day, several times a day, you have an opportunity to decide how you want to be that day and at that time - happy or sad, optimistic or pessimistic, engaged or tuned-out, enthusiastic or could not care less. No-one else makes that decision for you. It's yours and yours alone. Don't settle for mediocre and short change yourself. Next time someone asks you how you are, forget "not bad", or "OK". Answer "fantastic".

Alumni Q&A - Daniel Taylor

Daniel Taylor is our other featured alumni for this month.  He attended Tong from 2000 to 2005 and then did his sixth form at TYM.  Danny has had a really interesting experience in higher education.  He answered these questions for us:

Q) What A-levels did you do? I did psychology, sociology and ICT. Psychology was my favourite.

Q) What job/study are you doing? I currently work in hotel management whilst I confirm a PhD placement with the NHS, which will allow me to qualify as a clinical psychologist.

Q) Did you do any further/higher education? After a long debate with my teachers I went to the University of Bradford to study psychology. I thought university wasn't for me at first but fell in love with academia. I have just finished my masters degree in neuroscience at the University of Leeds. I loved it, it enabled me to travel the world, study in foreign countries and present my research internationally.

Q) Can you share a couple of fond memories of your time at Tong? I don't really remember any one particular memory. My whole team at school had its ups and downs but my life now is a true reflection that the past does not dictate your future.

Q) Did you have a favourite teacher? If so who and why? My favourite teacher was Mrs Leonard. Her blend of tough teaching, genuine care and passion works.

Q) Have you a piece of advice for our current students? Don't let your past dictate your future. Hard work and determination can pay off and can change your whole world.

Alumni Q&A - Helen Tyman

For our next alumni feature, let us introduce you to Helen Tyman.  She attended Tong from 1995 to 2001 and studied A-levels in English Literature, History and Sociology.

Q) Where are you working right now? I am currently employed by HM Prison Sevice in a High Security prison working as a Forensic Psychologist in Training. My job involves me working with offenders to help them work towards reducing their levels of risk through facilitating offending behaviour programmes with them.  I currently work on the Thinking Skills Programme and RESOLVE which are violent offending programmes. I also do risk assessment reports and psychological assessments to assist the Parole Board in assessing risk and readiness for release. My job can be very challenging at times but I find it massively rewarding!

Q Tell us about your higher education. After leaving sixth form I took a year out and worked in a coffee shop (which I absolutely hated!) before going to Newcastle University to study Psychology. I graduated with a BSc in Psychology and gained employment with the Prison Service as a Psychological Assistant. After a couple of years I gained a position as a Trainee Forensic Psychologist and then had the opportunity to study for a MSc in Forensic Psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University part time. It was tough studying and working full time but I managed it and gained my Masters in 2010. I am currently working towards registration as a Chartered Forensic Psychologist with the British Psychological Society which involves supervised practice in my current role and submitting work for assessment.

Q Have you any fond memories of Tong? I really loved my time at Tong, I couldn't imagine my school years being better anywhere else! I have loads of memories but the one thing that I always remember is the colour coding of the paint work in the different blocks- red for C block, blue for D block I think- it's weird how I remember that! I also remember how motivational and supportive the staff were, it always felt to me like they truly wanted every student to do their best.

Q) Did you have a favourite teacher? If so who and why? I was very lucky to have been taught by some amazing and passionate teachers during my years at Tong so I am going to feel a bit mean picking out a few special ones. I do think that there are some who need mentioning though- Ms Clacy was the most amazing history teacher in the world, she made every lesson so enjoyable and even managed to make early 19th Century politics seem interesting- hats off to her for that! I also had the pleasure of Mrs Symons for English Literature A-level, she made everything we studied come to life, I always remember her saying 'my dears, please don't ever let your relationships become 'dessicated conjunctions'' when we were reading Alan Bennett's Talking Heads! I also had Mrs Carvis as my form tutor and Mr Wilkinson as Head of Sixth Form, it's safe to say I was very well looked after.

Q) Have you a piece of advice for our current students? One piece of advice I would have for current students is spend time thinking about what you want to do after you leave and pick a career you really want to do, I get up every morning and look forward to going to work because I picked something I love and that is worth more than any salary. Also work hard, lots of people miss opportunities because they don't want to work hard and feel that they should be given opportunities, hard work always pays off in the end.

 Alumni Q&A - Sabhita Raju

Next we travel all the way to Nairobi in Kenya to meet up with Sabhita Raju who attended Tong 1986 to 1991.  Here’s her story!

Q) What job/study are you doing right now and tell us a little about it? Currently I am the Humanitarian Affairs Advisor for the Spanish Chapter of Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders) covering Kenya, Somalia, Yemen, Ethiopia, India and Eritrea. The current role is something I fell into rather than planned, and I provide contextual analysis of those countries and humanitarian issues more generally. What does that really mean?... I figure out what is going on in a country/region and develop strategies to help get our people and activities into a country so we can provide medical and emergency assistance in areas of conflict or natural disasters. I help figure out how to get in, and assess what risks there are to our presence, and come up with ideas and options of how to ensure we can get on with the job without doing any harm or annoying any group - especially if they carry lots of guns and like to kill people. 

I spent the last 18 months running a managing programme in Somalia, so this is a little calmer and less dangerous which my friends tell me is a good thing! The beach in Mogadishu is lovely, by the way, and you get fresh lobster straight off the beach for only $1!!! 

The bulk of my work life has been working on conflict analysis and political mediation. Essentially trying to get political rivals or government and opposition parties to come together and resolve their differences without resorting to violence or oppressive actions. Allowed to me learn lots, see wonderful parts of the world and have the most amazing adventures. Though a few of them did occasionally include running away from grenades and riots.

Q) Did you do any further/higher education? I went on to the University of Keele after Tong, believing I wasn't from the right background to try for Oxbridge. Opted to do a Foundation course before, I thought, studying American Studies as a results of various conversations with Paddy Symons. Became much more excited about international relations and switched to that, laying the foundation for a very global professional and personal life thereafter. Managed to pretty well blag my way into Cambridge for my Master's, and had a wonderful time at both places making lifelong friends.

Q) Can you share a couple of fond memories of your time at Tong?  I remember some of the good times spent in the Sixth Form common room on the Fussball table. As I recall, Ruth Elkin and I took on some of the guys and did really well! The trip to Stratford Upon Avon where I saw my first Shakespeare play - it gave me a love and passion for the theatre that stayed with me to this day. 

Q) Did you have a favourite teacher? If so who and why? I don't think I had one particular favourite, though I cannot but highlight Paddy Symons and his ferocious yelling that spurred me on and inspired also. And a history teacher I had at GCSE, Mrs H or W something.... so bad I can't remember her name, but she always seemed to make history somehow come to life and seem relevant to a bored 15 year old - it even prompted me to take it up at A-level though I didn't do so well! It was a very hard paper!!!

Q) Have you a piece of advice for our current students - Never think that coming from a relatively small city or humble background should stop you from chasing the highest levels in life and believing you can achieve them. I have travelled the world and met a lot of people at all levels, including the highest. They are just people at the end of the day, some smart and some not so smart, and being a girl or boy from Tong and from Bradford makes you as good as any of them - and probably more grounded and in touch with reality.

Oh, and take really good notes in class - they will be your saviour when it comes to exams!

 Alumni Q&A - Latha Reghu

For our next alumni feature we interview Latha Reghu (or Latha Raveendran as she was at school).  We have chosen Latha because she made a conscious choice not to go to uni but to pursue a successful career after leaving the sixth form.  Here’s her story:

Q) What years were you at Tong?  What A-levels did you do? I attended Tong from 1978 to 1983 and studied A-level English Literature and History.  We did General Studies then too.

Q) What job/study are you doing either right now or in the past? Tell us a little about it. Quite soon after my A levels my parents and I moved to London. I had three job offers and I accepted the offer from Barclays Bank and started in Jamaica Rd, Bermondsey.  I joined as a “quiet” junior in 1985 making tea and coffee for the senior staff. In those days there weren't many women in senior positions in the Bank; women were pushed into cashiering, supervising, secretarial or receptionist roles. I had a great Manager who saw I was a capable individual and gave me opportunities to develop my career and within a year I had been promoted three times. I was fortunate to move from branch to branch and lucky enough to meet a few famous people on the way - Simon le Bon, Danny Baker and Floella Benjamin. The Banking environment doesn’t stand still and I have been very lucky to achieve many promotions and challenges.  Currently I am enjoying my role as an International Assurance Manager in Global Risk travelling to our Corporate Banking offices all over the world.

Q) Did you do any further/higher education? Being an only child my parents didn’t want me to be away from them, so I didn’t go to University after my A levels. I have though completed the professional qualification which is recognised by global banks- the IFS School of Finance, CSD – Commercial & Advanced Commercial lending.

Q) Can you share a couple of fond memories of your time at Tong? I have so many fond memories of my time at Tong, too many to list. We went to Stratford upon Avon for a week and we had to pitch our tents on the camp site, even though we had been practising how to pitch the tent we couldn’t do it and we were in hysterics. I must say the most favourite of mine though was the Friday disco at lunch time.

Q) Did you have a favourite teacher? If so who and why? I had several favourite teachers, Mr Symons because he was always encouraging us to be ourselves, Mr Wilkinson because he made Modern History such an easy topic and Mrs Doman for being tough, all of them were so supportive and understanding and of course Mr Elliott our Biology teacher, all the girls used to just sit there and look at his blue eyes.

Q) Have you a piece of advice for our current students? Believe in yourself, and never have any doubts about your ability. There will be lots of challenges, think of these as little tests which you will learn to perfect as you develop and learn from them. Sometimes a Mentor can help, just to bounce off your ideas and support you on your journey and never give up.

Alumni Q&A - Ste Softley

Next up on the celebrated Tong High School alumni is Ste Softley, he attended between 1991 and 1996.  What a story he has to tell! He is now a Producer for BBC Radio 2!

Q) What job/study are you doing right now and tell us a little about it? I am a producer for BBC Radio 2. The shows I look after currently are Weekend Wogan and Sunday Night with Michael Ball, and I am also responsible for the music played on Johnny Walker’s Sounds of the 70s and The Alex Lester Show, as well as being on the playlist panel.

Q) Did you do any further/higher education? Yes, following my A-levels (and a year out working at Riva Bingo on Tong Street to save the pennies for higher education) I went onto study English and Communication Studies at The University of Liverpool from 1997 – 2000.

Q) Can you share a couple of fond memories of your time at Tong?  I have many, my memory serves me very well as I can still remember the entire layout of the old school, pretty much everybody who taught me and fellow pupils. From Year 9 to 11 I was in Mr. Morris’ form. Most of my memories involve my partner in crime/study Nicola Holt (now Ross). Anybody who remembers me will recall that we were pretty much inseparable, often being sent out of class for sniggering, and that was when we decided to turn up. However, we did work hard!  Sixth form was a real highlight for me, I felt like a grown up being able to drink coffee indoors instead of having to go outside for dinner breaks in the rain and wander off to the chippy in Birkenshaw. There was a smugness that came with being able to wear your own clothes (which soon became a pressure not to be seen in the same items too frequently!), being warm indoors and catching lifts with mates who could drive and were lucky enough to have a car, driving past the long bus queues. And the “free periods” which should have been spent in the Learning Centre but were actually spent in the common room playing cards, drinking coffee and hiding from teachers on the rampage for late homework (never me, I shall hasten to add).

Q) Did you have a favourite teacher? If so who and why? Many. Even the ones that I believed were enemies at the time, I look back on – now I am of a similar age, if not older than them – and realise they were only doing their job, and telling me off was part of that, no matter how unfair I felt they were. Yes, they are human too. Standout teachers included:  Ms Garnett - a fantastic teacher, I can still remember her lessons reading “The Crucible” and “Roll of Thunder Hear my Cry” and reading the Dorothy Parker poem, “Resumé” that was on the wall of her classroom. I would love to hear from her again!Mrs Caine – my form teacher in 6th form. Funny to think that she left to have a baby just as I was sitting A-level art; that baby will now be the same age as I was then!  Mr Neale – Taught me A-level English and Communication Studies. Again I can remember his lesson so well, he had a brilliant way of making you understand texts: “Death of a Salesman”, “Othello”. I actually think I owe him a massive thank you for my A’s in both English Literature and Communication Studies for A-level. Again, would love to hear from him again, a really really great teacher, the kind you always remember. Of course – Mr Wilkinson, who treated us like grown-ups and with respect, but no nonsense.

Q) Have you a piece of advice for our current students?  The only thing that will stop you from doing anything is yourself. So work hard, always keep one eye on the goal…and have fun along the way. And never believe that because of your background or beginnings that you can’t determine your future.

Alumni Q&A - Amir Mohammed

For our November alumni of the month we catch up with Amir Mohammed who is currently in the Czech Republic.  He says “I began Tong School in 2001 and left in 2008, also attending Sixth Form at TYM. I wanted to study science at University so for A-levels I did Chemistry (A), Biology (B), Sociology (B) and ICT (B)”

Q) What job/study are you doing right now and tell us a little about it?  I am currently in my third year in the Czech Republic studying General Medicine.  At first, I was not too keen on the idea of studying abroad as it was not something I ever thought I would be doing, but after being here for over two years I can honestly say I love it and wouldn’t change a thing. Yes there are times when work is hard and exams are getting close but there are also times when you can relax and keep books closed for a while which is always pleasant.

Q) Where have you done your higher education? I did my first degree at the University of Bradford from 2008-2011 and I am now studying General Medicine in the Czech Republic.

Q) Can you share a couple of fond memories of your time at Tong? People always say University is the best time of your life. I do not completely agree, my time at Tong School is by far the best time of my life for several reasons; not only where the teachers so friendly they were always there and I really did see them more as friends than teachers and this did really help me through my time at school and Sixth Form and for this I always be grateful

Q) Did you have a favourite teacher? If so who and why? It’s hard to name just one of my favourite teachers as I had many. But if I had to choose one it would have to be our A level Chemistry teacher Mrs McEnhill, not only was she always called in when we needed help or needed extra lessons, she would always offer to come on weekends and help us in any way she could (however, there are several teachers who were a close second!).

Q) Have you a piece of advice for our current students?   I would say enjoy your time at Tong School, it will pass so quickly and you will definitely miss it when you leave. Try to get involved in as many things as you can there as they will help you in the future. The staff there are amazing so any issue you do have there will always be someone there who can help you.

 Alumni Q&A - Laura Stephenson

For this month’s alumni we feature our first TYM student.  TYM was the Tong and Yorkshire Martyrs Sixth Form College.  It was the complete merger of the sixth forms of both schools from 2002 to 2008.  We’d like you to meet Laura Stephenson who did her A-levels at TYM from 2005-2007 having been a YM student before that.  She did four A-levels in Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Psychology and is now a Qualified Medical Doctor. 

Q) What job/study are you doing right now and tell us a little about it? I am now a Qualified Medical Doctor. I started working as Junior Doctor in Hull in August 2013; over the year I am working in psychiatry, medicine of the elderly and general surgery. These are all hospital jobs which are designed to help me choose what type of Doctor I want to be in the future.

Q) Tell us about your higher education?  I went to University to study Medicine. I started my studying at The University of Bradford, Clinical Sciences which I used as an access course to progress into medicine. After my first year I transferred to the University of Leeds. I graduated in 2013 with an MBChB in Medicine.  Whilst at Leeds I took a gap year to do a degree in psychology. So I also graduated with a BSc in Psychology in 2011.

Q) Can you share a couple of fond memories of your time at TYM? TYM were some of the best years of my life. I am still in touch with so many of the friends that I made there. A particularly fond memory involved a project we were asked to do for psychology. Instead of producing a simple informative handout for the class, my overly enthusiastic friends and I decided to make a movie; using the medium of drama to demonstrate some of our key psychological theories and studies. The outcome was HILARIOUS!

Q) Did you have a favourite teacher? If so who and why? I can't say I had one single favourite teacher whilst at TYM. I loved them all. They were tough enough on me to make me work hard but kind and supportive enough to help me get through the difficult times. If it wasn't for them I wouldn't be where I am today and for that I am eternally grateful. I must also say that even staff who were not my subject teachers played a very important part of my education. Thank you

Q) Have you a piece of advice for our current students?  Never let anybody tell you you are not good enough to do something. Only you are in charge of your own destiny. If you want something badly enough you WILL get it in the end. Keep trying all you need to do is find one other person who believes in you as much as you believe in yourself. Pick yourself up from the knock downs, brush off, learn from them and try even harder next time. Perseverance is essential!

  Alumni Q&A - Richard Mortimer

Richard Mortimer attended Tong from 1993 to 1996.  We caught up with him in London where he now lives and works as the Editor of an International Fashion Magazine.

Q) What job/study are you doing right now and tell us a little about it? I'm currently the Editor of Ponystep Magazine - an international biannual fashion magazine. I also work a Freelance Fashion Consultant and Art Director. My daily routine is taken up mainly with the magazine. My position there means I oversee pretty much everything. I work on securing all the advertising, which means lots of meeting with the Fashion Houses of Paris and Milan - a nice perk of the job! I essentially commission the entire magazine. I liaise with celebrity agents, journalists and photographers to pull together the right teams for each feature. I oversee the printing and handle the distribution of the magazine. I have a small but efficient team that help with things too!

Q) Did you do any further/higher education? I was in and out of higher education. I think by the time I was 18, I was so ready to venture out into the world, and try and make something of my life. For me I had studied enough, but I know others really enjoy the process. I have never regretted not finishing my education, but then I was lucky enough to find my way into an industry that never questioned it.

Q) Can you share a couple of fond memories of your time at Tong? More than specific memories, I think more general things spring to mind; the excitement before the Christmas holidays was always a really nice time; the first day back from summer; being sent home when the boiler was broken (which it did frequently)... These are times I remember fondly. And weirdly, the smell of the school. It no longer exists as it did, but the smell of the old building now seems strangely comforting.

Q) Did you have a favourite teacher? If so who and why? Other than Wilkie (!) I was always really drawn to Mrs Carvis who tough me English and Communication Studies. I was always so impressed with her teaching technique. She was one of the few teachers that spoke to her class as young adults and not children. Her manner was always soft yet firm and I never once saw her lose her temper. She encouraged me immensely and was always a great believer in me.

Q) Have you a piece of advice for our current students? Never think you are not good enough. I moved to London at 18, embarrassed about growing up on a council estate in Bradford. I quickly realised that in the real world people don't care where you come from, but only who you are, and if you are up to the job.

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