Notable Alumni | Repton School

Notable Alumni

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OLD REPTONIAN SOCIETY

NOTABLE ALUMNI

Through the centuries many Reptonians have gone on to achieve notable success in business, the arts, sport and philanthropy. The Arch is our annual magazine that celebrates the Old Reptonian community often shining a spotlight on trailblazers.

Below are just a few of our notable Alumni.

ALUMNI

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Harold Abrahams CBE -
Olympic gold medallist

(Mitre 1914)

Undoubtedly the most famous of Reptonian Olympians is Harold Abrahams (Mitre 1914) - his pioneering achievements were the subject of the iconic film, Chariots of Fire. He competed in the 1920 Antwerp Games and the 1924 Paris Games, as well as captaining the British team in 1928.

He won the public schools' 100 yards and long-jump championships in 1918, and at Cambridge he scored three wins in the freshmen's sports and was immediately selected for the Olympic Games in Antwerp. He won a unique eight victories at the 100 yards, 440 yards, and long jump in the annual Oxford versus Cambridge sports.

 At the 1924 AAA championship Abrahams won the 100 yards in 9.9 seconds but was still a fifth of a second outside the British record set the previous year by Liddell. In Paris the eliminating heats were to be staged on a Sunday and Liddell, a strong sabbatarian, confined himself to the 200 and 400 metres, in which he took the bronze medal in the shorter event and the gold medal for 400 metres in a time which gave him the metric world record. Abrahams equalled the Olympic record in the 100 metres in the second round with 10.6 seconds and next day came through (again in 10.6 seconds) to beat by inches the world record holder. Abrahams later said that the next three-and-three-quarter hours were the worst in his life because now he knew he could win. And win he did, with a time of 10.52 seconds. He thus set three Olympic record-equalling performances in the space of twenty-six hours.

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Bunny Austin –
Tennis Player

(Orchard 1920)

Henry Wilfred "Bunny" Austin (Orchard 1920) was an English tennis player who, for 74 years, was the last Briton to reach the final of the men's singles at Wimbledon, until Andy Murray did so in 2012. He was also a finalist at the 1937 French Open and a championship winner at Queen's Club.

Along with Fred Perry, he was a vital part of the British team that won the Davis Cup in three consecutive years (1933–35). He is also remembered as the first tennis player to wear shorts! Austin also pioneered the design of the modern tennis racquet by inventing the 'Streamline' – a racquet with a shaft that splits into three segments – allowing for aerodynamic movement.

Following his time at Repton, Austin went on to study at Pembroke College, Cambridge.

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Carole Blackshaw –
Businesswoman & Lady Mayoress of London

(Abbey 1970)

Carole Blackshaw (Abbey 1970) was the first female Reptonian when, in the Michaelmas term of 1970, Repton began admitting girls. Blackmore led the charge and by the 1990s, the school was fully co-educational. She described how it felt walking to Repton for the first time, saying she valued the fact that personal opinions were appreciated and were more discussed as well as having free thought rather than being educated “parrot-fashion”.

Blackmore established her own aviation business and later became the Lady Mayoress of London.

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Tom Chambers –
Actor

(New 1990)

Tom Chambers (New 1990) is an English actor best known for his roles in BBC series Casualty, Holby City and Waterloo Road, as well as winning the sixth series of Strictly Come Dancing.

Following his time at Repton, Tom attended the National Youth Music Theatre and Guildford School of Acting. 

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Jeremy Clarkson –
Journalist and Broadcaster

(Priory 1973)

Jeremy Clarkson (Priory 1973) is a broadcaster, author, journalist and farmer.

From a career as a local journalist in northern England, Clarkson rose to public prominence as a presenter of the original format of Top Gear in 1988. Since the mid-1990s, he has become a recognised public personality, regularly appearing on British television presenting his own shows for BBC and appearing as a guest on other shows. As well as motoring, Clarkson has produced programmes and books on subjects such as history and engineering and most recently has been the star of a documentary following him learning to farm his own land in the Cotswolds. 

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Serena Cole -
First female black president of Trinity College

(Field 2019)

Serena Cole's (Field 2019) raw talent and academic ability was highly prized throughout her education at Repton Prep and Repton. Indeed Serena's tutor and teacher, Repton's Head of Science Stuart Ingleston-Orme, described her as "simply outstanding" musing that she could have chosen any path. 

Serena truly embodies the Repton spirit that participation in whatever arena fosters wellbeing. During her time at the School, apart from her academic achievements, Serena was awarded the Arkwright Scholarship for Engineering, achieved her Grade 7 in piano and baritone horn, her Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award, was a Flight Sergeant in RAF cadets and played in goal for our senior hockey team.

Her advice to others? "Always make time to do what you are passionate about. The more extracurriculars I take on, the more time I find that I have in the day. This is counter intuitive but I find that it works for things that I enjoy or care about. It also applies to relaxation and spending time with friends and family, which is incredibly important for maintaining my mental health and self-care."

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Roald Dahl –
Author

(Priory 1930)

Roald Dahl (Priory 1930) is one of the most famous British novelists, whose books have sold more than 250 million copies worldwide. Over the last half a century many of his children's stories have been adapted for film and television. He has also written a host of short stories, poems and screenplays. 

During his time at Repton, Dahl and his fellow Reptonians were invited to sample chocolate bars from the nearby Cadbury factory and he dreamed of inventing a new chocolate bar that would impress Mr Cadbury. This was the inspiration behind one of his most famous stories: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

After finishing his schooling, in August 1934 Dahl crossed the Atlantic on the RMS Nova Scotia and hiked through Newfoundland and in November 1939, Dahl joined the Royal Air Force as an aircraftman.

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Blair Dunlop –
Musician

(School House 2005)

Blair Dunlop, award-winning British singer-songwriter and guitarist has now released 4 albums, 2 ep’s and toured around the globe. All of this in a short 5-year career is astounding alone but what sets Blair apart from his peers is the lyrical and musical maturity with which he writes. His third album ‘Gilded’ was released in May 2016 on his own label – Gilded Wings – and was widely acclaimed gaining BBC Radio 2 Playlist status for the two single releases (‘The Egoist’ and ‘356’).  2018 Blair saw the release of his 4th album ‘Notes From An Island’ on his own label to rave reviews.  

Blair also made is film debut whilst still at school, playing a young Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), directed by Tim Burton. 

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James Fenton –
Poet

(Hall 1963)

James Fenton (Hall 1963) is an English poet, journalist, literary critic and a former Oxford Professor of Poetry.

Whilst at Repton Fenton acquired an enthusiasm for the work of W.H. Auden and when he went up to Magdalen College, Oxford met John Fuller, who happened to be writing A Reader's Guide to W.H. Auden at the time, which further encouraged that enthusiasm. Auden became perhaps the most significant single influence on Fenton's own work.

Fenton won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize in 1984 for Children in Exile: Poems 1968-1984 and the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 2007. The American composer Charles Wuorinen set several of his poems to music, and Fenton served as librettist for Wuorinen's opera Haroun and the Sea of Stories which is based on Salman Rushdie's novel.

He has said, "The writing of a poem is like a child throwing stones into a mineshaft. You compose first, then you listen for the reverberation."

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C B Fry –
England Cricket Captain and Author

(Cross 1885)

Charles Burgess Fry (Cross 1885) was an English sportsman, teacher, writer, politician, editor and publisher, who is best remembered for his career as a cricketer who won a scholarship to Repton and then Wadham College Oxford. 

His greatest strength academically was in the Classics. At Repton he won the school prizes for Latin Verse, Greek Verse, Latin Prose and French. Repton has a strong tradition in football and Fry played for the under-16 Repton football side in his first term, aged thirteen. 

He went on to captain both the school's cricket and football teams, and also won prizes for athletics. At the age of sixteen he played for the Casuals in the F.A. Cup. He was so revered for his unbounded abilities that when Fry was only twenty-one,Vanity Fair published a caricature of him in its issue of 19 April 1894, with the comment: "He is sometimes known as "C.B."; but it has lately been suggested that he should be called 'Charles III'.

He had an illustri“us career as an England c“icke”er and captained England in his final six Test matches in 1912, winning four and drawing two. His gravestone sits in the grounds of St Wystan’s Church within the grounds of Repton School and simply reads: “The Ultimate All Rounder”.

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Graeme Garden OBE –
Author, Playwright and Broadcaster

(Brook 1956)

David Graeme Garden OBE (Brook 1956) is a Scottish comedian, actor, author, artist and television presenter, best known as a member of The Goodies and a regular panellist on BBC Radio 4's 'antidote to panel games’ I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue.

Garden qualified in medicine from King's College London, but never practiced, saying: "I don't think I would have done it as well. It's an interesting question – whether you've contributed more to the vast store of human enjoyment by doing comedy or by being a doctor, but the answer for me is that I don't think I would have been as successful or as happy being a doctor."

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Will Hughes –
Professional Footballer

(New 2008)

Will Hughes is a professional Premier League footballer, who currently plays as a midfielder for Premier League club, Crystal Palace. 

Having started his educational journey at Repton Prep, Will Hughes (New 2008) was an integral part of the 1st XI football team, reaching the final of the Independent Schools Football Association U15 cup in 2010.

Having graduated with a scholarship from Derby County, he made his first-team debut during the 2012-2013 season. Hughes made his move to the Premier League with Watford in 2017, helping the Hornets reach the FA Cup final in 2019 and maintain top-flight football for three seasons. Following Watford's relegation in 2020, Hughes played a central role in their promotion campaign the following season. 

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Christopher Isherwood –
Novelist

(Latham 1917)

Christopher Isherwood (Latham, 1917) is a prolific author of outstanding note. His fame rests on novels such as ‘Goodbye to Berlin,’ (later adapted into the musical Cabaret), his theatrical collaborations with W.H. Auden, and his refreshingly candid memoir ‘Christopher and his Kind.’ The experience of Repton and the friendships he made here were a key influence on his development as a writer.

He arrived at The Hall in Repton in January 1919, and at the age of fourteen found himself in the top form of the lower school where most of the boys were nearly all a year older than him. However, he thrived from the outset, particularly in anything literary or cultural. He was very fond of poetry at Repton, compiling a handwritten anthology of it for his own pleasure, and towards the end of his time here several of his poems appeared in The Reptonian under the pseudonym Cacoëthes.

Isherwood studied and wrote in Berlin and then moved to the United States. While living in Hollywood, California, Isherwood befriended Truman Capote, an up-and-coming young writer who would be influenced by Isherwood's Berlin Stories, most specifically in the traces of the story "Sally Bowles" that surface in Capote's famed novella Breakfast at Tiffany's. 

During his lifetime he wrote over 40 works and is one of Repton's most prized alumni. 

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Radha Kaushal-Bolland –
Chef and 2022 MasterChef Finalist

(Garden 2011)

Radha Kaushal-Bolland (Garden 2011), is a chef and series 18 finalist of the hit BBC cookery show, MasterChef. 

Having graduated from Huddersfield University Radha took the leap to follow her passion and retrained as a private chef. She gave up her career with the Yorkshire Ambulance Service and spent lockdown honing her cookery skills to establish her own business as a private chef. She said: "At an early age I started watching cookery shows with my family and when I watched the chefs cook on the TV I would feel the adrenaline rush and a pure passion for the creativity and uniqueness of the food which was being presented. I have always been creative and have had a love for trying new foods, so this career change made sense."

Radha has now set up her own business using the knowledge and skills from MasterChef as a foundation to create and build her own private dining experience. 

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Fleur Marshall –
Royal Navy Surgeon-Commodore in the Royal Navy

(Abbey 1988)

Surgeon-Commodore Fleur Marshall (Abbey 1988) holds one of the most senior positions in the Royal Navy following her promotion in 2019 and is one of only seven women in top-flight leadership roles within the British military.

Reflecting on her time at Repton and her career to date, the advice she imparts to Reptonians is simple: "Make the most of every opportunity that you encounter – and there are so many at Repton. Be inquisitive and don't be daunted by doing something different or having ambitions that involve something new. I am the first person in my family to be a doctor and the first to join the Royal Navy. I am incredibly proud to be the Head of the Royal Navy Medical Service and to be the first female doctor to have this role. I am highly motivated to inspire others to aim for roles that may not have been held by people like them before – being a pioneer is fantastic and of course there are obstacles, but they are outweighed time and again by the benefits and the earned respect." 

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Shona McCallin MBE –
Hockey Player, Olympic and Commonwealth Gold Medallist

(Abbey 2008)

Shona McCallin MBE (Abbey 2008) is a field hockey player and was part of the Great Britain England Hockey team who won both Gold at the Rio 2016 Games and Bronze at the 2020 Toyko Games. More recently, she was an integral member of the history-making England side to win their first ever Commonwealth Gold medal at the Birmingham 2022 Games. 

Having started her playing career at the age of 6 player for Newark Otters, she quickly progressed through the ranks and ultimately captained the England side at the Junior World Cup. 

Having seen success with the England side in 2015 at the European Championships, she spent 18 months out of the game due to injury. Shona made a successful return to international hockey in mid-2019 and used her experience, excellent reading of the game and tenacity in midfield to guide GB to Tokyo 2020 bronze. 

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Adrian Newey OBE –
Chief Technical Officer of Red Bull Racing

(New 1972)

Adrian Newey OBE (New 1972) is considered one of the best engineers in Formula One, with his designs winning numerous titles and 185 Grands Prix. 

After gaining a first-class honours degree from the University of Southampton, he immediately began working in motorsport as a race engineer and soon after began designing racing cars. Since then, he has won ten Constructor Championships with three different Formula One teams and with seven different drivers winning the Drivers’ Championship driving his designs. 

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George Rainsford –
Actor

(Mitre 1996)

George Rainsford's (Mitre 1996) interest in acting began in Repton's 400 Hall. He went on to study Drama at Manchester University where he joined the National Youth Theatre before being selected for the Goldman Sachs scholarship to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. Roles in iconic BBC TV series' including Call The Midwife and Casualty have made him a household name, but it is his fundraising work that stands him apart.

When George's character in Casualty tested positive for Huntington's Disease he was contacted by individuals as well as family members affected by this rare neurological disorder of the central nervous system. Around 8,000 people in the UK have Huntington's and around 32,000 are at risk of developing the disease.

Moved by the stories he heard, George was inspired to start fundraising for The Huntington's Disease Association, embarking on the Druids Challenge - a 136km ultra marathon. Earlier this month, in the charity's 50th anniversary year, he was appointed as a Patron for the Association.

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Johnny Rozsa –
Icon

(Hall 1963)

Born and raised in Nairobi, the son of Jewish Hungarian-Czech parents, the life Johnny Rozsa (Hall 1963) came from on the African continent could not have been more far removed from the world he entered into. The grandmother who raised him, Selma Leibschutz, was a survivor of Auschwitz and Terezin, and Johnny has spent lockdown turning her own 30-page notes about her life into a soon-to-be-published book that charts their intertwined lives. 

Since the late 70’s Johnny Rozsa has been the photographer of choice for A-list celebrities from John Malkovich to Tina Turner, and Helena Bonham Carter to Hugh Grant. His epochal images have adorned the pages of Vogue, The New York Times and i-D Magazine, as well as the walls of The National Portrait Gallery in London, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, the Kunsthalle in Vienna, and the Kunstverein in Hanover. In early 2022 he will have a one-man photographic show held simultaneously in two art galleries in downtown New York. His images depict a genuine love and warmth for his subjects and his pieces are a treasured record of faces that are so familiar. 

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Georgie Twigg –
Hockey Player and Olympic Gold Medallist

(Field 2003)

Georgie Twigg (Field 2003) is a field hockey player and was part of the GB team who won gold at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. 

Her talent on the hockey pitch was honed at Repton and she was named England Hockey's Young Performance Player of the Year in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. She made her international debut at the 2010 Champions Trophy and in the same year she scored the winning goal in the bronze medal match at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi. Twigg was the youngest player in Great Britain's London 2012 Olympic squad where they took bronze. 

She has a professional career as a trainee city lawyer.

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Leah Wilkinson –
Hockey Player and Olympic Bronze Medallist

(Abbey 2003)

Across a stellar international career, Leah (Abbey 2003) has enjoyed plenty of highs for both Wales and Great Britain which culminated in her winning a bronze medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The defender proved age was no barrier, making her GB debut in October 2019 aged 32 and quickly establishing herself as one of the key members of the team in the run-up to the Games in Japan.

A central figure for Wales since her debut in 2004, in 2019 Leah set a new record by becoming the most capped Welsh sporting athlete of all time having played 169 times for the country.

 

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CONTACT DETAILS

The Old Reptonian Society
The Hall, Repton School,
Repton, Derbyshire. DE65 6FH

Tel: 01283 559320
EMAIL

OFFICERS
  • Julia Rushworth
    Alumni Relations Manager
EXECUTIVES
  • President: Nick M. Smith (Brook 1969)
  • President Emeritus: Rachel E. Bacon (Abbey 1986)
  • President Elect: Samantha J.F. Wilkinson (Abbey 1986)
  • Chairman: Nick C. Walford (Brook 1969)
  • Treasurer: John S. Wallis (Latham 1971)
  • Governors Representative: Matthew J.C. Needham (Priory 1980)

Ex-Officio:

  • Mr M J Semmence - Headmaster Repton
  • Mr N J Kew - Repton School Liaison Officer
  • Mrs A F Parish - Repton School Liaison Officer

Registered charity number - 1067418