Alumni Stories
Old Perseans

We are immensely proud of the achievements of our Old Perseans. The skills and values they learned whilst at The Perse enable them to make a tangible and positive impact in the world, across many sectors, including arts and culture, innovative research, politics, and business.

Drawn from a wide range of fields, you can browse profiles of some of our Old Perseans below and see how a Perse education can really make a difference.


  • William Reeve


    William Reeve


    Reeve went on from The Perse to University College Oxford, where he read Engineering, Economics and Management. Whilst at University, he completed a number of holiday placements, and became a business analyst upon graduation.

    Being a serial entrepreneur, Reeve has co-founded a number of companies, including, Fletcher Research (now NASDAQ:FORR), and Secret Escapes.

    He has served in a number of the leading internet business in the UK/Ireland as a founder, in an operating role, in a non-executive role, as an investor or sometimes a combination of the above.

    William is currently working as CEO of, non-Exec Chairman of Nutmeg, and non-Exec Director at Dunelm PLC. He has also held a number of non-executive roles at companies such as, Paddy Power, McKinsey & Co and Zoopla!. He also took part in the Channel 4 programme Undercover Boss.

  • Sir David Tang KBE


    Sir David Tang KBE


    Born in Hong Kong in 1954, Sir David Tang came to The Perse aged 13. He went on to King’s College London to read Philosophy and then Law.

    After starting a career as a solicitor, Sir David went on to found the Shanghai Tang fashion chain, which he sold in 2006 to the Swiss luxury brand holding company Richemont. His other interests included the China Clubs (Hong Kong, Peking and Singapore), Havana House, the Pacific Cigar Company, the Cipriani in Hong Kong and the China Tang restaurant at the Dorchester, London.

    A fervent supporter of philanthropy and the Arts, Sir David was knighted in the 2008 New Years’ Honours. He was also honoured by the French Government as Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2005, and received the award for Outstanding Achievement in Art and Design at the Asian Awards in 2014.

    Sir David wrote a lighthearted ‘Agony Uncle’ column for the Financial Times, and wrote his own obituary for them when he was diagnosed with cancer. He passed away on 29 August 2017.

  • Laurie Marsh


    Laurie Marsh


    Laurie attended The Perse from 1943-48, as a member of Hillel House, the School’s Jewish boarding house. Following two years’ National Service, he launched a hugely successful business career, with interests in property, film, and theatre. An early project involved him selling plastic mackintoshes following the Second World War; he obtained the official Mickey Mouse design from Disney for these mackintoshes after writing to the corporation himself.

    Later on, Laurie devoted himself to philanthropy. Not only was he an extraordinarily generous benefactor of The Perse, he also saved many theatres from closure or demolition, including the Theatre Royal in Bath. He served on the voting committee of the BAFTA awards, and also was a producer on over 75 films. Laurie’s memoir, The Philanthropist’s Tale, was published in 2016, detailing his life as an entrepreneur and his reasons for becoming a philanthropist.

Education and Academia

  • Jim Salzman


    Jim Salzman


    Professor Jim Salzman holds joint appointments at the University of California (UCLA and UC, Santa Barbara) as the Donald Bren Distinguished Professor of Environmental Law. He has published eight books and more than 80 articles.

    Professor Salzman studied at both Yale and Harvard Universities, becoming the first Harvard graduate to earn joint degrees in law and engineering. After working in roles for the government and the private sector, Professor Salzman returned to academia and has since focused his work on environmental policy.

    Professor Salzman has held positions at a number of prestigious institutions, including Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia and Duke Universities in The United States, Macquarie University in Australia, Catolica University in Portugal, Tel Aviv University in Israel, and Lund University in Sweden. Whilst at Duke University, Prof Salzman was twice named Professor of the Year by his students. He is the fifth most cited scholar in environmental law with over 110,000 downloads of his articles.

    As well as academia, Professor Salzman is active in the fields of practice and policy, serving as a Member of the government-appointed Trade and Environment Policy Advisory Committee and the National Drinking Water Advisory Committee , as well as advising several environmental non-profits

  • George Pattison


    George Pattison


    George Pattison is a leading British systematic theologian and Anglican priest. He went from The Perse to obtain a Bachelor of Divinity and MA from the University of Edinburgh, and a PhD from the University of Durham.

    He currently holds 1640 Chair of Divinity at the University of Glasgow. Prior to his appointment at the University of Glasgow, Pattison was Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford and a Canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford from 2004 to 2013.

    Pattison’s works range from historical, theological and philosophical engagement with the works of Hans Lassen Martensen, Søren Kierkegaard, Martin Heidegger and Fyodor Dostoyevsky to theological studies of the aesthetics of film and the visual arts. His latest work has engaged with philosophical notions of ontology, entering into the discussion about whether it is meaningful or helpful to speak of God in terms of “being”.

  • John Polkinghorne KBE


    John Polkinghorne KBE


    The Rev Dr John Polkinghorne KBE FRS (1948) was a theoretical physicist, theologian, writer, and Anglican priest. Pre-eminent in examining the relationship between science and religion, he was professor of Mathematical Physics at the University of Cambridge from 1968 to 1979.

    After leaving The Perse, Polkinghorne completed National Service in the Royal Army Education Corps from 1948-49. He went on to study Mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated in 1952 as the top undergraduate in his year. He completed his PhD in Physics in 1955, before accepting a postdoctoral Harkness Fellowship with the California Institute of Technology.

    He lectured at the University of Edinburgh from 1956 – 1958, before returning to teach at Cambridge. In 1968, Polkinghorne was made professor of Mathematical Physics at the University, a position he held until 1979, when he resigned to take up theological study at Westcott House.

    Polkinghorne became an ordained priest in 1982 and worked in Bristol and Kent, before returning to Cambridge as Dean of Chapel at Trinity Hall in 1986. In that year he also became the president of Queen’s College, a position which he held until his retirement in 1996.

    In 1997, Polkinghorne was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE); and in 2002 was awarded the Templeton Prize for his contributions to research at the interface between science and religion.

  • George Shackle

    George Shackle

    After leaving The Perse, Shackle started work as a bank clerk as his parents could not afford to put him through university. He studied in his own time for a University of London BA degree which he took in 1931. He started work on a PhD under the supervision of Friedrich Hayek at the LSE but switched to an interpretation of Keynes’s General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money. He obtained his doctorate in 1937.

    Following a number of academic posts, at the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Shackle was appointed to S-Branch, Sir Winston Churchill’s inner office of economists. Following the war, a short spell at the Cabinet Office under James Meade and at the University of Leeds led to appointment as Brunner Professor of Economics at the University of Liverpool, a post he held until his retirement in 1969.

    The majority of Shackle’s work was influenced by Keynes, and focused on challenging the conventional role of probability in Economics. He also made large contributions to the history of economic thought.

  • F R Leavis


    F R Leavis


    Frank Raymond Leavis was one of the most potent single influences on English studies in the earlier and middle part of the twentieth century. He championed seriousness and moral depth in literature and criticised what he considered the amateur belletrism of his time. He went from The Perse to Emmanuel College Cambridge, but did not take up his place until 1919, serving throughout the First World War as an ambulance bearer on the Western Front.

    He lectured at Emmanuel from 1925 but moved in the early 1930s to Downing College, where he was elected into a fellowship in 1936. In 1964 Leavis resigned his fellowship at Downing and took up visiting professorships at the Universities of York, Wales and Bristol. He was made a Companion of Honour in 1978.

    In 1932 with his wife, the former Queenie Dorothy Roth, author of the important Fiction and the Reading Public (1932), he founded Scrutiny, a quarterly journal of criticism that was published until 1953 and is regarded by many as his greatest contribution to English letters. Leavis believed that literature should be closely related to criticism of life and that it is therefore a literary critic’s duty to assess works according to the author’s and society’s moral position.

  • Henry Baker


    Henry Baker


    Dr Baker, whose father was a butler, attended a number of small schools in Cambridge before gaining a scholarship to The Perse, where he excelled in Mathematics and Classical Greek.  He was elected a Fellow of St John’s College in 1889 and in the same year won the Smith’s prize. Dr Baker would remain at Cambridge for the whole of his career, strongly influencing the teaching of pure mathematics in the university and in the rest of Great Britain.

    From 1914 until he retired in 1936 he was Lowndean Professor of Astronomy and Geometry. He justified the ‘astronomy’ title in his chair by lecturing on periodic orbits and other astronomical topics, but he continued to undertake research exclusively in pure mathematics.

    Inspired by Felix Klein to study algebraic function theory, he wrote the important Abel’s Theorem and the Allied Theory of Theta Functions in 1897 and another major contribution, Multiply Periodic Functions, in 1907. From 1911 he studied birational geometry, publishing his most important contribution, a six-volume masterpiece, Principles of Geometry, from 1922 to 1925. In 1943 Dr Baker published An Introduction to Plane Geometry.

    He was elected to a Fellowship of the Royal Society in 1898, was secretary of the Cambridge Philosophical Society in 1897 and won the De Morgan Medal of the London Mathematical Society in 1905.

Law and Politics

  • Dr Julian Huppert


    Dr Julian Huppert


    Dr Huppert grew up in the city of Cambridge, and became a prefect at The Perse before going on to read Natural Sciences at Cambridge University, staying on to do a PhD in Biological Chemistry on unusual structures of DNA. He was elected a Junior Research Fellow of Trinity in 2004, and became a fellow of Clare College in 2009.

    Dr Huppert is now a University Lecturer at the University of Cambridge, and Deputy Director of the Centre for Scientific Computing at the University of Cambridge. He also set up a small award-winning biotech company. He researches various aspects of science and technology policy, including how evidence can be used to develop rational public policy positions. He is the Founding Director of Jesus College’s Intellectual Forum which covers a wide range of academic interests across the College.

    From 2010-2015, Huppert was the Member of Parliament for Cambridge. As an MP, he focused on a wide range of issues, from civil liberties to the environment, and was made the ISPA ‘Internet Hero of the Year’ in 2013.

    Dr Huppert is a Lay Member of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group, a member of the Royal Society’s Science Policy Advisory Group, and a Trustee of DrugScience. He is also a Visiting Professor at the Policy Institute, King’s College London.

  • Anthony Browne


    Anthony Browne


    After attending The Perse, Anthony studied Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. He then began a career in journalism, writing as an economics and business correspondent for the BBC. He later worked for The Observer and then The Times newspapers as environment editor. He became chief political correspondent at the latter, covering the Iraq war.

    Following this, Anthony worked in policy. As a leader of the think tank, Policy Exchange, he advised David Cameron, and later Boris Johnson during his time as Mayor of London. He also became CEO of the British Bankers’ Association from 2012 to 2017. In 2019, Anthony was elected as MP for South Cambridgeshire, and since 2020 he has been Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Environment.

  • Sir Mark Potter


    Sir Mark Potter


    Sir Mark Potter is an English judge who was President of the Family Division and Head of Family Justice for England and Wales from 2005 – 2010.

    Sir Mark left The Perse to read law at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. He was called to the commercial Bar in 1961, and took silk in 1980.

    From 1988 to 1996 he was a Judge of the High Court of Justice, and was appointed a Lord Justice of Appeal in 1996. In 2005, he became President of the Family Division.

    During his presidency, Sir Mark ruled on a number of landmark legal cases, and oversaw the implementation of measures designed to increase transparency in the family courts system. Sir Mark retired as a Judge in 2010, and returned to the field of commercial law as an arbitrator at Fountain Court chambers.


  • Anton Fries


    Anton Fries


    Surgeon Commander Anton Fries was an active member of the Combined Cadet Force before leaving The Perse. After taking a gap year with the Army, he studied medicine at the University of Cambridge. Cdr Fries then returned to the armed forces, joining the navy as a surgeon. He served in the Philippines, Taiwan (Chinese Taipei), Afghanistan and elsewhere, specialising in reconstructive surgery.

    After leaving active service, Cdr Fries joined the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust as a plastic surgeon, whilst still consulting with the Royal Navy. Since 2020, he has been Assistant Professor and Chief of the Division of Plastic Surgery, University of Texas Health, San Antonio. Cdr Fries still performs pro bono work, in particular cleft lip repairs in the Philippines.

    In 2020, Cdr Fries returned to The Perse to deliver an insightful 42 Society lecture on his experiences in both the armed forces and the health service.

  • Javid Abdelmoneim


    Javid Abdelmoneim


    Dr Abdelmoneim was born and raised in the UK to Sudanese Iranian parents. He graduated in medicine from University College London in 2003 and undertook postgraduate training in emergency medicine. After gaining MRCP (Membership of the Royal College of Physicians, London) and obtaining a diploma in tropical medicine, he joined Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in 2009 as a field volunteer and spent six months in Iraq then another six in Haiti.

    Since then, he has worked on MSF projects in Lebanon for Syria, South Sudan and Sierra Leone during the Ebola crisis, where he wore a miniature camera attached to his goggles, to provide a unique ‘Dr’s eye view’ inside the high risk zone for the BBC programme Panorama.  In the summer of 2015 he joined the MSF UK board as a trustee of the organization.

    Dr Abdelmoneim has presented BBC series No More Boys and Girls, How to Lose Weight Well and documentary The Truth About Alcohol.

    Dr Abdelmoneim works as an emergency medicine registrar in Chelsea & Westminster hospital in London and is a presenter on Al Jazeera’s The Cure, a series looking at some of the world’s most intractable health problems and the inspirational people working to find a cure.

    In 2022, Dr Abdelmoneim returned to MSF full-time.

  • Dr Philip Graham


    Dr Philip Graham


    Philip Graham is emeritus professor of Child Psychiatry at the Institute of Child Health, London. He was a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street, London for over 25 years.

    He has acted as dean of the Institute of Child Health, London, co-ordinating consultant to the World Health Organisation Child Mental Health Programme, Chair of the National Children’s Bureau and President of the European Society for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He has written columns for The Guardian, and his recent publications include The End of Adolescence and So Young, So Sad, So Listen.

Performing Arts and Culture

  • Alastair Whatley


    Alastair Whatley


    Whatley discovered his passion for theatre whilst at The Perse, and first turned his hand to directing during a school production of The Winter’s Tale. He enjoyed this experience so much that he withdrew his application to study history at Cambridge, instead enrolling on a drama degree at Royal Holloway & Bedford College.

    He set up the Original Theatre Company in 2004, a venture which has gone from strength to strength. After spending the first few years producing Shakespeare plays on shoestring budgets, Whatley’s theatre company is now thriving and tours at least 3 plays across the country to over 150,000 people every year. His production of Birdsong completed its third tour in 2015, and has been seen by over 200,000 people across the country.

    In 2020 WhatsOnStage deemed Original Theatre as “truly the connoisseurs of virtual theatre”. The company employed more than 100 freelances and reached over 30,000 households during the pandemic. Virtual productions include Barnes’ PeopleA Splinter of IceVIRALBeing Mr Wickham, A Cold Supper Behind Harrods, and The System.

  • Colin McFarlane


    Colin McFarlane


    Colin McFarlane is a Hollywood and television actor and voice artist. After leaving The Perse he studied Drama at Loughborough University.

    He has made television appearances in The Fast ShowJudge John DeedOutlander, Jonathan CreekDeath in Paradise, Father Brown, The Thin Blue Line, M.I. High, Jeeves and Wooster and Black Books. His film work has included Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Triology where he played Gillian B Loeb.

    Colin voiced God and Goliath for Testament: The Bible in Animation, JJ and Scoop in Bob the Builder, Bulgy in Thomas & Friends, and PC Malcolm Williams in Fireman Sam. He has voiced numerous characters in the Doctor Who franchise. He is the narrator on the game show The Cube and voices Greg in the Buzz! video game series.

    He is also known for his appearances on popular soap operas, including Coronation StreetHolby City and Eastenders.

    In 2013, Colin appeared with Lenny Henry in a critically acclaimed revival of August Wilson’s Fences at the Duchess Theatre in London. The pre-West End tour brought the production to Cambridge, where a number of Colin’s OP friends caught up with him.

  • Kenneth Tharp


    Kenneth Tharp


    Kenneth is a key figure on the contemporary dance scene. He danced with the internationally acclaimed London Contemporary Dance Theatre and other leading companies during a 25 year career as a performer, choreographer, teacher and director.

    From September 2007 to November 2016, Kenneth headed The Place, the UK’s leading centre for contemporary dance development. As Chief Executive, Kenneth had responsibility for the overall leadership, strategy and management of the organisation, acting as the public face of the organisation, and as an ambassador for The Place’s work. In May 2018, Kenneth was named as the new Director of the Africa Centre.

    He served on the UK Council of the Creative Industries Federation 2015-16. He is a Patron of Akademi. He was a finalist in the inaugural Black British Business Awards (2014), and a judge for the 2016 awards. In recognition of his services to dance, he was awarded an OBE in 2003, and a CBE in 2017.

    In September 2015 Kenneth was named among the Evening Standard’s annual Progress1000 list of ‘The 1000 most influential Londoners 2015’ and was named in the 2017 Powerlist of Britain’s 100 most influential people of African and African Caribbean heritage.

    In September 2014 he came out of retirement as a dancer to appear in The Elder’s Project at Sadler’s Wells. The cast reunited to perform at the Southbank Centre in April 2015 and in Malmo, Sweden in September 2016. The work was nominated for an Olivier Award.

    Since 2018, he has been Director of the Africa Centre.

  • David Gilmour CBE


    David Gilmour CBE


    Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, David Gilmour is best known for his work as the guitarist and co-lead vocalist of the rock band Pink Floyd. It is estimated that by 2012 the group had sold over 250 million records worldwide.

    In 2005, Mr Gilmour was appointed CBE for his services to music. He was awarded with the Outstanding Contribution title at the 2008 Q Awards and in 2011 Rolling Stone magazine ranked him number 14 in their list of the greatest guitarists of all time.

    The young David Gilmour was teaching himself to play the guitar by the time he arrived at The Perse. He is on record as not having enjoyed his time at the School. While here, however, he met future Pink Floyd guitarist Syd Barrett and bassist Roger Waters, who attended Cambridgeshire High School for Boys.

    Mr Gilmour and Mr Barrett were later students together at Cambridge Technical College, and spent their lunchtimes practising guitar. In late 1962, Mr Gilmour joined the blues-rock band Jokers Wild. In late 1967 David Gilmour became the fifth member of Pink Floyd.

    Primarily regarded as a lead guitarist, Mr Gilmour’s prowess saw Guitar World readers vote his solos, Comfortably NumbTime and Money, into the top 100 Greatest Guitar Solos of all time; Comfortably Numb came in fourth. He is also a proficient multi-instrumentalist, playing bass, keyboards, synthesiser, banjo, lap steel, mandolin, harmonica, saxophone and drums.

    As well as recording four solo albums, he has produced, been a sideman and acted as sound engineer for acts including Paul McCartney, Kate Bush, Eric Clapton, Elton John and Bob Dylan.

    Mr Gilmour’s charity support has included Crisis, Oxfam, the European Union Mental Health and Illness Association, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, Teenage Cancer Trust and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. In 2019, Gilmour auctioned 120 of his guitars for charity, at Christie’s in New York, including his Black Strat which sold for $3,975,000, making it the most expensive guitar ever sold at auction. The auction raised $21,490,750, with the proceeds going to the environmentalist charity ClientEarth.

    His awards include the 2008 Ivor Novello Lifetime Contribution Award, recognizing his excellence in music writing and an honorary doctorate from Anglia Ruskin University.

  • Mel Calman


    Mel Calman


    Cartoonist Mel Calman was the cartoonist whose perplexed little men reacted to the day’s events in Daily Express, Sunday Telegraph, Observer, Sunday Times and Times.

    Born in 1931, Calman left The Perse to study illustration at the Borough Polytechnic Arts School and St Martin’s School of Art. Despite setbacks, most notably from the editor of Punch magazine, he became a freelance cartoonist in 1956 and had drawings published in the Daily Express. Following this, he went on to draw for the Observer, Sunday Telegraph, the Times, Sunday Times, and the Evening Standard, and became the resident cartoonist on the BBC’s Tonight programme.

    Calman was also an art dealer, and founded The Workshop (now the Cartoon Gallery in Museum Street) in 1970. He was also a co-founder and chairman of the Cartoon Arts Trust, and devoted a great deal of time to establishing a national museum of cartoon art.

  • Sir Peter Hall


    Sir Peter Hall


    Theatre and film director Sir Peter Hall founded the Royal Shakespeare Company and was Director of the National Theatre for fifteen years. He was also prominent in defending public subsidy of the arts in Britain.

    Sir Peter, whose father was stationmaster at Whittlesford station, joined The Perse in 1941 and was made Head Boy in 1949. That year he gave an extraordinary rendition of Hamlet, under the direction of John Tanfield. He won a scholarship to St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, to read English, but his studies were deferred while he completed his National Service with the RAF. At university he produced and acted, and he staged his first professional production in 1953, the year he graduated.

    In August 1955, Sir Peter directed the English language premiere of Waiting for Godot at the Arts Theatre, London, which was hugely successful. He founded the RSC in 1960 and served as its artistic director from that time until 1968. He was Director of the National Theatre from 1973 to 1988 and was also a member of the Arts Council of Great Britain, resigning from the latter role in protest over cuts in public funding.

    Opera was another of Sir Peter’s passions and he directed several. Sir Peter passed away on 11 September 2017, aged 86.


  • Marius Goring


    Marius Goring


    Marius Goring (1912-1998) was an actor and director.

    At The Perse, he obtained a higher certificate from the Oxford and Cambridge schools examination board, and went on to study abroad at universities in Munich, Frankfurt, Vienna and Paris. He then trained at the Old Vic drama school and appeared on the London stage for the first time in 1927, at the Rudolph Steiner Hall.

    He was admitted to the Old Vic Company in 1932 and made his West End debut in 1934, playing in The Voysey Inheritance at the Shaftesbury Theatre. In 1937 he played alongside Laurence Olivier and Alec Guinness as Feste in Twelfth Night.

    During the Second World War, Goring served in the Queen’s Royal regiment. In 1941 he was seconded to the Foreign Office, which made him supervisor of BBC broadcasting to Germany. His time studying abroad had given him the ability to play foreign roles convincingly, and he provided the voice of Hitler in the BBC’s The Shadow of the Swastika (1940). After the war he toured Germany, acting in German.

    Goring was a passionate believer in acting as a profession, and acted in the theatre until 1990. He was a co-founder of British Actors’ Equity in 1929 and was the organisation’s vice-president three times (1964-8, 1975-7, 1980-82).

    He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1979 and appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1991 for services to theatre. He died from cancer in 1998 at the age of 86.

  • Humphrey Jennings


    Humphrey Jennings


    Humphrey Jennings (1907-50) was a documentary filmmaker. His work Pandaemonium, 1660–1886: The Coming of the Machine as Seen by Contemporary Observers was the inspiration for part of the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony.

    After graduating from Pembroke College, Cambridge with a starred First Class degree in English, he started post-graduate study on the poet Thomas Gray, which he left to pursue more creative industries. Jennings was a photographer, painter and theatre designer before joining the GPO Film Unit in 1934.

    Whilst most of his works were short films of a mainly patriotic nature, he made a feature length film Fires Were Started in 1943. This film, about the work of the Auxiliary Fire Service in London, blurs the lines between fiction and documentary because the scenes are re-enactments. It is considered a classic of the genre by film makers.

    Alongside his film work, Jennings edited texts for Mass Observation and the London Bulletin. Inspired by one ‘collection of texts on the Impact of the Machine’, he was offered a contract to write a book. Jennings had almost completed this work by the time of his death in 1950. It was published posthumously in 1985 as Pandaemonium, 1660-1886: The Coming of the Machine as Seen by Contemporary Observers.

  • Sophie Burrows


    Sophie Burrows


    Sophie Burrows is a freelance saxophonist and singer. When Sophie joined The Perse in 2010, she quickly became acquainted with the School’s co-curriculum, spending most of her time in the music department. She was an active player and singer in many ensembles and musical productions whilst at school.

    After leaving The Perse, Sophie went on to study Classical Saxophone Performance at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Since graduating in 2019, she has been working as a freelance saxophonist and singer as well as General Manager of the Silk Road Music Group. She also works as a peripatetic woodwind teacher at several schools around London.

    Sophie’s main musical interests revolve around world music, specifically Gnawa and South Asian music alongside jazz fusion. Her work spans from gigs at jazz clubs and private functions to appearances at major festivals. Performance highlights in 2023 included playing at Cymru Affrica Festival with Agmar Band, Boomtown Festival with Berber Diffusion, Wilderness Festival with Behind the Mask and Silk Road Music Festival in Barbados.

    In January 2022, Sophie started a local acapella choir in Walthamstow called the E17 Singers.

    To visit Sophie’s website, click here or take a look at her Instagram account.


  • Mel Rodgers


    Mel Rodgers


    Dr Mel Rodgers is a geophysicist and volcanologist at the University of South Florida.

    Rodgers left The Perse to study Geophysics at the University of Durham, after which she worked for a Geophysical Survey Company, ARKeX,  doing airborne surveys for oil and gas exploration.  She obtained her doctorate from the University of South Florida, where the focus of her studies was on volcano seismology surrounding eruptions at Telica volcano, Nicaragua.

    She was then an academic fellow at the University of Oxford from 2013 to 2016. Dr Rodgers then returned to the University of South Florida, where she is currently a Research Assistant Professor. Her research focuses on trying to improve monitoring and forecasting capabilities of active volcanoes, using statistical data analysis and innovative techniques to deal with the large data sets generated.

    Mel returned to The Perse in January 2015 to deliver one of the highly popular‘42’ lectures.

  • John Clarke


    John Clarke


    California-based John Clarke is Professor of Experimental Physics at UC Berkeley. Professor in the Graduate School, his research concerns Condensed Matter Physics and Materials Science.

    Professor Clarke studied physics as an undergraduate and postgraduate at Cambridge University (Christ’s College and Darwin College), receiving his doctorate in 1968. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Berkeley, he joined the Physics faculty in 1969. He has made significant contributions in superconductivity.

    Professor Clarke is a fellow of the Royal Society of London, the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Institute of Physics (UK). He has been a Sloan Foundation Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow and a Miller Professor.

    He has made significant contributions in superconductivity and superconducting electronics, particularly in the development and application of superconducting quantum interference devices (SQUIDs), which are ultrasensitive detectors of magnetic flux. One current project is the application of SQUIDs configured as quantum-noise limited amplifiers to search for the axion, a possible component of dark matter.

    In 1987, he was named California Scientist of the Year and was awarded the Fritz London Prize for research in low-temperature physics. In 1998, he received the American Physical Society’s Joseph F. Keithley Award for Advances in Measurement Science and, in 1999, the National Academy of Sciences’ Comstock Prize for Physics. He was awarded the Hughes Medal of the Royal Society in 2004.

  • Brian Lister


    Brian Lister


    Brian Lister (1926 – 2014) was one of Britain’s foremost post-war designers and builders of competition cars.

    After leaving The Perse, Lister began apprenticeship training at the family engineering firm George Lister and Sons, completing this in 1946. He served two years in the RAF for National Service before returning to the firm. Lister had a keen interest in motor cars and co-founded the Cambridge 50 Car Club, where he met Scott Brown (who would later drive the Lister car in competitions).

    In 1953, Brian asked his father to fund the development of a car bearing the family name. The car made its debut in April 1954 at Snetterton, and won. The car evolved rapidly, pushing Lister to the highest ranks of sports car builders. He gave up racing in 1964 after preparations for the Le Mans race, but remained actively involved in Lister Engineering for many years.

    Lister also had a passion for jazz music, and performed publicly until 1990.

  • Ronald Norrish


    Ronald Norrish


    Ronald Norrish was joint winner of the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1967 for the study of extremely fast chemical reactions.

    In his penultimate year at the school, Ronald was awarded a scholarship to begin studies at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Unfortunately, the outbreak of the First World War meant that Norrish was unable to take up this place until 1919. During the war, Norrish served with the Royal Artillery in France and spent six months as a prisoner of war in Germany.

    Despite the delay in beginning his studies, Norrish graduated with a double first in Natural Sciences and was elected as a Research Fellow at Emmanuel in 1925. He was a pioneer in photochemistry and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1936 and Professor of Physical Chemistry at Cambridge in 1937.

    The Second World War brought about technological advances, allowing Norrish to apply his knowledge to problems such as the suppression of gun-flash, and fire hazards to balloons. These developments assisted his work on flash photolysis, for which he was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1967.

  • Sir William Scott Farren


    Sir William Scott Farren


    Sir William Scott Farren (1892–1970) was educated at The Perse before and gaining a scholarship at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he studied mathematics, and graduated with first-class honours in the mechanical sciences tripos of 1914.

    He joined British Thomson-Houston at Rugby, but within a year was persuaded to join the Royal Aircraft Factory to help expand it into a major national centre of aircraft research, development, and design. Farren became head of the aerodynamics department, learned to fly, and played a significant role in the design of the SE5a, a highly successful combat aircraft which went into large-scale production.

    In 1918 Farren joined Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft. He was officially appointed university lecturer in engineering under the new university statutes of 1926, and was elected a fellow of Trinity College in 1933. He also lectured on the strength of aircraft structures at the Royal College of Science in 1922–31.

    In 1937 to become deputy to David Pye, the director of scientific research. In 1939 Farren became deputy director of research and development of aircraft under Roderic Hill and in 1940 he moved with him to the newly created Ministry of Aircraft Production, later succeeding Hill as director of technical development.

    Both before, during, and after the Second World War, Farren’s influence, and the services he rendered to the Aeronautical Research Committee (renamed Council in 1945) and its various committees, were considerable. He also played a leading part in the setting up of co-operative wind-tunnel facilities by industry to supplement the official facilities. His contributions to aviation were recognized by many honours: he was appointed MBE in 1918, CB in 1943, was knighted in 1952, and elected FRS in 1945. He was made honorary fellow of the American Institute of the Aerospace Sciences, and also of the Royal Aeronautical Society, of which he was president in 1953 and in 1956 he received its gold medal.

  • Sir George Thomson


    Sir George Thomson


    Sir George was the son of Sir J J Thomson, Professor of Physics at the University of Cambridge, who had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1906 for his work on the conduction of electricity in gases.

    Sir George left The Perse in 1910 and went to read Mathematics and Physics at Trinity College, Cambridge, until his studies were interrupted by the outbreak of war in 1914. During the war he served in the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment and rose to the rank of Captain.

    After the war, he spent three years as a Fellow at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and had a successful academic career, with posts at Cornell University, Imperial College London, and the University of Aberdeen. It was at Aberdeen where he carried out experiments on the behaviour of electrons and showed that they behaved as waves, despite being particles. This discovery led to him being jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1937 along with C J Davisson, who had arrived at the same conclusions via a different method.

    In the late 1930s and throughout the Second World War, Sir George specialised in nuclear physics, and was the chairman of the 1940-41 MAUD Committee, that concluded the feasibility of the atomic bomb.

    Sir George was awarded a knighthood in 1943, and became Master of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge in 1952.


  • Alex Coles


    Alex Coles


    Alex has been playing rugby since he was ten years old, being involved with Newmarket, Shelford, and The Perse rugby clubs. Whilst at The Perse he was scouted by Northampton Saints, joining their junior ranks. A second-rower, Alex played for Saints’ Under-18 side during the 2016/17 season, and made his senior team debut in 2018, scoring a try in their win over the Timisoara Saracens. He made 17 appearances for the Saints in the 2020/21 season, and is set to star throughout 2021/22, also. Alex also played for the England Under-20s’ in the 2019 season and has been recently selected for the full England squad ahead of the 2022 Autumn Internationals.

    Alongside his sporting career, Alex is completing a degree in Philosophy and History at Birkbeck, University of London.

  • Tess Howard


    Tess Howard


    Tess joined The Perse in 2010 and while here became the youngest National League top goal scorer for the 2016 season with Cambridge City Hockey Club.

    She started playing for England Hockey at U16, and has since been an integral part of the U18 and U21 England and Great Britain teams. Whilst still at The Perse, Tess captained the U18 England team and won European Championship Bronze medals at U18 and U21 level in consecutive years.

    After achieving 3 A*s at A Level, Tess is currently studying Geography at Durham University. She has had a successful debut season with the Durham University Women’s 1st XI, being voted their Most Valuable Player and top goal scorer.

    Tess was part of the Great Britain U23 Elite Development Programme and was awarded ‘England Hockey’s Junior Performance Player of the Year’. When interviewed on this accolade she said, “I play because I love it. Hockey is one of my greatest passions and I’ll just go for it and see where it takes me. No-one ever regretted trying hard.”

    Following her debut in 2018, Tess is now a well-established player for GB and England. She won a gold medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

  • John Steele


    John Steele


    After leaving The Perse, Steele trained at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst and served as an army officer for 6 years. He then became a professional rugby player, playing over 400 first class games and receiving various honours.

    Once his playing career was finished, Steele turned his hand to coaching, successfully leading Northampton Saints to becoming European Champions in 2000. He served on the England Rugby Board during the successful World Cup campaign in 2003, and was appointed as CEO of UK Sport in 2005.

    Whilst at UK Sport, Steele was responsible for developing high performance sports and delivering medal success for Team GB. His tenure spanned the Beijing games and the lead into London 2012, where Team GB achieved unprecedented success.

    In 2012, Steele took up post as Group Chief Executive of the Youth Sport Trust in order to further the Olympic legacy, and currently leads an ambitious change programme as Executive Director of Sport at Loughborough University. He was also the Chairman of the English Institute of Sport from 2013 to 2021.

    John received an OBE in 2021 for his services to sport.

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