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At Millfield, Gareth Edwards was an exceptional athlete. If one takes his rugby ability for granted, it is surprising to know that, representing Somerset, at the All England Athletics Championships in his final year, he broke the United Kingdom record for the 200yds low hurdles. “Gareth”, his autobiography, gives interesting insights into his life at Millfield, how Boss Meyer changed his life and how Millfield broadened his horizons. From Millfield, he went to Cardiff College of Education, where he qualified as a teacher of Physical Education. However, his life was to be dominated by rugby although, at first, he started a career in management with a Neath company, involved in engineering and manufacturing, spurning the financial temptation being offered by rugby league. He first played for Wales in 1967 at the age of 19. Between 1967 and 1978 Gareth won 53 caps for Wales, including 13 as Captain. All his caps were won in succession for he never had a loss of form or an injury that would allow anyone else to take his place. He is Wales’ youngest ever captain, gaining his first captaincy at the age of 20. During his era, the Welsh side dominated the Five Nations Championship, winning the title seven times, including three grand slams. He also played ten times for the British Lions, playing for the legendary 1971 Lions team that was the only such team to win a series in New Zealand and for the unbeaten 1974 side in South Africa. Transferring his athletic ability to rugby, his extreme pace, welded to his strength, agility and guile, allowed him to score 20 tries in internationals. His try for the Barbarians against the All Blacks in 1973 at Cardiff Arms Park, often referred to simply as ‘that try’, is commonly said to be the greatest ever (and is available to view on the Barbarians website). When Gareth wrote the aforementioned autobiography, he was branded a “professional” and was prevented from coaching or being involved in any way with the sport of rugby union. However, those days have disappeared for ever and, in a poll of international rugby players conducted in 2003 by Rugby World magazine, he was declared the greatest player of all time. Gareth now commentates on the game for the BBC and in Welsh, his mother tongue, for a Welsh channel. He has also been a team captain on “A Question of Sport”, the popular BBC quiz programme. A statue of Gareth now stands in a prominent shopping centre in Cardiff. In the 2007 New Year’s Honours List, he was made a CBE for services to sport. Gareth has several other sporting interests and he has done remarkably well at these, too. A low handicap golfer, he is an accomplished fisherman, as his part in the BBC series “The Fishing Race” demonstrated. Indeed, in 1990, he caught a 45lb pike which was the heaviest such fish ever caught in England, Wales and Scotland. An apocryphal story suggests that he once declared on television that he would rather catch a 20lb salmon than score a try for Wales! Whether or not that is true it does illustrate how much he enjoys the sport. President of the Cardiff Institute for the Blind, he celebrated his 60th birthday in 2007 at a Celebrity Golf Day and Gala dinner which resulted in a significant amount of money going toward this worthwhile charity. However, things have not always gone easily for him. Maureen, his wife of many years, first won his heart when he was a 12-year old at school. She looked at him and sniffed “I wouldn’t touch you with a fork”.
Cinema has always been a part of Jeremy Thomas’ life. He was born in London into a filmmaking family, his father, Ralph, and uncle, Gerald, both directors. His childhood ambition was to work in cinema. As soon as he left school he went to work in various positions, ending up in the cutting rooms working on films such as The Harder They Come, Family Life and The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, and worked through the ranks to become a film editor for Ken Loach on A Misfortune. After editing Philippe Mora’s Brother Can You Spare a Dime, he produced his first film Mad Dog Morgan in 1974 in Australia. He then returned to England to produce Jerzy Skolimowski’s The Shout, which won the Grand Prix de Jury at the Cannes Film Festival. Jeremy’s films are all highly individual and his independence of spirit has paid off both artistically and commercially. His extensive output of over forty films includes three films directed by Nicolas Roeg: Bad Timing, Eureka and Insignificance, Julien Temple’s The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle, Nagisa Oshima’s Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence, and The Hit directed by Stephen Frears. In 1986 he produced Bernardo Bertolucci’s epic, The Last Emperor, an independently financed project that was three years in the making. A commercial and critical triumph, the film swept the board at the 1987 Academy Awards, garnering an outstanding nine Oscars including ‘Best Picture’. Since The Last Emperor, Jeremy has completed many films including Karel Reisz’s film of Arthur Miller’s screenplay Everybody Wins, Bertolucci’s film of Paul Bowles’ The Sheltering Sky, Little Buddha and Stealing Beauty, David Cronenberg’s films of William S Burroughs’ Naked Lunch and J G Ballard’s Crash. In 1997 he directed All The Little Animals, starring John Hurt and Christian Bale, which was in the official selection at the Cannes Film Festival. Other recent credits include Jonathan Glazer’s Sexy Beast, Takeshi Kitano’s Brother, Khyentse Norbu’s The Cup, Phillip Noyce’s Rabbit-Proof Fence, David Mackenzie’s film of Alexander Trocchi’s Young Adam, Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers, Terry Gilliam’s Tideland, Wim Wenders’ Don’t Come Knocking and Richard Linklater’s Fast Food Nation. He was Chairman of the British Film Institute from August 1992 until December 1997 and has been the recipient of many awards throughout the world, including the Michael Balcon British Academy Achievement and the European Achievement in World Cinema. He has been President of the jury at Tokyo, San Sebastian, Berlin Film Festival and Cannes and has also served on the main jury at Cannes. He was made a Life Fellow of the British Film Institute in 2000. In summer 1963, Jeremy was awarded the Photography Prize at Edgarley Hall!
After leaving Millfield in 1979, Kate Alexander moved to London working in media until starting a family in 1993. Married with two children, Kate discovered that her eldest son, Ted, like her, was dyslexic. His school didn’t recognise his dyslexia or provide the help he needed, so the family moved to Somerset knowing that he would receive the necessary help at Millfield. Spurred on by other parents with dyslexic children and similar experiences and backed up by National Union of Teachers’ research showing that less than 9% of teachers know how to teach a dyslexic child, Kate set up “Xtraordinary People” which operates as a restricted fund of the British Dyslexia Association, and has united all the leading dyslexia charities to campaign for change. Kate rallied celebrity support to her campaign … Richard Branson, Jamie Oliver, Robbie Williams and Orlando Bloom to name but a few. She has also received tremendous support and encouragement from many OM dyslexics, who like her have benefited from a dyslexia friendly education, something that should be available to all dyslexic children – regardless of their ability to pay. To bring this social injustice to the Government’s attention, Kate stood against Ruth Kelly (another OM) in the last election and had several meetings with her over that period. As a result, she has been in talks with the Government, given evidence to the Education Select Committee ‘Rose Review of Reading’ and the 2020 Personalised Learning Review. Kate has established herself as a media pundit on dyslexia and has written articles for the Commons/Lords House Magazine, Conservatives Crossbow magazine and has been featured in a host of national newspapers and TV appearances including GMTV, BBC Breakfast, Newsnight, Channel 4, Sky and 5 News. In April 2007 Kate was awarded the ‘Campaigner of the Year Award’ presented in Downing Street by Gordon Brown, patron of the awards charity. In May 2007 the Department for Children, Schools and Families awarded Xtraordinary People £900,000 (a figure they have to match by charitable donations) to demonstrate and communicate effective support for children with dyslexia in our schools. A launch event at the Science Museum in October was attended by many influential and famous dyslexic people together with leading lights in the world of education and politics. Kate is a quite Xtraordinary Old Millfieldian.
Cleve West left Millfield to pursue a promising sporting career in track and field athletics (long jump). He studied Physical Education and Art at Borough Road College and came fifth in the UK Championships (Belfast 1981) before giving up the sport through injury. Like Gareth Edwards, realising that teaching wasn’t his forte, he joined fine art dealer and publisher, Petersburg Press. Dealing with work of contemporary artists such as David Hockney, Howard Hodgkin and Jim Dine it became obvious that he needed a creative outlet. He caught the gardening bug while helping an ageing aunt look after her large garden in West London and, with the legacy she left him, studied garden design at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, with John Brookes. The legacy also financed his first show garden at the Hampton Court Flower Show in 1994. This won an RHS Silver-Gilt Medal and The George Cooke Award for innovation. Collaborating with sculptor, Johnny Woodford, he went on to win a hat-trick of Gold Medals at Hampton Court and a Silver-Gilt Medal at the Chelsea Flower Show for sponsors, Merrill Lynch. Last year, Cleve won his first Gold Medal at Chelsea with a garden sponsored by Saga Insurance. His inspiration was the importance of herbs, his design contrasting the flowers and foliage of the herbs against a series of concrete sculptures, some of which caught and stored rainwater, and a “contemplative space” guarded by a line of field maples. Cleve was one of only seven Gold Medal winners in the Show Gardens category. The garden has since been relocated at Saga’s head office at Enbrook Park, Folkestone. Cleve is a member of the Society of Garden Designers (MSGD) and has judged for the RHS at the Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower Shows. Projects vary from large country estates to small urban spaces both at home and abroad. In the media, Cleve is an occasional contributor to television and for the last three years he has written a weekly column, ‘Urban Gardener’ for The Independent Magazine. He contributes regularly to other publications including Gardeners’ World Magazine and Gardens Illustrated and he is currently writing a monthly blog for the BBC Gardening web-site.
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