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2011
16/03/2015
Tom Alexander has recently retired after enjoying decades of success in the business industry. Before announcing his retirement, Tom was the chief executive of mobile phone company Orange, where he masterminded the tie-up with T-Mobile UK; a merger that created the leading mobile operator in the country.

He came to Millfield from a local school in 1971 and the initial assessment concluded that he was very dyslexic and lacking in confidence. The school concentrated on addressing these issues and, according to his reports, he made conscientious efforts, had a sense of responsibility and responded well to challenges.

What Tom did excel at was karting. After quickly becoming established as the best karter at the School, he went on to represent Great Britain and was, at one point, ranked 7th in the world.

He recalled: “I remember my father turning up at school to take me to the World Championships. As we pulled away from the car park, all my mates were wishing me luck. And that’s a very happy and vivid memory I have from my time here.

“My biggest achievement at Millfield was finding myself. What I loved about the school is the scale. It has fantastic facilities and wonderful opportunities.

“My career has been influenced hugely from my schooldays. I was quite dyslexic and that spurred me on to actually use the skills I had. It taught me to think creatively and to find ways round problems.”

Tom has retired before but was talked back into business when Orange approached him. He even suggested he could be talked out of retirement again.

After receiving his award, he said: “What a lovely award to win. It really means a lot to me. When I was a young boy at Millfield I never thought I’d be stood back here in front of everybody receiving this award – it’s absolutely fabulous.

“I’d like to thank my mum and dad for paying the school fees – they were well worth it.”
Jeremy Gilley came to Millfield in 1983 and had already played the lead role in Bugsy Malone in the West End. His intention was to get O-levels so that he could be accepted into the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London.

He did indeed go on to become an actor for 10 years after joining the Royal Shakespeare Company when he was 17. Then, after a successful film and television acting career, Jeremy began making his own films.

In 1999 he founded the non-profit film project Peace One Day to document his own efforts to establish the first ever annual day of global ceasefire and non-violence with a fixed date. It was established two years later to coincide with the UN International Day of Peace on 21st September.

Jeremy explained: “Peace One Day was created because I was concerned and frightened about what was going on in the world and I wanted to make a difference.

“I decided to use the film camera to see if I could establish the first ever day of peace on the planet supported by every head of state in the world with a fixed calendar date and I’m delighted that, after years of work, that was achieved.”

Speaking of his time at Millfield, Jeremy said: “My fondest memory of Millfield is working with my pottery teacher Mr Bundell. He was an incredible man and we did some great work together. He was very inspiring. I also remember the sport and the friends I made here. It was a very special time.”
Sharon Hendry has enjoyed a long and successful career in journalism. She currently holds the title of Senior Feature Editor at The Sun.

After leaving Millfield, Sharon pursued her love of English Literature by studying the subject at the University of Southampton. This was swiftly followed by a post-graduate diploma in journalism.

A job on a local Buckinghamshire broadsheet then beckoned, allowing Sharon to hone her talents in the traditional way before making the big leap to the bright lights of Fleet Street just one year later.

Sharon worked for The News of the World and the Daily Mail before The Sun came calling. Last year she wrote a book called Radhika's Story: Surviving Human Trafficking. It tells the story of a child being sold into appalling slavery in Nepal and India.

Reflecting on life at Millfield, Sharon said: “Some of my happiest memories of being at Millfield are the English department. I came here and realised I was being exposed to some of the most fantastic teaching ever. There were three English teachers in particular who definitely went on to shape my career.

“The advice I would give to other pupils is never take what you have for granted. If you’re lucky enough to be here at Millfield, never lose sight of that and make the most of every moment.”
Duncan Goodhew shot to international stardom after he won a gold medal in the 100m breaststroke at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. He also won a bronze medal in the 4x100m medley.

After leaving Millfield, Duncan studied business management in America, combining his studies with a strict training regime. Before his Olympic success, he had already won medals at European and World Championships and the Commonwealth Games.

Like Tom Alexander, Duncan also suffers from dyslexia and lacked confidence when he arrived at the School. But Duncan developed a close relationship with swimming coach Paddy Garratt. In fact, during the interview process, he was asked to showcase his swimming talent. When Jack ‘Boss’ Meyer subsequently asked if he would swim for the school, Paddy’s response came as a huge surprise.

Duncan reminisced: “I was very interested to hear the answer to this question and was amazed when Paddy replied: ‘Yes he’ll swim for the school. And he’ll also swim for the county, the district and the country. And he’ll probably go beyond that.’ I could feel my parents growing with pride. But it left me wondering – what’s beyond your country?”

Duncan was awarded an MBE in 1981 for services to sport. He is now deeply involved with the BT Swimathon scheme, which has raised over £10 million for worthwhile causes. He is also the chairman of the Millfield Foundation, which was set-up in 2007 to raise funds for scholarships and bursaries.

He said: “For me to be able to put something back is really important. When I was asked to be chairman of the Millfield Foundation I was honoured. If I hadn’t been given a scholarship I wouldn’t have won a gold medal and my life would have been very different. So I’m eternally grateful to those that made it possible.

“There’s not a day that goes past in which my life hasn’t been enriched, changed and built by what happened in this fine school. All of you who do what you do, keep it up, it’s fantastic. Thank you very much for this stunning award.”
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