How long have you worked at the Uni? What does your role involve?
I’ve been here since January 2008 – quite a while now! My job is Head of Student Marketing (postgraduate taught). My role has changed a bit over the years but my main interest has always remained the same – to put the right information in front of prospective students at the right time, so they can make the best possible decision for them about what they study and where. And of course, we’d like that to be here! We run a range of different campaigns and manage print publications like the prospectus, virtual open days and digital marketing campaigns, so it’s varied and interesting work.
Name one thing that makes you feel proud to work at the University of Bath?
I feel proud to work here every time I help out at a University Open Day. A lot of that is because of the Student Ambassadors. Our students appear to be pretty amazing when they arrive, and they are absolutely fantastic by the time they graduate! And we have excellent courses here, superb academics and a great campus. I suppose in my role I would say that – but it’s true!
What piece of advice would you like to give to a student?
You don't have to achieve everything you want to achieve in your life by the time you're in your mid-20s. We've all got time to have about three careers now – many of us will work into our 70s! And I don't understand what the big rush is. Slow down a bit, enjoy the other opportunities there are, as well as the academic, and don’t feel that you have to have your whole life mapped out.
Also, keep your eyes open to what's going on around you beyond your specific area of interest. One of the things that Bath is good at is collaborating across different departments and Faculties. It seems to me that it’s often in this crossover that exciting things happen and discoveries are made.
Who was your most influential teacher/educator, and why?
Well, this is a slightly odd one, because it's probably an English teacher who had great difficulty in getting the class started. There was one particular period she where she was trying to find the perfect place in a video so that we could pick up where we left off in the last class and it took her AGES.
But during that time, there was a poster on the wall of Dylan Thomas’s Fern Hill. Whilst the teacher was faffing about with the VHS, I was memorising that. And that got me to look into further things that he'd written, and work by other poets. So it's probably because of her taking so long to start the class that I went on to study English at St Andrews.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Well, according to my old primary school news book I wanted to be a nurse, which would have been a terrible idea. I like to think I have some empathy, but I am very impatient.
What was your first job?
I worked in the Barratt's shoe concession in Dorothy Perkins for £2.04 an hour. To be honest, I was mostly doing returns because the heels kept falling off the shoes. I think they only employed me because I was tall and I could reach the shoes on the top shelf. I had no interest in shoes at all and still don’t.
Where is your favourite holiday destination and why?
We’ve had a few lovely family holidays on Kefalonia, the Greek island. It's just so relaxed, the Greek people are lovely and food is so delicious and cheap. The beaches are incredibly beautiful and often pretty empty. My son loves it so much he wants to move there when he’s older!
What’s your favourite book or album and why?
My favourite short novel is The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje. My favourite long (very long!) novel is A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. I’ve just temporarily put Barbara Kingsolver’s ‘Unsheltered’ to one side because Margaret Atwood’s ‘Testaments’ – her sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale – has just come out. Don’t tell Barbara.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
I am a secret rhubarb farmer. I picked 35 kg from my garden this year. I make a lot of jam.
You’re doing a sponsored bike ride in September. Can you tell us a little bit about Ride4Simon?
My husband Simon was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2013 completely out of the blue and died towards the end of 2016, aged just 37. Our children were only 5 and 7 years old then, and it has been and continues to be utterly devastating. I’m delighted that there’s brain cancer research going on right here in Bath (another thing that makes me proud to work here!) and in collaboration with our GW4 research partners.
Brain cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in children and adults under 40. Because so many people impacted are so young, the number of years of life lost is enormous. There have been game-changing discoveries in some other cancers for example some types of leukaemia, but the brain cancer survival rate hasn’t improved in decades. My husband had glioblastoma which has a five year survival rate of just 5%.
So we have been raising money for Brain Tumour Research through our fundraising group Ride4Simon. We have raised over £40,000 over the past five years, starting with a cycle Simon did when he was in the middle of treatment (that was very much his style – he used to cycle from Chippenham to Bristol for his Oncology appointments).
I’m not really a cyclist and I need to find childcare every time I step outside my front door so training is a challenge! I’ve survived the last two rides, but this year’s is the toughest yet – a three day ride from the Eden Project in St Austell where we have a bronze leaf in memory of Simon, to Westonbirt Arboretum where we have a tree in memory of him. The ride is around 215 miles in total and hilly. Terribly hilly. I’ll be wishing I had an electric bike!
18 of us are taking part in all three days – we’ll have more joining us for day three as it’s more local. If anyone would like to join us for the last day (or perhaps more appealingly the post-ride cake at Westonbirt!) I’d love that.
Tell us your favourite joke
I put jokes in my children’s lunch boxes for them quite often. This is my son’s current favourite:
What do you call a farting dinosaur?
A blast from the past.