How did you two meet?
Ed: We met 16 years ago, both temping in the same office after university. Molly had studied in the States, where she is from, but did her junior year abroad in Bath and came back after graduating.
Do you normally do anything to mark Valentine’s Day?
Ed: We used to before the children!
Molly: Ed used to make some clever Valentines for me out of paper. Once he made me a little box and when I opened it all these cellophane hearts fluttered out.
Ed: Another time I made an anatomically correct heart from paper. Now we have children it’s harder to find the time.
Molly: We have two girls, Immy (Imogen) and Katy, who are six and three. And they're lively!
How long have you worked at the Uni? What does your role involve?
Ed: The girls are actually the reason I got the job here, as I work part time so I can pick them up from school. I work in Maths and Statistics Help (MASH) across two roles. Firstly, I support the postgraduate taught students as a Teaching Fellow, which involves creating bespoke courses to help them with their mathematical and programming needs. My second role is a job share with the other MASH Co-ordinator, which involves the day to day running of the team.
Molly: I started at the University in 2009 and I'm now Deputy Director of Development and Alumni Relations and Head of Alumni Engagement. I oversee all the communications and engagement with our 120,000 plus former students. This includes everything from events, magazines and e-newsletters to lower level fundraising activities, including the Alumni Fund.
What would you most like to achieve while you're at the University?
Molly: I’ve recently been involved in helping get a Black student and alumni network off the ground, and I’d love to see that grow. Overall, I’d really like to see everybody across the University taking a more joined-up approach to how we engage with our graduates. In the ten years I've been here I’ve seen some progress, but it can still be quite disjointed. People keep in touch with a lecturer here and there, but it would be great to have a big picture overview, so that we're using this incredibly powerful community to best support the University.
Ed: This question is a bit of a weird one for me because ultimately, I’d like students to be able to find and access all the support and resources that they need, but then my job probably wouldn’t exist!
What one thing makes you feel proud to work at the University of Bath?
Molly: I always feel proud when I see the students interacting with the community. For example, a few weeks ago the rocket team from Mechanical Engineering went to our daughter's school for the second year running. They received a grant from the Alumni Fund and one of the conditions of the grant was to develop a diversity plan. They decided they wanted to do some outreach with primary school students, particularly to engage girls with engineering, and so I put them in touch with my daughter’s school. I watched their presentation last year and was inspired by how dedicated the students are and how much they wanted to share their passion with the children.
Ed: I’m proud of the University’s attitude to not knowing something. It's always seen as an opportunity to go and learn something new. Also, if you have an idea, you’re encouraged to explore it, gather some evidence and see if it works. It’s exactly the sort of attitude a university should have.
Who was your most influential teacher, or educator and why?
Molly: In high school my 10th grade American History teacher, Mr Batcheller, was the first person that ever taught us how to really think, as opposed to how to regurgitate what we heard. Learning that you could read something, and then draw your own conclusion was hugely influential. However, this morning, when the kids were being slow getting ready, I did an impression of my high school swimming coach who also left a big impression on me. At training, if he wasn’t happy, he used to shout in his Southern US accent “My 97-year-old grandmother swims faster than you and she’s been dead 10 years!”
What was your first job?
Molly: My first job was as a chambermaid in a hotel in Cornwall. I grew up in America but spent the summer holidays over here. Picking up other people's hair out of the drain was grim, but the hotel was right on the beach and the beautiful setting made up for a lot. Pay was horrendous and the job was gross, but it gave me a lot of respect for the value of money. I think I got about three pounds an hour and really felt like I’d earned every penny.
Ed: I used to pick potatoes. It was really hard work. I was on top of a big bit of farm machinery, that would drive around the field pulling potatoes and earth through a conveyor belt and I’d throw the earth back. A stereo swung from the top of the machine and you’d have to duck and dodge to avoid getting hit on the head. At the end of the day I always felt seasick!
If you could start your own dream business what would it be?
Ed: I would build a bouldering wall in the Sulis Centre. It’s a perfect venue for it.
What is your favourite holiday destination and why?
Molly: Ed’s in the Climbers Club, which means we have access to bunk houses all over the country. There's one on the tip of Cornwall near Penzance where we take the kids. It's right on the edge of a cliff, it’s really basic, it's remote, the phone signal is awful, and every time we've gone there (before or after children) we always have a lovely time. There's no luxury but the kids love it. They can just run around and make a lot of noise and be free. There's also a great pub about a mile away.
What's your favourite book, or album, or both, and why?
Molly: Should we try and answer for each other? Ed’s favourite band is Radiohead and his favourite book is probably ‘The Rock Warrior’s Way’. I don’t think he realises quite how much he references it in conversation. At the moment he’s always reading the ‘Dungeons and Dragons Players Handbook’.
Ed: Molly’s favourite book is Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantell. In terms of favourite band, I’d say Pearl Jam for her, specifically Vs, the album with the sheep on the front.
Molly: When we first got together, we had very similar taste in music, but it's diverged a bit over the years. We’re looking forward to when the kids start branching out from the Frozen 2 soundtrack.
When are you happiest?
Molly: On a Saturday evening when we're all watching a film, everybody's calm and we don't have to worry about getting up the next day. Ed makes a mean homemade pizza. So, my answer is when Ed’s in the kitchen making my dinner! We do have our own personal happy places too. I swim at Vobster Quarry, which is not too far from here and I can just be there for hours. I love it and totally forget all my worries.
Ed: I like it when we're all together, like when we're down in Cornwall, sharing an experience. But I do also like going climbing. I took our eldest, Immy, to the bouldering wall last week and for the first time we were both able to do our own thing and have a good time.
Molly: We asked her the other day what her favourite sport was. She said climbing and Ed’s face lit up.
If you could meet anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Molly: Probably Barack Obama. As well as having huge respect for him politically, every Christmas he writes a list of recommended books which becomes my reading list for the year. I don't always get through it, but he has great taste, or whoever writes lists for him does. He recommended a fantastic book that I’ve just finished called ‘Furious Hours’, which is about Harper Lee.
Ed: I think I would take advantage of talking to somebody who is no longer with us. All my grandparents died when I was very young, so I’d love to be able to talk to them now that I'm an adult. I’d ask them what my parents were like and share my experiences of parenting my own children.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
Molly: Probably not a lot because I never shut up! I do talk a lot. For Ed, I think the thing that people are always surprised or impressed to hear about how accomplished a climber he is. He’s climbed all over the world, including El Capitan, in Yosemite. People know that he likes climbing but they tend to think about it as a weekend hobby, rather than him conquering these huge feats.
Ed: Molly has also achieved a lot with her swimming. She won a dirty great trophy for this 2.5k open water swim in Swanage. It was even in the local newspaper!
Tell us your favourite joke.
Ed: Anything written by Tim Vine. Conjuncivitus.com, there’s a site for sore eyes.