Bury Grammar School Old Boys
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Rodney Greenberg, Class of 1959
Rodney graduated with honours at the Music Faculty of Manchester University, specialising in Piano and Composition. His music has been performed at the Wigmore Hall and the Purcell Room. He began his broadcasting career in BBC radio and in 1970 he joined the Music and Arts Department of BBC Television. Since 1980, he has been a freelance Producer/Director combining work for the BBC, Channel Four and Sky Arts with projects for other major companies in Europe and America.
He has collaborated with numerous eminent musicians, producing and directing over 300 television music programmes ranging from concerts, opera and ballet to documentary features and masterclasses. Formerly Executive Producer of the televised Promenade Concerts, he has directed The Last Night of the Proms eight times. For several years he was also Executive Producer of the BBC ‘Masterclass’ series, for which he made over 40 programmes.
Vincent Chong, Class of 1999
Vincent burst onto the horror and fantasy scene several years ago with a sequence of incredible artworks. He is an award-winning freelance illustrator and designer and has worked for clients around the world on projects ranging from book and magazine illustration, to website graphics and design and artwork for CD packaging. He has also illustrated the works of notable authors such as Stephen and Ray Bradbury.
“What impresses me is Vincent’s appreciation of the author’s work. He doesn’t simply capture the story, he embraces it, and through his incredible talent is able to bring imagination to life. Working with Vincent, I discovered—to my delight—that he has a storyteller’s mind (in that he appreciates construct and subtlety) and an artist’s vision. His work is conceptual, dazzling, and consistently breathtaking.” Rio Youers (author)
Paul Jeffries, Class of 1998
Paul left BGS at 16 to follow his football dreams. He started his career with Oldham Athletic but when injury ruled him out of the last six months of his contract, Paul decided to return to full time education. Paul was offered a football scholarship and the chance to study a degree in Business Management at Georgia College, USA.
Following his graduation Paul coached at the US Military Academy, New York. He then used his business qualifications to work in real estate and briefly as a stockbroker on Wall Street. But Paul didn’t settle, and came to the conclusion that there is more to life than making money.
Paul worked for three years as a Regional Football Director within a New York based organisation ‘selling soccer’ before finding his true vocation with Downtown United Football Club. Paul directs the Club’s recreational league which gives over 800 children the opportunity to play. He has also developed an academy for six to nine-year-olds. However, his main role is running the outreach programme, City Soccer Initiative, coaching football in inner-city Manhattan schools.
Paul said: “Soccer in the States is very much a ‘pay to play’ model. Our goal is to ensure that no child is denied the opportunity to play. We’ve helped energise the schools where children only get fifty-minutes of PE each week and the kids are loving football. I stopped playing football shortly after my scholarship and now I get to play with the kids and I love it. It’s the purest form of the game and it reminds me of my happiest days playing at school.”
David Conn, Class of 1983
David Conn is an award-winning writer, best known as an investigative journalist for the Guardian. He had always wanted to be a writer. At school he was passionate about football and was captain of the school team. After BGS he studied English Literature and Politics at York University. He then took a postgraduate course in Law and qualified as a solicitor. After qualifying, he gave up the law to embark on a career as a journalist and author.
His work as a lawyer enabled him to understand business, finances and ownership structures of organisations, and he has written features and interviews on a wider range of subjects including travel and social issues. From the mid-1990s, he began to investigate what he saw as the very unequal and excessively commercialised transformation of English football and its clubs. He has been a critic of the Premier League's very commercial approach, and has always been a strong advocate in sport that supporters should be represented in, and ideally own, their clubs, which are primarily community organisations.
David Conn has written for all England's broadsheet newspapers on a range of issues including football and made documentaries for BBC television and radio. He wrote a weekly investigative column for the Independent newspaper from 1999 before moving to the Guardian in 2005. David has won several awards including Sports Journalist of the Year, Sport News Reporter of the Year and Football Supporters Federation Writer of the Year, and he is the author of three books, including Richer Than God, A Modern History and a personal memoir about Manchester City.
Nigel Pilkington, Class of 1993
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” If each young person had a pound for every time they were asked that, they’d have….well, at least a fiver.
I remember the pressure to decide aged 15 because A Level subjects had to be chosen. I wanted to be a doctor, but insisted on doing foreign languages at A Level, so….Law was the compromise.
I read it at Peterhouse, Cambridge, where I was also a Choral Scholar. A City law-firm signed me up for a two-year training contract, with the promise of law school fees paid in full. I took a year out, and pretended to be an actor (keeping quiet about having to start at the law-firm 12 months later). I got a job playing a bird on a rubbish-dump in Guatemala, and an agent offered me representation. His clients included Sooty (!), so it felt like the big times were just around the corner.
I did panto with Nora Batty (Google Image the name if you’re not familiar with 1980s Sunday evening television), and played Mowgli in The Jungle Book in some of the coldest imaginable venues, wearing only a loincloth and a lot of false tan. Then the inevitable September arrived, and I turned my back on show-biz with a slightly heavy heart.
The firm had a strong entertainment law practice. After a stint in the Paris office, I worked on drafting contracts for the first Harry Potter movie. I enjoyed a brilliantly mixed-bag of experiences - but I didn’t love it. And to be truly excellent at something, I think you have to love it.
So, after four years in the law, I went back to acting, and luckily stumbled into the voiceover circuit, specialising in voicing teenage characters in English, French and German. Cartoon work includes 'Bottle Top Bill' for Channel Five and 'The Jungle Book' and 'Peter Rabbit' for CBBC and CBeebies. Dubbing work includes 'Downton Abbey', 'War Horse', and 'Casino Royale'. Having wondered if I actually have the face for radio, I recently bagged some in-vision TV work on 'Richard Hammond’s Secret Service' for BBC1, and I’m filming 'Grandpa In My Pocket' this summer for CBBC.
No-one at careers fairs mentions Voiceover Artist as an option. It’s the best move I ever made. And I don’t regret becoming a lawyer; it means I can write a mean and scary letter should the need arise. But to anyone struggling to give voice to the question “what do you want to be…?”, remember that the answer is allowed to change. But most important of all, end up doing what you love.
Matt Travis, Class of 2009
(Article featured in Issue 13 of The Key, Summer 2013)
I study medicine at the University of Birmingham and will be entering my final year in July. A scary thought! I can still remember my last day at BGS as if it was yesterday. How time flies!
University has been a great experience thus far. So many people to meet and so much to get involved in! Between our 4th and 5th years, we are encouraged to take a medical elective abroad. Four of us decided to go to Vanuatu for a month. Vanuwhere? Vanuatu - a country in the South Pacific, made up of 83 islands. So, how did we pick Vanuatu? Honestly...? I spun a globe, did some research into the hospital and country and we were set!
We came through Singapore and Sydney to get to Vanuatu and we've not looked back!
I spent 3 weeks on medicine and 1 week on paediatrics while at Vila Central Hospital. Medicine was unfortunately understaffed initially, so I was the junior doctor on the ward. Running clinics without support, writing prescriptions, writing discharge letters- should they really have been letting me do this?!
My first day on paeds was an horrendously emotional but invaluable experience; within half an hour of each other, I performed my first ever neonatal resus (I'd only practised how to resus adults before, and now I needed to resus a baby that was only just bigger than my hand), experienced my first death (unfortunately the same baby) and saw my first ever birth shortly after. Talk about the circle of life – thirty minutes of my life that I will never forget.
I can't put into words how amazing our time in Vanuatu has been. We tried to experience the culture and sites as much as possible. The people of Vanuatu are unbelievably friendly- a very safe country. Their culture is one based on trust and the people are enormously humble.
I have one more year at university before taking a job as a doctor, then who knows where to?! I hope the excitement continues!