Category Archives: Keeping up with our Chadsians

SCR Member Honoured by The Queen


Gillian Allnutt, poet and St Chad’s SCR member, has been awarded the Gold Medal for Poetry by Her Majesty the Queen.  

The Gold Medal for Poetry was instituted by King George V in 1933 at the suggestion of the then Poet Laureate, John Masefield. The award was presented to Gillian by The Queen on 21 February 2017.

The Medal is awarded for excellence in poetry, on the basis either of a body of work over several years, or for an outstanding poetry collection issued during the year of the award.

The Poet Laureate, Dame Carol Ann Duffy said of Gillian Allnutt’s writing:

“[It] roams across centuries, very different histories and lives, and draws together, without excuse or explanation, moments which link across country, class, culture and time.

The North is a constant touchstone in her work; canny and uncanny, its hills and coast, its ancient histories and its people.

Her poems progress over the years to a kind of synthesis of word-play and meditation. In her work the space between what is offered and what is withheld is every bit as important as what is said.

She has the power to comfort and to astonish in equal measure. In her outlook, her imagination, her concerns and her lyric voice she is unique.”

Gillian Allnutt was born in London in 1949 and spent much of her childhood in Newcastle upon Tyne before studying at the University of Cambridge. Her retrospective How the Bicycle Shone: New & Selected Poems (2007) draws on six published books plus a new collection, Wolf Light, and includes references to family ties in North Norfolk and her life in the North East.

Gillian was co-editor of The New British Poetry (1988) and from 2001 to 2003 held a Royal Literary Fund Fellowship at Newcastle and Leeds Universities. Recently she has taught creative writing in the English Department here in Durham.

In 2009/10 Gillian held a writing residency with The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture (now Freedom From Torture) in the North East, working with asylum seekers in Newcastle and Stockton.


  • Spitting the Pips Out (Sheba, 1981)
  • Beginning the Avocado (Virago, 1987)
  • Blackthorn (Bloodaxe Books, 1994)
  • Nantucket and the Angel (Bloodaxe Books, 1997)
  • Lintel (Bloodaxe Books, 2001)
  • Sojourner (Bloodaxe Books, 2004)
  • How the Bicycle Shone: New & Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2007)
  • indwelling (Bloodaxe Books, 2013)



  • The New British Poetry (Paladin, 1988) (co-editor)

Chantele Smith – Advancing technology in Barnsley Council

Chantele (St Chad’s 2006-2009) is the ICT Technical Specialist for Barnsley Council and has been instrumental in helping the council move towards the use of apps for many of their HR tasks. The use of technology to assist with payroll processes and leave requests is part of the council’s digital transformation, hoped to reduce costs and decrease processing time, but has faced difficulty with users unfamiliar or uncomfortable with apps.


Chantele will be presenting at the 2016 SAP UK and Ireland user group conference in Birmingham on 20-22 November, speaking about the journey Barnsley Council have taken from paper to app, and exploring her methods for overcoming the obstacles of unfamiliarity and fear of failure amongst users.

Jonathan Douglas – Director of the National Literacy Trust

Jonathan Douglas (St Chad’s 1988-1991) was appointed as the Director of the National Literacy Trust in 2007, having previously been Head of Policy Development at the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. In his current role he is responsible for strategic direction, financial management and day-to-day running of the charity, which aims to transform lives through improved literacy. He has also worked in Westminster Libraries in children’s services and as a librarian, as well as having been Professional Adviser for Youth and School Libraries at the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals.

Jonathan Douglas
Jonathan is currently on the Advisory Committee of the Man Booker Prize and is Chair of Governors at his local primary school.


In the news recently he has been quoted in support of calls to ring-fence funding for school libraries, made by the Children’s Laureate, Chris Riddell.

“Recent surveys show that a large number of primary schools with designated library space have seen their budgets reduced and the number of librarians in English schools has fallen significantly. With wider cuts to public library services, the role of school libraries are more crucial than ever, and indeed need to expand to meet the needs of families … and as a welcoming space for the whole school community.”

For more on saving school libraries see the whole Huffington Post article. For more from Jonathan see his HuffPost blog.

Arthur Bostrom – Actor


If you caught this interview exploration of Brian Blessed’s life in radio a few weeks ago you might not have known that the interviewer Arthur Bostrom is a Chadsian.

Arthur (St Chad’s 1974-77) is an actor on both television and stage. Probably best known for his role as Officer Crabtree in ‘Allo ‘Allo, he has also guest starred in a wide variety of TV shows, and audio dramas. He also presented an episode of BBC Radio 4’s Word …of Mouth looking into Double Entendres. His recent stage appearances include Malvolio in Original Theatre Company’s production of Twelfth Night.

*7 days to listen at time of writing*


Richard Taylor – Archivist and Author


Richard Taylor (St Chad’s 1982-85) has recently published his book “Edward Johnston: A Signature for London” on the relationship between Edward Johnston, the creator of London’s iconic font and Transport for London.

Johnston Typeface is seen, in an adapted form, on Tube trains, station signs, buses, posters, leaflets and maps and is considered symbollic of London. It celebrates its 100th birthday this year.


Upon completion of his History degree Richard Taylor trained as an archivist and has set up archive departments for both London Transport and Railtrack plc (forerunner to Network Rail). He has worked as the Senior Curator at the National Railway Museum and as the City Archivist for York before working on the “Johnston Journeys” project for the London Transport Museum which culminated in this book. He is currently researching James Staats Forbes, a Victorian Railway Magnate.

“A Signature for London” can be found for sale through the London Transport Museum Online Shop and Amazon


Tim FitzHigham – Comedian and world record holder

Tim FitzHigham, award-winning comedian and Chadsian (1994-1997), is on tour with his show about Will Kempe, Shakespeare’s best known comic actor -dates and locations on his website here.

Tim is both a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, Manufacturing and Commerce. He is an award-winning comedian, author, artist and a world record holder. The feats he has performed include paddling a paper boat down 160 miles of the River Thames, rowing a bathtub across the English Channel, and inflating the world’s largest man-inflated balloon. In between these feats he has had several very successful runs at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and has toured the UK and Australia both solo and with groups.

For more about Will Kempe (from Tim) see below:

Robert Swan – Antarctic Activist

Robert Swan OBE FRGS, Chad’s Alumnus (1976-1979) and Honorary Fellow, is an outspoken advocate for the protection of the Antarctic and proponent of renewable energy. He founded 2041, a company dedicated to the preservation of the Antarctic and is the first person to have walked to both Poles.

Help him reach 1million views on his 2014 TED talk “Let’s save the last pristine continent”, and learn more about what could happen in 2041, the year the Antarctic Treaty runs out.


Shirin Gerami – Iranian Iron-Woman


Shirin Gerami (St Chad’s 2008-2011) made history as Iran’s first female triathelete when she competed at the International Triathlon Union World Championships in London in 2013. This weekend she has once again made history when she represented her country in the 2016 Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.

Gerami has helped to design her own sportswear to allow her to compete whilst also respecting the rules and regulations of Iran. She has also been active in encouraging women into sport in Iran, as well as co-creating the “Be Like Water” campaign to help women into surfing.

Image from Getty Images.