Sawtry Alumni

Emma markwell, left Sawtry July 2016

After seven years, I left Sawtry Village Academy in 2016 with four A-Levels in Maths, Chemistry, Physics, and Product Design. Thanks to the support from the Sixth-Form team I was able to secure an offer at Aston University and am currently in my second year working towards my degree in Chemical Engineering. I always wanted a career that would help me to make a positive change to the world and gaining my degree in Chemical Engineering is my first step towards achieving this goal.

Aston has been an amazing experience so far and I have been able to work in laboratories with high tech equipment and take part in design projects such as designing and prototyping a cooling system rig for a reactor. At university you are not only taught lots of theory but are also given amazing opportunities to see the real-life application. In our first year we were given a tour of the on-campus power plant and it gave me real insight about the industry and what I could eventually go on to do.

Next year I hope to be on an industrial placement which will allow me to gain hands on experience in range of possible industries from Pharmaceuticals to Sustainable Energy Sourcing and will be able to work with companies like Eon or BMW. Whilst being part of a male dominated area has been challenging I have enjoyed every second of it and look forward to the challenges ahead.

Emily Lankfer, left Sawtry July 2017

I am now working for George Hay Chartered Accountant’s in Huntingdon as a Trainee Accountant. I attend college for half a day once a week studying AAT. I enjoy my job as learning on the job is an exceptional way to learn.
To become an Accountant, you do not need a degree. However, I have learnt once I am a fully qualified chartered accountant I am able to go back to university if I did still really want to for a shorter period of time. I will be a fully qualified chartered accountant in 5 years’ time.

I would encourage everyone to consider looking at apprenticeships, if even slightly undecided about university. There is always the option at any age that you can go back to university.
I actually felt a real sense of achievement when I landed myself this job. When I found out I had got the job it changed my attitude instantly towards my final exams for the better. Doing an apprenticeship over going to university doesn’t make you any less smart, it is just a different route.

Three months in, I couldn’t be more pleased with my job and training I am now receiving. Taking the apprenticeship route was definitely the best option for me.

Matthew Batty, left Sawtry July 2017

I am thoroughly enjoying my time here at UCL. I have met so many inspiring people who are all determined to make a positive impact on the world. There are so many fun cultural events occurring on and around campus all the time, as well as many academic talks and lectures so every day there is an opportunity to discover something new. A short walk from campus can either allow you to enjoy some retail therapy down Oxford Street, or instead relax with a stroll through Regent’s Park. There really is something for everyone here. It is amazing to bask in the knowledge of some of the World’s greatest minds in lectures and I feel as though I have learned so much about my subject and how powerful it can be in shaping a better future for us all. I would highly recommend UCL to anyone thinking of going to university as you can have so much fun finding things to do while receiving some of the World’s very best education.

Matt is studying Biochemistry At UCL


Jack Martin, left Sawtry in July 2017

All throughout year 13 I was sceptical about going to university. It was never a serious consideration of mine until about a month before UCAS deadlines. Over the summer leading up to going to Uni I wasn’t very excited about going nor did I really want to go. I still felt the same even when I found out that I had got in to my first-choice university.

A few weeks before I had to leave to go to university I began to feel nervous but also excited. Now I have been here for over eight weeks and I can honestly say it was the best decision I could’ve made. Meeting new people was never an issue, I made new friends straight away both in my flat and with people on my course. The aspect of university that I most enjoy is the social side, meeting new people and going out and having fun is what makes it so much more enjoyable on top of everything else, however, there is still work to be done!

Chloe Pratt, left Sawtry July 2017

Hi, I’m Chloe and I left Sawtry sixth form in 2017 with Distinction* Distinction* in BTEC science, A in maths and B in food technology. I am now studying maths at the University of Lincoln, where I have recently been awarded a scholarship for achieving the highest total entry qualifications within the college of science at the university. These excellence scholarships were awarded to around 15 people out of everyone who joined the University this September.

Well done Chloe!

Luke Suckling, left Sawtry July 2017

“I am thoroughly enjoying university and living independently. (Especially the social life!). As for my course, I find it really engaging and the work set is challenging yet rewarding. My accommodation is very good and I get along very well with my flatmates. Everything has turned out well”

Luke is studying Business and Management at York University


Lisa-Marie Sample, left Sawtry July 2016

Sawtry Village Academy is an incredible school and sixth form. I joined in year 10 and left in year 13. The support I received throughout my entire time there was above and beyond all expectations. If I had a question it was answered. If I had troubles someone was there to listen. If the pressure became too much something was always done to ensure that I could be the best version of me possible regardless of the amount of exams we had on in any given week. With the guidance of my teachers I chose to continue studying English Literature, History and Sociology. The perfect combination of a levels for my BA in English with creative writing. Everything comes back to history and sociology and because of the dedication of my teachers and my hard work I achieved 3 Cs despite being predicted a D in one of the subjects. I had a strong foundation of knowledge to draw from throughout my first year and without this knowledge it would have felt like being thrown into the deep end. Instead I can sit in my lectures revisiting things I have already studied and I am now expanding and developing that knowledge as well as my character every single day. Thanks to Sawtry Village Academy I’m on my second year of university at Leeds Beckett. Thank you for your patience and dedication. We got there in the end.

Graduations July 2016

13690628_10201847133015874_3637791231206828914_n (2)       Emily Wilson      

   Michael Richards                        Emily Wilson                           Raja Hanna

Michael Richards – University of Essex in Computer Science.

Emily Wilson – Leeds University in Cinema & Photography.

Raja Hanna – Hull University in Politics and International Relations. He will be studying for his Master degree at St Andrews University.

Well done to them all.

A few words from our alumni.

Joshua Wilson

I originally applied to Loughborough University to take the 5-year MEng (Masters in Engineering) degree course in Product Design Engineering. Although I didn’t get the required AAB A-Level grades, I was accepted onto their 4-year BEng (Batchelors in Engineering) degree course. This was because Loughborough also considered my personal statement, Miss Calder’s reference and my visit day interview and design portfolio. I’m now currently in my second year of study, with the third being a year-long industrial placement at an engineering company. My first-year results have meant that I have been able to transfer up to the MEng degree course, my original UCAS selection, and the industrial experience in my placement year will help me in my long-term aim of achieving chartered engineer status.

The skills I learned during my A-levels continue to help me through the different modules and projects. Mr Hughes’ Product Design lessons gave me the basic skills in CAD (Computer Aided Design) which are applicable to the industrial level software I now use. My advice to anyone concerned about not getting the required grades for university is that your grades are not the only consideration and your personal statement and enthusiasm for your intended course are also very important. Think ahead while taking your A-Levels and do activities outside of school time that supports your intended course to include in your personal statement. These can be so important to not just to your university application, but also to your CV.

While Miss Calder was unable to persuade me to study a degree in Chemistry, I will be forever grateful to her for the UCAS reference she wrote. I would also like to thank all the staff for all their support and encouragement throughout the 7 years I was there.

Laura-Jane Edwards

My ambition has always been to become a Physiotherapist and work with athletes competing at the highest level. This is now a reality, as I have been extremely fortunate in being offered a physiotherapist internship with the Great British Bobsleigh Team.
I am currently travelling North America and Canada with the World Cup squad and in the new year will continue with them in Europe.

On leaving Sawtry CC in 2011 I studied physiotherapy at Coventry University being based at the Leicester campus and successfully qualified as a chartered physiotherapist this year.  This was a 3 year course which was challenging but very enjoyable and rewarding. The course included a lot of practical work which suited my style of learning. During my third year I started to network using twitter to follow numerous physiotherapists. One of these posted a link to a blog where the Performance Director of British Bobsleigh was advertising a Physiotherapy opportunity with the team. I thought I would ask for some advice from the Performance Director on how to get into high performance sport as a physiotherapist. The advice he gave me was “find yourself a good mentor, invest in yourself. Never stop learning. Never underestimate what body is capable of. Smile”. I was then excited when I got an extra response asking for my CV and an invitation to attend Loughborough University to observe a testing day. From then on I continued with them at their training centre based in Bath and spent a week in November at a training camp in Switzerland. Shortly after returning to the UK I was offered a physiotherapy internship for the Bobsleigh Season which started me off on this incredible journey.

Being a Physiotherapist in sport isn’t as glamorous as you might think. You work long hours and do jobs you wouldn’t normally associate with physiotherapy such as standing in  -15 degrees  filming driver technique, but it’s worth it when the excitement of race day comes! There are other areas of Physiotherapy that I am still interested in such as Paediatrics and MSK and hope to experience them soon.

I am very proud to put on the Great Britain kit and represent my country as a Physiotherapist. There’s nothing better than seeing the team you have helped stand on the top of the podium with the Union Jack flying high. I would like to thank all the teachers at Sawtry CC who helped and supported me throughout the years and believed in my vision of becoming a physiotherapist.

Follow me on my journey on twitter @LJEdwardsphysio

Laura-Jane Edwards Bsc MCSP


George Garner

Since leaving Sawtry, I have experienced things that I couldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams when I was deciding whether I wanted to go to university or not. I was one of the students that decided not to take the university path due an opportunity that I had been offered in the design industry. Before I go on, I would like to say to anyone who isn’t sure about what they want to do after school, whether that be uni, travelling or work. Just take your time and make a decision that you are 100% happy with, don’t be influenced by others and take your time to work at what YOU want.

Since my first graphics class with Mr Hughes in Years 10, I always knew that I wanted to work in design so when this opportunity came up, it was very hard for me to turn down. It was working for a company in Huntingdon that designed and manufactured store interiors. I had a relationship with the owner of this company already due to having worked there every summer after my year 10 work experience. Admittedly, it wasn’t the most glamorous of places but here I learnt invaluable skills, from 3D design and sketching techniques to how to deal directly with a client. I also started to build a portfolio that may give me a chance of getting a job with a more prestigious design company.

After approximately a year I felt I was ready for new challenge in which I could be more creative, rather than being hampered by only being able to design what could be produced in the on site factory. I put together my portfolio and went in search of design work for a professional design team, soon finding a retail design company based in St Ives and London who boasted a portfolio that included brands such Apple, Adidas and Sony, among others. After sending in my portfolio and CV, it was nervous wait to see if I would get a response and after 2 weeks of hearing nothing, I contacted the MD directly and asked him to personally take a look at my portfolio. Luckily he was impressed and later that week I had an interview and the following month I started my new job as a Creative Designer.

I have now been working at Play Design for 18 months and I can honestly say that I have achieved things that could never have imagined, worked with clients such as Harrods, Nike, Armani and Microsoft and most importantly learnt skills that will hopefully see me to kick on in a career in design. During my year and a half with PD I have received other job & interview offers, most notably from Burberry, due to having my work available to view online. However, I decided to continue working with PD due to the large array of big name clients we get to work with, I felt it was too early in my career to tie down to one brand. That is one of the main pieces of advice I would give to anyone who wants to work in design, keep your feet on the ground and learn as much as you can, as young as you can. But never be afraid to show people what you can do. I like to think I am an ambitious person though and I have set my sights on running my own design company by the age of 25. I hope to move to London in the next few years to work within a specific brand or a larger design agency.

None of this could have happened without the help and support of everybody at Sawtry CC, especially Mr Hughes, who I would like to say a very special thank you to. I will always look back on my time at Sawtry with a smile on my face, knowing that I was given the best start anyone could have hoped for. I feel this is a good opportunity to thank everyone who helped me along the way during my time at Sawtry and I can only hope that I can pass on any advice to people who may be in a similar position to me 3-5 years ago.

Thank you all so much, I will always be grateful.


Jess Leggett

After leaving Sawtry Sixth Form in the summer of 2013 I began a BA in Business and Marketing at the University of Lincoln. Going to university was always something I wanted to do going through school however I never wanted to venture too far from home! Lincoln is a beautiful, relatively small city with an extraordinary cathedral, extraordinary to look at but its location, not so extraordinary… The climb up ‘Steep Hill’ is not for the faint hearted!

I am currently in my second year of University after working all summer as a Marketing Assistant for Access Prepaid Worldwide, MasterCard. Working for MasterCard was incredibly insightful and has really showed me the section within the industry that I want to work in in the future. For those students who worry about the current battle from employers to have both a degree and experience in the work place I would suggest looking into summer placements and internships. Between your first and second year and your second and third year you have a long enough period of time to gain the experience current employers look for without having to take a year out or do a placement year.

Along with my studies I am also the Co-ordinations Director of the University of Lincoln Business Society. We have a great group of people on the committee this year and are looking forward to events we have planned. We will be hosting a Young Entrepreneur Conference in November where 7 entrepreneurs under the age of 21 who own or have sold their own businesses will give talks to the society members. One of the speakers was on the Young Apprentice last year and we will also be receiving a talk from the founder of Hype clothing.

My time at Sawtry Sixth Form was often challenging but I will be forever grateful to the teachers who gave me their full support and showed me that determination and self belief are two of the most important traits to have to guide you to success.


Owen Mooney 

This is for the students who aren’t sure about university or what course they want to do. Take you’re time, it’s more valuable than paying into something you aren’t 100% sure about. I am a good example of this. Leaving school was a big step for me, I had been offered a place to study Graphic Design at Leeds, but I decided to decline my offer. A decision I am still happy with because after taking two years out, I now know exactly what I want to do.

Taking a gap year (or two) is a breath of fresh air, you can see the world or earn some money. Having a break from education allows you to appreciate it more when/if you decide to go back to it. In my first gap year I travelled America with my best friend, it gave me confidence in my independence, and was a trip I will never forget. I then worked full time for a while, which was great earning some good money. Also it allowed me to save and move to London so I could intern at Wonderland magazine. This was a very memorable experience for me, it gave me a chance to network with some great people in my future industry and offered some exciting opportunities.

After having some time out, I discovered in myself that I want to work in the fashion industry, and I used my time getting my foot in the door. I am currently doing an Art Foundation Diploma and running a fashion blog, which I am finding very fun and a great improvement for my portfolio. I will be applying for university again at Central Saint Martins to study Fashion Communication and Promotion. I am happy to be back in education.

My life beyond Sawtry has been an unconventional one, and I’m sure all my teachers aren’t surprised. I would like to thank them for making my school life a good one, I am very grateful.


Hayden Cooper

I left Sawtry in 2014 after doing my GCSEs. I knew exactly what I wanted to do from my first year in the college due to the great facilities in the subjects I was keen on, such as design and art. My first Resistant Materials lesson with Mr Rothwell confirmed everything; that I wanted to do design engineer work. I worked hard and had fun to achieve what I wanted and I definitely cannot thank the staff at Sawtry CC enough.

During Year 11 I received 2 conditional apprenticeship contracts; one at Aston Martin and the other at Rolls Royce PLC. I took much consideration on what path to take as both were in different engineering sectors. I thankfully had the help of my form tutor to help, Mrs Richards, who was extremely supportive of my ambition. Therefore after hard thought and many hours of driving to Bristol and back to look at the company, I decided to confirm for Rolls Royce PLC. I now live 170 miles from home in a house of young professionals and love my work.

My job title is a Technical Defence Aerospace Design Engineer basically meaning after my 3 year apprenticeship, I will go on to working on and designing power for fighter jets, Red arrows and defence aerospace products. I was the first 16 year old taken on through the process so things were still being tried out, if you like I was a sort of guinea pig for the idea. So I’d say look into every route because it might happen how you’d like as it certainly has for me!

I have met some amazing people within my first month of being here and I’ve learnt how much the future is valued in the world, therefore explore what you want to do because a company somewhere is looking for their future!
Working in such a big company allows for many prospects in the future and means my tuition is paid for and I am being paid to learn which is a major bonus. This really makes me appreciate everything at Sawtry CC which helped me get to where I am now.

Being told I’d have to go on to university to carry out my course was something I personally was not aiming to do so I decided to take a more interactive route for myself. This is not to say university is not worth it, it’s just not for everyone. There are other routes and in my opinion, this was my favoured option. I’d like to say ask your teachers and family about their opinions and choices as they have been through it all and know best. I’d advise you to take every opportunity you receive as it’s the best way to achieve what you want.

Now a month on from starting the apprenticeship I am content with where I am, needless to say I do miss the school environment so make the most of it whilst it lasts but keep your head down and work.

Again I’d like to thank all the staff and my peers for the encouragement, and I’d like to hope to see you all soon.


Emily Wilson

After leaving Sawtry Sixth Form in 2012 I went up North to start my BA in Cinema and photography at the University of Leeds. I think everyone I’ve met in my time at Leeds will agree that it’s an amazing city to be a student. I would definitely recommend anyone to go there for university as there’s plenty of things to get involved in and the nightlife is great. With making any big change, I knew it was important get stuck in. I joined several societies and even got a job in the union café, it was a great way to meet new people.

After completing my second year of study I decided to take a year out for an industrial placement. I felt I needed to learn more about the film industry before I graduated and although I had gained a lot from my course I don’t believe anything compares to hands on experience.

It felt like I had written CV’s and cover letters to almost all the film companies in London before I managed to get an internship working for The Walt Disney Company, and it’s been absolutely amazing. It’s nice to be able to put your knowledge into practice and really challenge yourself. I have also met and worked with some really great people- including the real life Mickey and Minnie of course.

The decision to do an industrial placement was definitely the right one, being the only one on my degree course to do so was slightly daunting, but it’s really given me the drive to do my best in my final year (and make the most of my last years of student discounts).

Moving to central London and being in the world of full time work has definitely opened my eyes to so many opportunities, I now feel reassured that I’m definitely doing the right degree and have a better idea of where I want to be and how to get there.

I have a lot of people to thank for getting to me to where I am now, and I will never forget Sawtry CC, especially the media department for being the place to spark my initial interest in film.


Jonjo Murphy

After leaving Sawtry with a heavy heart in the summer of 2012, I began a BA in American Studies at the University of Sussex. I am currently studying for a year at the University of California, Berkeley, as part of my degree programme. I can wholeheartedly advise any sixth formers still undecided on undergraduate courses or locations to either go to Sussex (it’s an excellent University in a great city), do American studies (it’s really easy), or ideally, do both. At the very least, make sure to do a year of study abroad. There really is so much to be gained and so little to be lost from the experience.
Though I can hardly complain about life in San Francisco Bay, a part of me will always miss Sawtry, and my memories of the school will always be extremely fond. Indeed, I can sometimes still smell the sweet scent of cheese and ham toasties wafting through the canteen doors; I can hear the relentless sound of tennis ball smashing against brick wall; I can feel the surprising comfort of the blue common room chairs on my buttocks. I may have fabricated the last one, but the sentiment is true. All in all life has continued to treat me kindly, as it always did in my time at Sawtry- a place and experience for which I remain extremely grateful.”


Sami Bean
After leaving the self locking doors of Sawtry Community College for the last time in 2012 I felt a sense of achievement and fright as I took my first steps into the world that was University. To be more specific, the world of Worcester University where I am glad to say I have reached my third and final year of being and English Literature student.

My first and second year was full of proving all of my A-Level teachers right (when they say “It’s the best time of your life…” or “You’ll make friends that will be in your life forever…” they really aren’t lying, sigh) university was the best decision I have ever made and I encourage anyone reading this to at least try it, jump into something brand new! Furthermore, make sure you come to Worcester because we’ve got it all; flooding, the Tour of Britain, 10K races and of course a night life that stuns everyone (not bragging but we get all the live finalists from X Factor playing on a Monday night)… Also having chances to see local Shakespeare plays as well as seeing the Globe too.

Now sitting here, about to hit a third year of studying hard and heading towards my dissertation with a good group of friends and opportunities surrounding me, I can’t help but think back to all those English lessons with Mr. Fraser shouting out “STELLA” at the top of his lungs wondering if I was ever going to be good enough to get into doing this at degree level, but I was. I’m proud of myself and also my secondary school that gave me the inspiration and knowledge to aspire to be where I am now. So next time you’re sitting in the common room playing the lava game or playing go fish instead of studying, do a little extra work towards your coursework, you never know where it could take you…


Jess Blundell

“I have just finished and passed my first at the University of Reading doing French and Economics, it has been so good!
I have enjoyed learning more in detail of Micro and Macro, as well as improving my maths skills and doing a policy module for economics and look forward to continuing my studies on this next year.

Not only have I been enjoying my course I have been getting involved with societies and I am looking forward to being president of the French Society next year!

I have also got involved with various volunteering projects, including the Big Build Tanzania Project, where I am going in September to a little village just outside Moshi to help with renovation project on primary schools. I am going with Childreach international a charity which focuses on giving children the  basic rights that they deserve, and for this project giving the children the education that they deserve in a clean and safe environment. Unlike them  I have been able to enjoy and gain from a quality primary and secondary education.

If you would like to donate then please do so soon! ”