For more information and profiles on our Old Tauntonians, please visit the Old Tauntonians website.
Academia – UK
Dr Mike Parker-Pearson
Dr Mike Parker-Pearson is an internationally renowned expert in the archaeology of death and also specialises in the later prehistory of Britain and Northern Europe and the archaeology of Madagascar and the western Indian Ocean. He worked as an archaeologist for English Heritage and his excavations at Stonehenge have attracted media interest, culminating in his appearances on the Channel 4 TV show ‘Time Team’.
Professor Philip Withers
Philip Withers, one of the country’s top professors, has been recognised with one of the most coveted awards in teaching: The Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education. This was awarded for part of his ground-breaking work ‘New techniques in X-ray imaging of materials critical for power, transport and other key industries’. This innovative imaging work has an impact across a range of sectors, including nuclear, aerospace, oil and gas, airport security, automotive, biomedical materials, manufacturing and defence.
Academia – USA
Professor Michael Goodchild
Emeritus Professor of Geography at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He was awarded the Prix Vautrin Lud, regarded by many as the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for Geography. The international award is named after a C16th French map maker who is credited as being the first to name the New World ‘America’. Michael became the 19th scholar to have won the prestigious annual award.
Arts – Acting
Edward Bluemel left Taunton School in 2011 and has since had leading roles in theatre, film and television. He is best known for his role as Hugo in the award winning series, Killing Eve, Marcus in Sky’s A Discovery of Witches and Toby in ITV’s World-War Two period drama, The Halcyon. He has starred in various theatre productions, notably Love in Idleness, alongside established actors Eve Best and Anthony Head and Touch at the Soho Theatre.
Ian McNeice features in a number of popular films including ‘The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain’, ‘Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls’, and Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’. He plays Bert Large in ITV’s ‘Doc Martin’ and The Newsreader in historical drama ‘Rome’. He has also applied his distinctive voice and accent to voice-acting roles: the Vogon character Kwaltz (director of the Vogon Constructor Fleet) in the 2005 film adaptation of Douglas Adams’ multi-format creation ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’.
Barbara Jefford OBE
In 2013, Barbara Jefford played Sister Hildegard in Stephen Frears’ Philomena with Dame Judi Dench and Steve Coogan. She is also the voice (uncredited) of the Russian heroine in the James Bond film ‘From Russia with Love, which led her to provided additional voice work in later Bond films, dubbing Mollie Peters in ‘Thunderball’ and Caroline Munro in ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’.
A talented actor, director and writer, partnered with his expert knowledge of pantomime is what made Chris Harris’ reputation as one of the UK’s favourite Dames. Notable achievements include co-directing the opera Griselda for the Buxton Festival, appearing in productions for Dutch television, and writing, directing and starring in pantomimes for the Bristol Old Vic and Theatre Royal, Bath.
Arts – Musician
Gwynne Edwards was one of the leading viola players of his era, renowned for his rich and vibrant tone. He was Professor of Viola and Chamber Music at the Royal Academy of Music, where he taught for 36 years, and in a long playing career had been principal violist with the London Symphony Orchestra and Sinfonia of London as well as co-principal of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic.
OT Mark Getty is a philantropist and co-founder of the stock photo agency, Getty Images. He co-founded Getty Investments LLC Group with Jonathan Klein in 1993. As Chairman of the company, it has become a major supplier of both commercial and private photographs, notably for publications in the UK, U.S. and internationally.
Kit Chapman MBE
Kit Chapman is the owner and Chairman of the The Castle Hotel, Taunton’s landmark hotel which sits proudly on Castle Green. He is a widely respected champion of British cooking and a leading activist within the hospitality industry. As well as being a well-known personality on the British hotel and restaurant scene, Chapman is a renowned writer and television presenter. In 1989 he was appointed an MBE for his work in the hospitality and tourism industry.
Leslie Scott is a board game designer and author, best known for being the inventor of the extremely popular game ‘Jenga’, which she launched at the London Toy Fair in 1983. Over 50 million Jenga games, equivalent to more than 2.7 billion Jenga blocks, have been sold worldwide and continue to be popular within households across the world.
Presenter of news bulletins on BBC One, BBC News and BBC World News. Tim Willcox is most recognised for presenting the BBC’s live coverage from Chile during events surrounding the Copiapó mining accident and anchoring the BBC’s live day time coverage during the early days of the Cairo January 2011 Egyptian revolution. Willcox previously worked for ITN News as a presenter and correspondent.
Gamal Fahnbulleh is a broadcast journalist and presenter. He has worked for ITN and Sky News. In June 2013 he joined the ITV’s ‘Good Morning Britain’ as a correspondent. Fahnbulleh was also one of the first reporters at the scene of the student protests in November 2010. In August 2014 he rejoined Sky News as a presenter.
Rob Marshall is the Chief Engineering Officer for the Red Bull Racing Formula One Team. After dreaming up race-winning machinery from a young age, he went on to work for Rolls Royce before securing a role at the Benetton F1 team. Marshall and his team produced the R25 which took Alonso to his first title win.
Tom Abell was crowned Somerset Cricket Captain in December 2016 at the age of 22, making him one of the youngest captains on the county circuit. He achieved a Flexible Combined Honours (FCH) degree in Sports Science and French from the University of Exeter. During this time he was signed onto a development contract, before going full time in 2016.
R. A. Gerrard
R. A. Gerrard was a pupil at Taunton School between the Wars. He was talented in a wide variety of sports, including rugby, for which he was capped for England 14 times. He was killed in action in 1942 and a fund set up in his memory contributes to the Scholarship scheme. The Gerrard Sports Awards are named after him.
Sue Brown is an English former cox notable for being the first woman to compete in the 152-year history of The Boat Race in 1988, where she coxed the Oxford VIII. Brown previously coxed the British women’s IV at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, and also the Oxford VIII in the 1982 race which Oxford won by three-and-a-quarter lengths.
John Randall Daniel “Bob” Braham was a Royal Air Force (RAF) night fighter pilot and fighter ace during the Second World War. In 1940 he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) and two years later promoted to squadron leader, receiving the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) in October the same year. Braham also flew missions with RAF Coastal Command, enabling him to be promoted to wing commander and given command of No. 141 Squadron RAF. He was the most highly decorated airman in RAF Fighter Command and most successful British pilot on twin-engine aircraft.
Jeremy Wright is an English Conservative Party politician and the current Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency of Kenilworth and Southam in Warwickshire. In 2014, David Cameron appointed Wright as Attorney-General for England and Wales and ex-officio Advocate General for Northern Ireland.