Alumni Stories

Emily Cummings

Emily, 25, is an award-winning inventor whose interest in design began at the age of four, when her grandfather gave her a hammer and began to teach her how to make toys from scraps of materials found in his garden shed. Whilst studying at South Craven School, Emily designed and manufactured a number of successful products during her technology lessons. Her most famous invention is a sustainable fridge which is ‘powered’ by dirty water but keeps the contents dry, hygienic and cool. During her gap year, Emily went to live in an African township where she refined her fridge design before giving away her plans to benefit people living in poverty across southern Africa.Emily now divides her time through mentoring, public speaking and consultancy. Recently she has been establishing a social enterprise called Big Promise. The business is currently in its inception phase and is canvassing support from a whole range of people and businesses. Emily knows the importance of capturing young people’s imagination and creativity and inspiring young people, which through Big Promise she hopes to achieve; her aim is to set up a network of initiatives that supports the next generation to find their passions and fulfil their potential. She wants to encourage a shift in the way that young people are taught; and encourage schools to embrace new approaches and new ways of working. She has also been working with a new start-up business called PV Education creating educational apps for tablet computers in school. As a result of her work, Emily was named as one of the Top Ten Outstanding Young People in the World 2010 and the Barclays Woman of the Year 2009. 

Jon Chapman

Jon Chapman left South Craven School in 1986 and went to study Mathematics at the University of Oxford (1st Class). He stayed on at Oxford for a D Phil (the Oxford name for a PhD) in Applied Mathematics, completing in just over two years what is normally a three year programme.

Jon then moved to Stanford University in Palo Alto, California to do postdoctoral research, before returning to Oxford on a postdoctoral fellowship, followed by another fellowship (also in Oxford) sponsored by The Royal Society.

In 1999, at the age of only 30, Jon became Professor of Mathematics and its Applications at Oxford, his first permanent position, and one of only three professors in applied Mathematics at Oxford at that time. He still holds that position.

Jon’s current position involves mainly research, but also some lecturing. His research involves many different areas of applied Mathematics, and often involves making mathematical models of real-world problems. Jon has applied Mathematics to areas as diverse as superconductivity, metal fatigue, radar and sonar scattering, fluid turbulence, tumour growth, ship waves, industrial processes, chemical reactions, random motion, cardiac electromechanics and gene therapy.

Jon has held visiting positions at Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, the California Institute of Technology, USA, and the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Jon has also supervised the research studies of nineteen Masters students and twenty-eight Doctoral students.

Jon has been a plenary lecturer at many international conferences and has lectured at the British Association Festival of Science. He has received a number of international prizes for his work.

Emily Yates

Emily was nominated by one of her teachers to take part in a trip to Southern Africa organised by JoLt in 2008. That trip, encouraged by the school, gave her the confidence, knowledge and ambition she has today. After leaving South Craven School in 2010 Emily did an expedition to the Sinai Desert with the Yorkshire Schools Exploring Society over the summer holidays.

On her return to the UK, Emily started studying English Literature at Queen Mary, University of London. While at University she was the President of the university’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) which aims to empower others socially, economically and environmentally through the positive power of business.

Emily is currently on a year-long student exchange at the University of Melbourne studying English Literature, Philosophy and Creative Writing. She lives at St Mary’s College in Melbourne, and has a part time job as a receptionist. Emily also volunteers in Melbourne’s juvenile prison.

Charlotte Booth

Charlotte left South Craven School with A Levels in English, Business and Psychology setting her in good stead to start her degree in Public Relations. Having always had an interest in business and communications, she spent her year 11 work experience placement with a top PR agency in Leeds. During her time at Leeds Metropolitan University, she combined her studying with part-time work in PR to continue developing her skills and knowledge of the industry – something that later became invaluable when being interviewed for full-time positions. With a love for new experiences, after graduating she spent a year travelling across the world starting out with the luxurious coast of California and ending on a very different note with the fascinating but eye-opening India. The whole journey provided a toolkit of life skills that still, to this day, contributes to her general outlook and approach.

Within a month of landing back in the UK, Charlotte started working as a junior account executive for a Bradford PR agency and over the last 6 years she has quickly climbed up the ladder. At the start of 2012, she took the leap from being in full-time employment to self-employed. And, adding to the challenge, she moved to Paris, spending her first seven months in business teaching companies to communicate better in the English language. She is now back in the UK and running her own PR and internet marketing consultancy which she hopes with her passion, determination and drive will continue to develop.

Sonia Lockwood

After passing her A Levels (A Psychology, B Biology, B Chemistry, C General Studies) Sonia gained a place at the University of Manchester Medical School, studying Medicine for five years. In 2002 in her final year she worked for three months in Trinidad in the West Indies on a medical elective in emergency medicine and emergency paediatric medicine at the Port of Spain Hospital and the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex respectively. She returned to the UK to complete her degree and graduated from Manchester with a distinction in her Finals in 2003.

From August 2003-2004 Sonia worked at Hope Hospital, Salford as a pre-registration house officer before obtaining a place on the Basic Surgical Training Programme within the Yorkshire School of Surgery. The rotation involved working in several surgical specialties and hospitals throughout Yorkshire including; Pinderfields, Calderdale Royal Hospital, Huddersfield Royal Hospital and the General Infirmary in Leeds. Sonia achieved her membership to the Royal College of Surgeons of England (MRCS) after just two years in 2006.

In 2007 Sonia obtained a National Training Number in General Surgery. Since 2007 she has worked as a Specialist Registrar in General Surgery within the Yorkshire and Humberside region. She passed her exit exams in 2012 and was awarded her Fellowship to the Royal College of Surgeons of England in February. She has just over one year left in her surgical training before she finishes and becomes a Consultant Colorectal and General Surgeon. Sonia has worked throughout the Yorkshire and Humberside region over the last five years but she is currently working as a Senior General Surgical Registrar at the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield.

Alongside her higher surgical training, Sonia has simultaneously graduated with a Masters Degree in Healthcare Ethics and Law at the University of Manchester in 2010. She has published and presented in the fields of general and plastic surgery, medical education, emergency medicine and healthcare ethics. She has many subsidiary roles which include being the Affiliate Representative for the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland (ASGBI), where she is one of the first female surgeons to sit on council. She is involved in the regional teaching programme for junior surgeons and medical students. In addition, she works for Oxford University Press (OUP) as a medical text book reviewer.

Sonia now lives in Luddendenfoot just outside Hebden Bridge and in 2008 married her ‘high school’ boyfriend after twelve years. They enjoy travelling and sight-seeing and have had the privilege of travelling to South America, America, Russia, China, Egypt, South Africa, Northern Africa, Central and Eastern Europe.

Thom Hardaker

Thom Hardaker was born in Sutton-in-Craven in 1990. He studied at South Craven School from 2001-2006. He started to play the piano at 5 years old, and then moved to the accordion at the age of 6, studying under Professor Harry Hinchcliffe at the Craven School of Music, Cross Hills until the age of 16. Thom has won many competitions, including the Northern Ireland Accordion Competition in 2004, the Scottish National Accordion Championship in 2005, UK National Championship in 2003 and 2011, the International Baltic Music Festival, St. Petersburg Russia in 2009 and Yugoria International Bayan and Accordion competition, Surgut, Siberia, April 2012.

Thom spent his 6th year at the Rimsky-Korsakov State Conservatory, St Petersburg, Russia, studying a Masters Degree of Music, specialised in the teaching and performing of the accordion under Professor Oleg Sharov.