Bursary pupil profile

Bursary Recipient Interview

An interview with a Charlie Pemberton (Foxes/Beech ’16), bursary recipient and currently studying for a Doctorate at Cambridge University.
How long were you at the school?
“I attended Wellington School for eight years: 2008-2016. I joined when the Prep Form (Year 6) was still a part of the Senior School (and distinctly remember being quite terrified of the comparatively ginormous Year 8s!). I was a member of Linden before moving up to Fox’s in Year 9; I gained dual house membership when I entered Beech to board for most of Upper Sixth.”

What did it mean for you to come to Wellington?
“It meant the world. I’m from an underprivileged background and had a significantly tough childhood. To put it bluntly: I came with a hefty amount of baggage. Nevertheless, Wellington decided to take a punt on me. After taking the entrance exam and having a scholarship interview, I received an academic bursary of 66.6% (two thirds) from Wellington, the other third paid for by an independent charity. Around half way through my schooling, I was also awarded a music exhibition to help with singing lessons. When home circumstances became difficult during my application for Cambridge, they also funded my boarding. At every hurdle – be it financial, pastoral or otherwise - Wellington delivered.”

What did you do at Wellington?
“Too much! I always made sure that academic work took priority, but singing was an intrinsic part of my school career. In fact, it was my music teacher at primary school who pointed me in the direction of the school after beginning to teach vocal lessons there. I swiftly joined the Chapel Choir in Prep Form where I would remain for the entirety of my time at Welly, eventually becoming Choral Senior. Under the indefatigable baton of Mr Trewhella, I took part in countless first-class services and concerts – from Carmina Burana to Will Todd’s Mass in Blue and everything in between! It would take forever to recount all the musical opportunities I received, but I will never forget the feeling when I won the advanced class of the Hannam Music Prize in. My last hurrah as Dido in a semi-staged performance in chapel of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas was inexpressibly special. A contingent of Latin teachers past and present – two of whom had already retired – came to watch. Clear testimony, I think, to just how invested Wellington’s teachers are in their pupils. 
The teaching at Wellington is too often overshadowed by extra-curricular dazzle; without a doubt, it was my time in the classroom that led me to become the woman I am today. I quickly fell in love with the arts: languages in particular, but I owe much of my academic
rigour and style to the English department who never ceased to push me beyond my preconceived limits.”

What are you doing now?
“I am studying for a Doctorate at Newnham College, University of Cambridge, alongside being a choral scholar at Selwyn. The lifestyle is demanding but infinitely rewarding. The ambition and drive which Wellington fostered in me has proved invaluable: I gained a First in my degree and was awarded a College scholarship and Faculty prize for my results. I am quite set on a career in academia, and have recently fallen in love with the discipline of ancient art history.

How did the school help you to get to where you are now?
“Without Wellington, I would not be where I am today. It may sound a tad hyperbolic to some, but I really do owe the school my life. I consider several members of staff and the school collectively as family. I came to the school as a (very small) bundle of potential, but that potential needed support, guidance and stability in order to flourish. Wellington provided all of this and so much more.”
Charlie Pemberton