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Ed Talks

Ed Talks is a new podcast series from the Development Office at King Edward's School and King Edward VI High School for Girls in which Ben Anderson (2006) talks to Old Edwardians who have gone on to have successful careers in different fields.

The podcast is produced by Sound Rebel, a podcast production company that creates podcasts for businesses, organisations and charities across the UK.

If you would like to feature as a guest on the podcast, email Adelaide Bailey, Development Director, at: You can subscribe to Ed Talks on all major channels.

Please note that the views expressed are those of the speakers themselves and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of our schools, their employees or constituents.

Elliot (2006) and Zander (2009) Weaver

Filmmakers Elliot (2006) and Zander (2009) Weaver talk about their first feature length film, Cosmos and the challenges that come with producing a film with no budget.


Seb Heaven (2006)

Seb Heaven (2006) discusses his career as a doctor in Canada, and his experiences of being on the frontline during the Covid-19 pandemic.


Natalie Haynes (1993)

Author and classicist, Natalie Haynes (KEHS 1993), who currently hosts a show on BBC Radio 4 Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics, talks about her career.


Dame Louise Makin (1978)

Dame Louise Makin (KEHS 1978) talks about her career journey and her time as CEO of BTG PLC, a FTSE 250 specialist healthcare company which was acquired by Boston Scientific in 2019. She also talks passionately about the environment, discusses what the effect of being made redundant had on her life and career, and how she now spends her time on a portfolio of other roles including charity work and mentoring start-up businesses.


Hannah Proops (1997)

Hannah Proops (KEHS 1997), Director of Drama at KEHS, talks about the reasons why she campaigned to get drama taught in every year group when she took over the role of Director of Drama, and how the subject has now grown to over 70 students studying GCSE Drama and 20 students studying Theatre Studies at A Level.



Responses to Covid-19: Panel Discussion with Alexa Joyce (1996), Malcolm Warr OBE (1967), and Dr Hermine Graham (current KEHS parent)

Alexa Joyce (Education & Skills Director, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Microsoft Corporation), Malcolm Warr OBE (Chair of CNI Scotland) and Dr Hermine Graham (Clinical Psychologist and Board Member of the UK Advisory Board for Safer Gambling) talk about the impacts that Covid-19 has had on our society as a whole outside of the physical health implications, discussing digital transformations and other positive changes that we are able to take from the pandemic with lockdowns allowing us to hit the reset button in many aspects of our lives.


Lee Child (1973) and Andrew Child

Celebrated author OE Lee Child (alias Jim Grant) and his brother Andrew discuss the future of Jack Reacher, growing up in Birmingham and Lee's time at KES. Lee also shares his own experience of redundancy and offers advice to those facing uncertainty in employment. 

Richard Wolffe (1987)

US columnist for The Guardian, Richard Wolffe (1987), talks about the Black Lives Matter movement, the 2020 US Presidential Election, Joe Biden and Donald Trump.  

Please note that the views expressed are those of the speakers themselves and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of our schools, their employees or constituents.

Sumit Dheir (2006)

Since leaving university Sumit Dheir (2006) has worked in finance, first for an investment bank and now for a private equity firm. Sumit talks about how his A Level Economics classes with Mr Mason inspired him to want to work within the field of finance, and how working within private equity allows him to use the principles he learned about with active businesses.


Professor Emma Rees (1987)

Professor Emma Rees, Director of the Institute of Gender Studies at Chester University, discusses a number of topics, from the work she does at the university around gender and identity to her published work. She talks about what it's been like to lecture through Covid and how her students have been faring, and also why she has her pronouns (she / her) on her email signature.



Grace Gwynne (2013)

Grace Gwynne (2013), Third Six Pupil at No5 Barristers' Chambers in Birmingham, talks about her route to becoming a barrister, and how it wasn't always an easy journey - she faced a number of setbacks in her career journey and talks about how important persistence is when it comes to achieving your goals.


The Sehdev Sisters (2001, 2005 and 2011)

In this episode, Old Edwardian Ben Anderson (2006) talks to four sisters who all went to KEHS, Gayatri Sehdev (2001), Sara Sehdev (2005), Jyoti Sehdev (2011) and Aarti Sehdev (2011).

Lexi Willetts (1999)

Lexi Willetts left KEHS in 1999, starting her career as an intellectual property lawyer. Working as Head of IP for Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), during her tenure FIFA revolutionised their commercial programme by announcing two World Cup host countries at the same time. Some five years later and after completing a masters, she transitioned to consumer tech and is now the Founder and CEO of fashion-tech venture, Little Black Door.


Robert Whalley (1965)

Robert Whalley (1965) talks about his time working for the Civil Service, including his position as the Home Office's Director for Counter-Terrorism and Intelligence, a role that he was in for 9/11 and for the London bombings of 2005.

Please note that the views expressed are those of the speakers themselves and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of our schools, their employees or constituents.



Lindsey Davis (1967)

Lindsey Davis (1967) talks about what it's like to be a writer, but also reflects back on both Birmingham and wider society in terms of how gender roles have changed since she was a girl.



The Student Callers

In this episode we take a break from the norm as instead of talking to an Old Edwardian, Ben talks to four current students - two boys from KES and two girls from KEHS.

Vedika, Jimmy, Alicia and Louis are all Student Callers raising money for the Assisted Places Fund in their summer holidays.


Jean Moule (1973)

Jean talks about her experiences of the school from both sides of the staff room door, but also about the changes she's seen during her time at KEHS both in terms of the changes at school itself and the changes in society.

Tom Johnson (1965)

Tom Johnson (1965) has compiled and edited crosswords for The Financial Times, The New Statesman, The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian amongst others, and recently had his first crossword in The Times. The Spectator also celebrated 50 years of its crossword recently - Tom has been involved for the last 40 of those.

James Forrest (2002)

James Forrest was given the nickname 'The Mountain Man' by The Sunday Telegraph, and for very good reason - he has recently broken the speed record for climbing the three British peaks unsupported. He's climbed every single mountain in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland in the fastest known time, and his book Mountain Man documents the first part of this journey when he climbed all of England and Wales' mountains whilst holding down a job and trekking in his spare time. James is now a full-time adventurer, and talks about how he has turned his passion into his living. After leaving KES he studied history at university, and ended up working in the charity sector. However, an office job wasn't for him - so he took a gap year in his 30s and then decided to completely change how he lived moving forwards.

His Honour Nicholas Cooke QC (1973)

His Honour Nicholas Cooke QC is a former Senior Circuit Judge at the Central Criminal Court, often referred to as "The Old Bailey". Despite retiring as a judge a few years ago, he is keeping incredibly busy - he was recently made an Honorary Fellow at Aberystwyth University, he's doing a Research Degree at Oxford, he's on the Development Board of performing arts charity Orpheus, and he's the Chair of Fields in Trust Wales. In this conversation, Nick is incredibly honest about how he has seen the judicial system in the UK change over the course of his career, and how this contributed towards his reasons for retiring - and for his reasons to start a Research Degree in his sixth decade.

Professor Marian Knight (KEHS 1986)

Professor Marian Knight is a maternal and child health researcher and public health physician and was recently elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. She leads MBRRACE-UK and the UK Obstetric Surveillance System and has spoken widely about Covid and pregnancy as well as ethnic disparities in maternity care. In this conversation, she talks about these issues and the research these organisations have been carrying out.

Ian Metcalfe (1976)

Ian Metcalfe is the Chair of Commonwealth Games England and in this conversation talks about what an international event like the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham does for a city like ours. Ian is a proud Brummie and came back to the city straight after university. He is a solicitor by training and had a hugely successful career with international law firm Wragge & Co (retiring as a managing partner) but sport has always been his passion - one which was very much developed when he was on the sports fields at KES.

Duncan Grierson (1987)

Duncan Grierson (1987) is an entrepreneur with a track record of building cleantech companies, and in this conversation he talks about his most recent venture, Clim8.

Beth Heaven (KEHS 2008)

Beth Heaven is Partnerships and Digital Senior Manager working at The Walt Disney Company's head office in London. Beth's journey to Disney has been anything but linear, and being in such a creative role at one of the most creative companies in the world, it may be surprising to hear that Beth studied biochemistry after leaving KEHS and even went for a finance job with one of the Big Four companies before deciding that it wasn't for her. Beth is currently working in the products part of the business, working with partners such as Lego and H&M who use the Disney IP as part of their own product lines, but she also talks about the other areas of the business she's worked in prior to this role (including a brief stint as a presenter on Disney's YouTube channel).

Melanie Etti (KEHS 2007)

Melanie is a Fulbright Scholar completing a Master of Public Health degree at Harvard University. She spent much of 2020 working as a researcher in Uganda and will be continuing work within the field of global health during her year of postgraduate study. In this conversation she talks about how following her passions has been the driving force behind her career decisions, rather than following a predetermined career plan. She talks about the importance of hard work, determination and tenacity, but she's also incredibly modest about what she's achieved - very few people are offered Fulbright scholarships, and she's absolutely making the most of her opportunity in the States.



Dr Chris Duncan (KES 2009) and Dr Sarb Clare

Dr. Chris Duncan and Dr. Sarb Clare have accomplished something extraordinary together: whilst both working on the NHS frontline of the COVID pandemic they have also written a medical textbook, published with Cambridge University Press, which could revolutionise patient care in the future. The book is called Ultrasound for the Generalist which focuses on point of care ultrasound and the multitude of benefits that new portable ultrasound technology can provide in areas around the world. The book was supposed to be published in 2020, but Sarb and Chris were needed on the frontline when the pandemic hit. They talk about their experiences of working within the NHS during this difficult time, and offer some insight in to how the NHS is faring in January 2022, nearly two years after the world first went in to lockdown.



Anya Duxbury (KEHS 2019)

Anya is a recent KEHS leaver and is currently in the United States studying Business at Alma College in Michigan for a year - however, her passion is anthropology, which is the degree she's taking a short break from before she returns to Queen's Belfast to complete it next year. In this conversation Anya talks about the subject of anthropology itself, and how discovering it almost by chance set her off in a completely different direction with her life. As you will hear, Anya is hugely passionate about the subject and has recently been appointed as the National Vice Ambassador for the UK in the Applied Anthropology Network of Europe. She believes that some of the character traits that were instilled in her at KEHS had a part to play in this appointment, and we believe these same traits mean that she has a fantastic career ahead of her!


Nisha Pillai (KEHS 1979)

Nisha is a former BBC News presenter with over 20 years experience, including being a rolling news anchor for BBC World News as well as an investigative journalist for Panorama and The Money Programme. However, this wasn't the path that she set out on after leaving KEHS as a degree from LSE led to a short career within merchant banking before she realised that this wasn't her passion and became a financial journalist, the path that eventually led her to the news desk. In this conversation, Nisha talks about her career as an investigative journalist and in particular, one story that she was at the forefront of - the Robert Maxwell case. She also talks about her career as a news anchor, and what it's like to be on screen when breaking news comes in - she was on air on 9/11, and had to both simultaneously process her emotions as a human being witnessing one of the most tragic events in our history whilst also being the calm and collected face of the BBC.


Jules Parke-Robinson (KEHS 1993)

Jules left KEHS and went on to Aberystwyth University, but from a young age knew she wanted to join the military. After completing her Masters Degree, she went to Sandhurst to train as an Officer and subsequently joined the Royal Military Police. Jules stayed with the Military Police for 21 years, where she became Commanding Officer of the Special Investigations branch. She explains the kind of work she did, gathering evidence across the globe, and also why she decided to leave the military and work in the corporate sector (she is currently Global Head of Investigations at GSK Consumer Healthcare). With the Commonwealth Games now just around the corner, Jules also talked about her role as the Chair of British Wheelchair Basketball - and what our chances are for the summer!


Neil Moxley (KES 1987)

Neil is the Chief Sports Reporter at The Sunday People and has previously worked for the Daily Mirror and the Daily Star, covering sports events across the globe. In this conversation, Neil talks about the play review he wrote at KES that sparked his passion for writing, and how his upbringing set him up to be able to feel confident in any situation as a journalist. Neil writes about many different sports but has a huge passion in particular for football. In this conversation, he talks about how he has seen the game change over his thirty-year career, and how the huge commercial interest in the industry of football has had both positive and negative impacts.

Nick Varley (KES 1986)

Nick is the founder of LookUp Communications and former CEO and founding partner of the content agency Seven46. Seven46 were known as the "bid specialists" because of their work helping countries to bid for major sporting events, and in this conversation Nick talks about his experience working with the London 2012 team to help them shape the story that won the UK the Olympic Games. After the success of the London 2012 bid, Nick went on to work with the teams who won bids for Rio, Tokyo and Paris, and talks about what the awarding committee are looking for when choosing a country to host the world's biggest event. He also talks about his career as a journalist and an author, and how this experience helped him to write the speeches that people like Lord Coe and Ken Livingstone gave as part of the London 2012 bid. Despite always having a love for sport, he never thought that his career would take him in the direction that it did - even though the seeds were planted when he was in the Sixth Form at KES.



Howard Williamson (KES 1972)

Howard is currently a Professor at The University of South Wales and has spent his career researching and teaching on the subject of young people and issues that affect them, from working as a lecturer to a government advisor in countries all over the world. Howard talks about how he always had a rebellious streak as a young man, and how King Edward's School helped to "consolidate this rebelliousness" - he believes that going to the school gave him a confidence to approach any situation, and he's as comfortable in a government meeting room as he is in a local youth centre.


Charlotte Gallant: Archiving the school's history for future generations

This episode of Ed Talks is slightly different, as we're not talking to an Old Edwardian - but instead, someone who knows Old Edwardians rather well, both present and past. Charlotte Gallant is the Foundation Archivist, and her role is to preserve and curate the archives of all of the King Edward VI Foundation schools. In this conversation, Charlotte talks about the kind of things that are in the King Edward's archive, but also about how she curates it - what will people like to look back on? What will give them a sense of what the schools are like today, in a hundred years time? How does she choose what goes into the archive and what doesn't?


Prof. Oliver Johnson (KES 1992) & Rik Ubhi (KES 2004)

Professor Oliver Johnson (1992) and Rik Ubhi (2004) join Ben to talk about working together on Oliver's new book Numbercrunch: A Mathematician's Toolkit for Making Sense of Your World. Rik is the Editorial Director of Heligo (an imprint of Bonnier Books) and when Oliver's proposal came to him, he didn't know about the Old Eds link. A conversation about a mutual shared love of Aston Villa led to a conversation about their upbringings, which of course led them to realise they'd both walked the same corridors at King Edward's School.