We asked eight former pupils to share their memories of school

Words: Alice Cairns, Sophia Charalambous, Jonathan Whiley

Don Warrington
Actor, star of Rising Damp and Death in Paradise

Did you decide you wanted to be an actor at school?
I decided I wanted to be an actor when I was very small in Trinidad. I was taken to a Bollywood movie. There was a prince and a princess and he would sing and dance and fight and I thought, ‘I’d like to do that when I grow up, I’d like to go around and rescue princesses’. Later on, at school I saw a film called On the Waterfront starring Marlon Brando and I thought I really want to do that. I really want to feel those emotions because I didn’t think that one would feel them in life. I think I found ordinary life a bit boring.

What are your memories of secondary school?
I attended St Aloysius Roman Catholic Boys School. School was tough. You had to adapt, and become like everybody else, so I became a Geordie. I developed skills, which I suppose later I used as an actor. I knew how to make friends, how to make myself interesting to people just to survive. I didn’t tell anybody I wanted to be an actor; it was a secret. I remember doing one play at school, and I played the servant, obviously, who was a rather old servant, and because it was a Catholic school the bishop came to see it, and there was one scene where I had to see a ghost and he told me that he believed I had seen a ghost, so I took that as a sign that I could do it.

Did you have a favourite subject?
There were two; English and French. I remember my English teacher, Mr Hughes, he had a very bad temper but I liked him. He just used to lose his temper if you didn’t get something right – I think I liked his passion. My French teacher, he had such a temper, too, he would just scream at you. It was a time when kids could be punished. We used to get the strap and teachers had carte blanche to throw books at you and lift you by your ear.

Tell us about acting school, Drama Centre
I got the chance to do restoration comedy, Shakespeare, Greek plays, Russian plays, things that, professionally, I’ve never done. At that time, being a black actor, you really didn’t do restoration comedy or Greek plays. I was given this education because their philosophy was we don’t care what theatre is like now, we care about what theatre should be. They taught me everything.


Francis Cleverdon
Manager, Hatchards

Which school/schools did you attend?
University College School, Hampstead.

Earliest school memory?
Having my lip sewn up having fallen off a wall.

What advice would you offer to your younger self?
Keep reading.

Who was your favourite teacher and why?
Terry Morris in history. Inspirational and rude; what more could you want?

How did school inspire your career? 
It gave me a constant desire to read new things and an understanding that there always are new things.

187 Piccadilly


Edward Bodenham
Director, Floris

Which schools did you attend?
Wallop and then Woburn Hill in Weybridge, followed by The Oratory, near Reading.

Earliest school memory?
The smell of the rice pudding topped with brown demerara sugar being served when I was at nursery school.

What was your favourite subject?
Music, because I love music and it was always such an enjoyable class and you used to get to try all sorts of weird and wonderful instruments. They used to teach us songs by The Beatles and The Kinks as well as a selection of classical pieces.

Who was your favourite teacher?
My piano teacher Mr. Holmes, as he was always very kind and so patient when it must have been extremely painful trying to teach me the same piece of music over and over again. The heads of music, Mr & Mrs Krump were a lovely couple too.

How did school inspire your career?
I can’t really say that school inspired my career, but related to my career, one of the friendliest teachers used to religiously wear our Elite fragrance and he was so surprised when he once saw a letter addressed to me on a Floris branded envelope and so asked me about it. The way that he passionately spoke about our fragrances so was so heart-warming and is something that I have always remembered very fondly.

Most important lesson you took away?
To find something that you enjoy and work hard.

89 Jermyn Street


Lucy Challenger
CEO & founder of luxury domestic service recruitment specialist Polo & Tweed

Where did you go to school?
Sutton High School and Epsom College.

Did you enjoy it?
I had a challenging time. I was really badly bullied at the all-girls school that I went to when I was 13. My life was miserable. Then my parents helped me to move to Epsom College, which had just gone co-ed. I went from an all-girls school to suddenly being in a year full of boys. It worked really well for me. Boys are so much more direct in dealing with relationships, which was more healthy for me.

What was your favourite subject?
All the creative ones! I was in all the school plays, and I loved Theatre Studies, Classics and English.

Who was your favourite teacher?
Mr Sheehan, who sadly passed away a number of years ago. He was my English teacher and the director of all the school plays, and he was just this charismatic, joyful, inspiring man who opened up the world of acting and the passion of theatre and performance to me.

What was the most important lesson you learnt at school?
That if you want to do something, and you put your mind to it and work really hard, you can achieve it. It gave me a chance to experiment and to fail, and to learn from that failure. It gave me an incredible sense of confidence that I’ve carried with me for my entire life, and into the business I’ve created.

Mayfair Green Park House, 15 Stratton Street


Dr Adrian Rainbow
Head of Eaton Square Senior School

Did you enjoy school?
Secondary school was the worst five years of my life. My brother was a year older than me, and he wasn’t the best behaved, so I was tarred with the same brush. My grades suffered, I was truant, and all I wanted was to be outside throwing a football around. I certainly didn’t see education as a way to get me anywhere.

Who was your favourite teacher?
I had an exchange teacher from California called Mark Stafford who came in and taught us Western civilisation. Without him, I don’t think I would be where I am now. It’s one of those cliched situations where a teacher saved me. He made me like school again, made me appreciate learning. He supported me both in the classroom and pastorally. It’s made me really, unashamedly idealistic about the power of education to transform young people, and the impact that teachers can have either positively or negatively.

What was your favourite subject?
English Literature. I’m really interested in novels that are about something, novels that have teeth, and plant seeds, and transform you, which I think all great literature does. English is so good for empathy.

Did you always know you wanted to be a teacher?
No! I went to the University of British Columbia in Canada on an American football scholarship and I was drafted into the Canadian Football League in my senior year. I then went to Germany and played American football professionally for 10 years. I did my PHD while playing. It was when I finished that that I began to think about teaching. Both my parents had been teachers, and I’d always thought I wouldn’t do that. But here I am!

What are you like as a teacher?
Because of my time as an athlete I’ve got really high expectations, and I’m very competitive. Every minute of every lesson is an opportunity for our students to develop and grow. I think intensely about how hard work and commitment from the staff can help each child achieve.

How are you finding Eaton Square Senior School?
I’ve been here since January and it’s really cool, an awesome community. I love how international the school is, and we really celebrate our diversity. London is our playground, our canvas and our classroom. We’re always going out and exploring, looking to deliver a holistic, rounded education.

106 Piccadilly


Jean-Philippe Blondet
Chef patron of Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester

What schools did you attend?
I first was at Ecole Primaire La Pinède in Cagnes sur Mer. I then went to middle school Les Bréguières, also in Cagnes. And finally joined the École Hôtelière et de Tourisme Jeanne et Paul Augier in Nice.

Earliest school memory?
When I started learning how to write my name, I do remember staying in class whilst the others were going to play during the break, because my name was long!

What were you like at school?
I was very discreet – staying in a corner of the room, avoiding to participate too much.

Favourite subject and why?
My favourite subject was business management when I started at my hospitality school. Looking at figures and working on concrete numbers was very logical, and I really enjoyed that.

Favourite teacher and why?
The teacher who I feel was ahead of his time and with whom I learnt a lot is Mr Jean Montagard. He was teaching us how to cook vegetarian food;  how to choose produce and in season. Back in those days, it was a very different approach to have.

Most important lesson you took away?
During my studies, I was driven from a very discreet profile to assert myself. That if I wanted to be heard I had to speak.

What are your earliest memories of working with Alain Ducasse?
I first met Mr Ducasse at the Sanderson Hotel, when I was working at his restaurant, Spoon. It was only a few days before I joined his other team at the three Michelin starred Le Louis XV in Monaco. He shook my hand and told me to be ready for this bigger challenge!

What does it mean to you to be part of the Mayfair community?
Mayfair is such a vibrant neighbourhood where you can find a large range of local shops with an elevated quality of service. I am grateful every day when coming to the iconic The Dorchester.



Georgina Khachadourian
Mayfair resident and founder of Pullman Editions Ltd

Which schools did you attend?
Westdale Junior School and Frank Wheldon Secondary School (subsequently burned down!) in Nottingham.

Earliest school memory?
Overhearing I was “top of the class” at a parents’ evening at my junior school. I would have been around nine. I don’t think it went to my head!

What was your favourite subject?
I loved sport so PE was my favourite ‘subject’. I played for the school hockey, netball and swimming teams, as well as practising Kung Fu (out of school).

Who was your favourite teacher and why?
I didn’t have a stand-out. I was a bit of a tearaway during my school years. It wasn’t until I left school to do my A Levels at college that I took my education more seriously. I went on to do a degree in English Literature and an MBA at Nottingham Business School.

How did school inspire your career?
It wasn’t until I went to university that I started seriously thinking about a career. I got lucky with my first graduate job (at the British Horological Institute) as my employer was a great mentor and suggested I enrol on an MBA course. This brought me to London, which totally changed the course of my life and career when I was offered a job at a start-up software company. After 10 years working for niche IT and finance companies in the City, I launched Pullman Editions (Art Deco poster gallery) in Chelsea in 2010.



Dav Sehra
Founder, Acre & Row

Which schools did you attend?
Chatsworth Junior in West London, before moving to Bedford and attending Mark Rutherford Upper School.

Earliest school memory?
Playing football at break times – playing with a sponge ball and pretending to be Dennis Bergkamp.

What was your favourite subject and why?
English Lit/Language. I think I really enjoyed dissecting a piece of literature and knowing there wasn't a right or wrong answer as long as you gave a convincing argument. Even now within tailoring it ha  been helpful in being able to articulate a point as everything we do is very subjective.

Who was your favourite teacher and why?
Mrs James who taught English Lit/Language. She was extremely patient with all students and made us feel we were capable of achieving beyond our own expectations.

How did school inspire your career?
I don't think school inspired my career, but I definitely look back at some of my fashion faux pas that's for sure!

Most important lesson you took away?
Don't leave things to the last minute. It is something I learnt during my A-Levels, which led to good results. I know that seems pretty basic, but those practices really do help later on in the real world when you just need to get tasks done, especially now I am running a business.

Clifford House, 15 Clifford St