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Testimonies from Old Merchant Taylors'

The School poet, Sir Edmund Spenser (OMT)

Letter to Sir Walter Raleigh, 23rd January, 1589

“The generall end is to fashion a gentleman in vertuous and gentle discipline”

Sir Geoffrey Holland, OMT, formerly Vice-Chancellor of Exeter University, Chairman of Governors, Merchant Taylors’ School, 2002-2011

“What is unique about a Merchant Taylors’ education? Discovering those big open spaces of the mind, taking pleasure in the continued exploration of those spaces, and rejoicing in the excitement of learning and enlightenment”

Some members of the class of 2011 write in detail of their time at Merchant Taylors’

Christopher Colman OMT, 2006-11, read History at University College, Oxford

“What do you want to know about any prospective school? I can tell you that Merchant Taylors’ is a good school. I can tell you that the food is good and the results are too. The teaching staff is highly qualified and we have very good facilities. This, however, is totally and utterly irrelevant besides that which really makes this place a truly remarkable school. I have done many things in five years here; I have travelled from Pompeii to Hanoi via Death Valley! I have danced, ridden, swum, fenced and acted at this school; I have had the opportunity to do more in five years than most people manage in a lifetime. Any MTS boy could say than the travelling, singing and dancing are the friends I have made. Looking back, I have only spent five years here. However, in those five years I have made the greatest friends I have ever known as we trekked through the Atlas Mountains and played rugby in the foothills of the Andes.

And all the while we have been there supporting each other. These friendships will never fade. I recently attended an event that was also attended by Old Merchant Taylors of all ages. The care and loyalty they show to each other is no different to and no less fierce than that which I feel for my friends. Anyone can make friends here and it is important that they do so, since secondary school is an important time: boys go in - men come out. You too, can pack a suitcase for a place you’ve never been. I owe a huge thank you to the current young men who are my friends, for all they have done for me. It is not just my friends but also my teachers to whom I owe thanks, who through their passion for their arts, have made us into what we are and given us the best possible start. Such is my love of this place and the time I have spent here, that I would, without a backward glance, give up all I have done so far, all my exam results, all my achievements and memories, just to go back to the first day of Fourth Form and do it all over again. ‘Concordia Parvae Res Crescunt’- small things grow in harmony - how very prophetic!”

Thomas Minihan OMT, 2006-11, read European Studies at Cardiff University, Scholar of the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst 2010

“As I leave Merchant Taylors’ I find myself heading into a world that is brimming with opportunity and excitement and I cannot help but look back on my time here and consider with real sentiment the wonderful way in which Taylors has put these fantastic opportunities before us all. I am going on to do European Studies at Cardiff University and the passion I have for world affairs and global culture is one that was both inspired and compounded by my time here. The chance of a lifetime came when I travelled to Vietnam with the History Department in 2010.

It is fair to say that at any school of this kind, one would find such pleasures and opportunities in abundance. But it has been only at Taylors’ that I have found just a little more, both in terms of friendship, and memories that will last me a lifetime. I know that when I look back on my years here they will have been amongst the happiest of my life and ones that will serve me well into the future”.

Tom Jervis OMT, 2004-11, Captain of Rugby, read Geography at Nottingham University

“My seven years at MTS have been thoroughly enjoyable, diverse and life changing. The academic environment has combined with all the sports, activities and travel to make me a more complete person today. The single aspect of the school that has really influenced me from when I was a small third former and helped me develop into the more confident - and hopefully mature - young man that I am today is sport. Sport has transformed me from a quiet, timid Third Former to a more self-reliant person and that has helped me in all aspects of my life.

I have represented the school in rugby and hockey and ended up being able to play three years of first team rugby, captaining the side in my final year. I enjoyed two years of first team hockey. Without MTS, I would never have had the opportunity to pursue my sporting interests and would certainly be worse off as a result. I thank the school for blessing me with such unique opportunities.

A turning point in my life was the rugby tour to South America in 2009, which was simply unforgettable. Those three weeks will stay with me forever. MTS always taught me the value of teamwork, yet, exposing me to large foreign cities and host families, also taught me to be independent and self-reliant. It helped me find friendships and live new experiences. My Third Form days seem like a long time ago now and the skills and experiences I have gained through sport at MTS have changed my life”.

Toby Mann OMT, 2004-11, read English Literature at Somerville College, Oxford

“At MTS I’ve developed new interests from the host of opportunities. I’ve played rugby, hockey, football and squash, (admittedly to varying levels, but I’ve really enjoyed it!). I’ve found somewhere to meet others from my religion and discuss my faith in the Jewish Society. I gave back to the community through the school’s Phab camp for disabled teenagers. MTS isn’t just about new things. You can develop the interests you bring with you. I always enjoyed painting and found myself spending large parts of my day in the Art department working on my projects and discussing my work and that of my friends - not to mention more famous artists and their ways of seeing. The teachers arrange gallery visits to New York, but they also keep the studios open on Saturdays and late after school. I seized the chance they gave me when they offered me a solo exhibition space and tried a really ambitious (6m x 1.5m) painting. My teachers weaned me off teenage sci-fi and fantasy and I began to engage with classic and contemporary literature. It wasn’t just that they helped me ‘appreciate’ good writing; they ignited a passion for it in me. Theatre trips and seminars have enriched my personal reading, covering not only the A level syllabus, but reaching beyond it so that I discovered interests that are more personal. It’s largely down to the stimulation the teachers have given me that I find myself lucky enough to be going up to Oxford to read English”. 

Daniel Harrison OMT, 2004-11, Arkwright Scholar, read Civil Engineering at Cardiff University

“The main reason that I have enjoyed Merchant Taylors’ so much is the fantastic scope it offers to all students to explore their creativity and individuality: to develop their talent and expertise. This has been particularly true for me working in the Design and Technology Department, where the small classes, very personal tuition and in-depth knowledge of the teachers have helped me enormously. I am proud to have been one of the MTS Arkwright Scholars. I have also really enjoyed the sport: especially, the golf, tennis and sailing. As a Sixth Former, was really proud to represent the school in first XI soccer for the whole season. I feel we all gained in strength and self-awareness from the tutor system. The pastoral care offered by the school will stand me in good stead personally for the rest of my life. There have been so many memorable moments, not least the trip to the Atlas mountains of Morocco as part of my Duke of Edinburgh's Gold Award. This was a real test of my physical stamina and emotional endurance, and it also gave me an incredible opportunity to meet people from an entirely different culture. It enriched me as a person and made me appreciate how lucky I am. I feel privileged to have been educated at Merchant Taylors’ and am proud that I will be an OMT for the rest of my life.”

Josh Kaye OMT, 2004-11, read History and Ancient History at Durham University

“Merchant Taylors’ for me has always been more than a school: it’s a community – a bubble of 850 boys where everyone knows everyone. The school has nurtured my growth and development and given me endless opportunities to do things I would never otherwise have seen myself doing. It has helped me reach beyond the limits that were prescribed for me at primary school. The pupils and teachers enjoy a sense of camaraderie. Drama, sport, the intimate class environment and the distinct tutor system all help with this. Only three weeks into my school career I approached my tutor about something as banal as my lost pencil case and was met with the same sincerity and diligence as I was seven years later when I needed university advice; the teachers have always ventured outside the timetable for that extra snippet of tuition or to ease any anxieties.

Phab Week for me was life changing. To have the responsibility at sixteen of caring for a disabled teenager’s every need re-orientated my whole perspective on life and has since propelled me into regular volunteer work. The memory I treasure most was seeing the guests discard their disabilities and fly aeroplanes, with me, the pure pupil, in a frenzied state in the back. As a prospective History student, there is no place better than Taylors’. The site itself is steeped in history and the school itself is part of 450 years of tradition that it still harnesses and encourages the pupils to appreciate daily. It has been a privilege to be a part of that. The boy seen smiling on the cover of the prospectus in 2005 is still smiling to this day”.

Here are some additional testimonials

Vincent Smith (1956-1962)

I was at MTS from 1956 to 1962. I fondly remember the teachers, especially Tony Eggleston, who taught us Chemistry and Physics with his characteristic enthusiasm. This enthusiasm must have rubbed off on me, because although I went up to Oxford to read Mathematics, I rapidly changed to Physics and went on to make it my career as an academic, transferring to Bristol for my PhD from where I retired as Reader in Physics in 2011.

Tariq Attia (2003-2008)

The time I spent at Merchant Taylors’ was fantastic; in the five years I was there I gained a solid education, a good group of friends and since leaving have really felt the benefit. The alumni network is one of the strongest around, and I am constantly encountering OMTs or indeed seeing the benefit of being an OMT in my career. The support they give to students, both past and present, is unrivalled.

Nick Hemming-Brown (2003-2008)

The memories of my time at Merchant Taylors’ are most succinctly expressed through the great numbers of friendships which I have maintained with my peers over the years since leaving the school. These friendships have taken me all over the world and enabled me to experience a huge variety of cultures. The great number of lifelong friendships which are forged is something which I believe is a particular strength of Merchant Taylors’, and something which sets it above so many other schools. These relationships aren’t just born as a result of proximity; they are the result of the huge range of opportunities that enable anyone to cultivate passions and to connect with like-minded individuals.

Rushab Shah (2008-2013)

Merchant Taylors' provided me with a truly all-round school experience which prepared me for the real world more than I could have ever imagined. The staff all worked incredibly hard to support any of my endeavours be it on the rugby pitch at weekends, at break times working on Amnesty International campaigns or helping with an ambitious Design and Technology project late in the evening. The education I received at Merchant Taylors' has undoubtedly helped me thrive at university.

Samay Shah (2008-2015)

I am truly grateful for the opportunities offered to me at MTS. Both in and out of the classroom, they have developed me as an individual. The friendships I made there are lifelong and I am proud to be an OMT.

Nick Finney (2007-2012)

My five years at Merchant Taylors’ was not merely an education but a lifestyle. Beyond the knowledge attained in the classroom, my school career was permeated by the development of strong principles, the nurturing of natural curiosity and an insatiable drive to succeed in my own goals. My tutors not only challenged me to grow, but invited me to enjoy doing so.

Whether on top of the Great Wall of China, or at the bottom of a muddy ruck, Merchant Taylors’ always instilled in me a great sense of community; where one learns not only challenge and push each other, but to respect and care in equal portion. This school made it their mission to squeeze the best out of me, and in return I felt honoured to give my best back.