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My time at Manchester High School for Girls was a period of unmitigated happiness from start to finish. It was completely joyous.
Vicky is Chief Communications Officer for Manchester City Football Group. She leads media relations for the Club here at home, as well as the business’ operations with New York City FC and Melbourne Football Club.
The culture of academic excellence at Manchester High is met equally with warmth and humanity. My youngest daughter is a pupil in the Preparatory Department and her classroom sits just under what was my Upper Third form room. When I turn onto Grangethorpe Road in the morning to drop her off, I always look up to see it and am instantly filled with feelings of warmth and pleasure. There is something incredibly special, something indefinable about this school.
I must have read too many Enid Blyton books in my formative years, as one day I declared to my parents that when the time came I wouldn’t be going to the local comprehensive but instead wanted to go to an all-girls school. Growing up where I did, meant that independent education wasn’t really the norm. I remember we found out about Manchester High’s existence literally by searching the Yellow Pages.
Without bursary assistance, I would never have been a Manchester High girl. The fees would have been beyond the reach of my parents’ modest income.
Without my bursary funding I would never have walked into Miss Tong’s Latin class and been set on a life-changing path.
11 year old Vicky had never heard of Latin. I didn’t even know what Classics was. Yet within two minutes of being in Miss Tong’s presence I was besotted with her and the language. She was not necessarily the most ‘cuddly’ of teachers, in some respects she could appear at times rather formidable – something of a slightly eccentric academic, but she had a twinkle in her eye to match her incredible brain and she imbued in me a love of language that has stayed with me to this day.
It was Miss Tong who took me to one side in my later years at Manchester High and told me she thought I could study for a degree at Oxbridge. Again, in my naivety I genuinely didn’t really know at that time what a degree was, and I certainly had doubts that Oxford or Cambridge would be the right place for me. It was the ‘80s and the popular press was flooded with images of the ‘Hooray Henrys and Henriettas’ that attended these beacons of academia. They certainly didn’t seem a natural fit for me.
Miss Tong was however, resolute. She gained permission from my parents and drove me to Cambridge one Saturday morning. I, of course, loved it and was thrilled to secure my place to study Latin and French in 1989. Miss Tong is sadly no longer with us and it is one of my biggest regrets in life that I did not tell her that she, and Manchester High, altered the course of my life immeasurably. Hopefully, this goes some way in recognising that.
A Manchester High bursary will change a girl’s life by enabling her. It puts her on a course, a road, to potentially do something extraordinary. Without everything a school like this has to offer, there are girls out there whose potential will always lie dormant, and that is a great shame both for her and for the people whose life she, in turn, may be able to affect.