Inspirational Alumni


Captain Lucy Knowles Vollentine (Cornwallis 1993)'s Virtual Assembly message to RHS pupils.

"Be it professional or vocational, arts or sports – whatever you want to do, as long as you are adding value to the world, it is the right thing to do. If you are adding value in some way small or large, obvious or discreet, you will enjoy it. This difficult time will pass. So be brave, be adventurous – use the skills you are gaining at the School and have an amazing time"

The founding mission of the School is to 'improve navigation'. Certainly there has been a lot of debate about what this means in the 21st century. One thing is for sure, our alumni take this mission and the values of service and loyalty out into the world.

Over the last sixth months RHS alumni have used their resilience and leadership against COVID-19. It has been inspiring to see the difference RHS alumni are making at the current time. From serving the front line to unique business insights and solutions, fundraising for the NHS to inspiring our pupils at a time of great uncertainty.

The image above is by no means a full picture of all the RHS communities' efforts (and we've love to hear from more female alumni). But this snap shot of a community motivated to help others includes (left to right):

  • Captain Lucy Knowles Vollentine (Cornwallis 1993) gave pupils a very positive virtual assembly message about resilience and adding value to the world.
  • Bob Clarke (Raleigh 1968), a global authority on business continuity and pandemics has played a significant role in helping businesses confront and adapt to the crisis.
  • Neil Williams (Drake 1998) is an intensive care nurse and gave pupils an insight into the front line with a virtual assembly from Greenwich and Lewisham NHS Trust.
  • After receiving a lockdown 'Letter Home' from a pupil Ray Poingdestre (Drake 1939), who joined the School in 1936, went 'virtually' back to School joining an MS Teams class which was magical for all involved and literally took our pupils back to the start of Holbrook.
  • Zac (Hawke 2019) and Olivia (Anson 2014-2019) Frankham with help from mum Aimee (Cornwallis 1995) made a big difference as a Scrub Hub – with just the small matter of Zac also completing his Officer Training for the Royal Navy (well done Zac!).
  • We've come to expect the Beaton Family to be on the front line and it was inspiring to see Cameron (Collingwood 2011), Angus (Collingwood 2013), Monty (Collingwood 2012) along with dad Kevin (Collingwood 1979) working the wards at the Mid Essex Hospital Trust. It was also nice for one of our pupils to be able to send Terry (Collingwood 1949), grandfather to the boys a lockdown 'Letter Home'.
  • Issy Williams (Hood 2016) sold hand-drawn calligraphy pieces to raise money for cancer treatment which was cancelled by the NHS due to COVID-19. Issy has also helped the Class of 2020 by becoming an RHS University Ambassador for Bristol and SOAS Universities.
  • The final image is of Consultant Anaesthetist Richard Cantelo's (Collingwood 1981) team about to start a 12 hour shift.
The list goes on...

Emma Tarling (Howe 2004), Innovation Consultant at BT Technology, amazing efforts with Adastral Park research partners producing 3,000 visors a week; the RHSA NHS rugby shirt fundraiser; the testing lab of Professor Alan Thornhill (Hawke 1986); the work done by Andrew Shepherd (Anson 1997) and CEO of Mid Group at Newham University Hospital creating additional intensive care bed spaces; and the inspiring streaming for the NATO community in Naples given by Naval Principal Medical Officer, Dr. Iain Wood (Hawke 1998), when COVID-19 reached them in February.


RHS Alumni Virtual Assembly Messages

During Lockdown our pupils also received a series of virtual Assembly messages from alumni including Jon Courtenay (Blake 1991), Comedian and Musician, Lucy Knowles Vollentine (Cornwallis 1993), former Navy Captain and now with the British Red Cross, Tom Woolf (Hawke 1998), CEO Ed Aid, Robert Green (Collingwood 1946), VE Day message and song, Brandon Hylton (Collingwood 2018), now serving with the Metropolitan Police and a strong advocate of bursaries at RHS.

The messages gave our pupils, who were all learning remotely across the world, a strong sense of the difference an RHS education can make, and of the value of resilience and personal development in tough times.

A particularly poignant message came from Neil Williams (Drake 1988), Intensive Care Nurse, Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust – who reached out to RHS pupils from the front line at the height of the pandemic.


Over 10,000 pupils have come to Holbrook since our move from Greenwich in 1933. Our alumni are all threads in a great tapestry. They can tell the next generation the story of an entrepreneurial seafaring nation and inspire, no matter what life throws at them, resilience to 'improve navigation' in the world.

Thank you RHSA for inspiring our pupils during this difficult time.