Former Students

Alexander Fury - Fashion Journalist, Author and Critic / Fashion editor of the Independent Newspaper

Alexander Fury is a fashion journalist, author and critic. He is fashion editor of The Independent, i and The Independent on Sunday newspapers and was awarded the inaugural Editorial Intelligence Award for Fashion Commentator of the Year in 2014. He was named one of InStyle magazine’s 20 most powerful people in fashion for 2015.

Alex was editor of the Conde Nast biannual magazine LOVE from 2012-2013. Prior to this, he held the position of fashion director at, the fashion website of the image-maker Nick Knight, from 2008-2012.

Following his foundation in art at Manchester Metropolitan University, Alex studied Fashion History and Theory at Central Saint Martins in London.

Alex has contributed as a journalist to a number of publications including GQ, Esquire, Fantastic Man, 10 and 10Men magazine, ELLE and various international editions of Vogue. His writing was included in the catalogue to accompany the 2015 Victoria and Albert museum exhibition Savage Beauty, charting the career of Alexander McQueen.

Alex consults for various brands and individuals including the BBC and designer Mary Katrantzou. He also sits on the British Fashion Council's NEWGEN panel.

Chris Lunt - Writer

Chris left Rivington and Blackrod High School in 1987; he spent his early working life as an engineering apprentice and later became the world’s worst lathe turner. In his mid-twenties he realised a lifelong ambition and joined the world of television, he eventually became a cameraman, and worked on several series of TWO’S COUNTRY for the Discovery Channel. Chris started writing in 2000, eventually turning professional through redundancy in 2010. His debut series, PREY, was broadcast in April and May of 2014. Starring John Simm it was critically well received and went on to be nominated for numerous RTS and BAFTA Awards. Chris himself was nominated for two BAFTA awards, Breakthrough Talent and Best Mini-Series. He was also named a 2014 BAFTA Breakthrough Brit. Chris is currently writing a second series of PREY, this one starring Philip Glennister, he is also working on numerous other television projects and films. Chris is very proud of being a former student at Rivington and Blackrod High School.  Chris has done a number of interviews, one of which can be found here.

Simon Trinder - Actor

Simon left Rivington and Blackrod High School in 1994 and trained as an actor at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Upon graduation he won the BBC Carlton Hobbs Award becoming a member of the BBC Radio Rep Company where he has appeared in over 60 plays for BBC Radio 4 and the World Service. Since then he has worked continuously in mainstream Theatre including the RSC, Shakespeare’s Globe, Royal Court, Birmingham Rep, Barbican, Young Vic, Bristol Old Vic, Chichester Festival Theatre, Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre, Soho Theatre and Hampstead Theatre.

Simon was the very first actor to play Puck at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in Mike Alfred’s acclaimed 2002 production of ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’, which led to an appearance as Puck in the BBC’s ‘In Search of Shakespeare’ documentary. This led to his first season at the Royal Shakespeare Company where he has appeared in 14 productions in Stratford Upon Avon, America, Madrid and the West End over the last 11 years.

During his time with the Company he won the Clarence Derwent Award (best supporting Actor on the British stage) for his role in ‘The Taming of The Shrew’ and was nominated for the Helen Hayes award in the USA for the same production. He was also nominated for the West End’s Evening Standard Award for his role in the RSC’s award winning ‘House of Desires’. Having appeared alongside Dame Judi Dench and Simon Callow in ‘ Merry Wives the Musical’ Simon was honoured to be one of 30 actors chosen to perform a speech at the closing of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, that company included Sir Ian Mckellen, Patrick Stewart, Sir Antony Sher and Dame Judi Dench.He later reopened the brand new £115,000,000 Theatre playing Ariel to Antony Sher’s Prospero.

Simon spent 4 months in Hamburg playing Puck in Benjamin Britten’s Midsummer Nights Dream at The Hamburg State Opera under world renowned conductor Simone Young.

After playing Caliban to Pete Postlethwaite’s Prospero at the Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre Simon moved into Television and Film appearing on the BBC and ITV in ‘Holby City’, ‘Dalziel and Pascoe’ and ‘The Children’. His film work includes Anton Chekov’s ‘The Duel’, horror flick ‘The Dark Half’ and he starred in a prime time drama for ITV with Anna Friel called ‘Without you’. Simon also appeared in the BBC film of ‘Richard The Second’ produced by Sam Mendes, directed by Rupert Goold and starring David Suchet, Patrick Stewart and Ben Whishaw.

From April 2015, Simon is delighted to be playing the regular role of DI Bliss opposite David Threlfall and Anna Maxwell Martin in ITV ‘s brand new serialization of the hugely popular Merrily Watkins mysteries by Phil Rickman. The series is adapted from his novel ‘Midwinter Of The Spirit’.

Stephen Speak - Author

Stephen J. Speak was born in Bolton, England in 1971. He was brought up in the village of Blackrod, which is on the outskirts of Bolton, Lancashire. His family have a rich background of cricket within the village, which naturally dictated that he follow this path too. He played and performed to a good level as a junior at Blackrod Cricket Club, whilst also captaining the school team and becoming Head Boy at nearby Rivington and Blackrod High School.

These performances lead to him being selected for numerous junior county representative teams, and eventually into the Lancashire Second XI. A big future beckoned, as Stephen also became the club professional at Saddleworth near to Oldham. During this time, his appetite for travel and culture was awakened. He travelled to Australia for a winter on the Sunshine Coast to play cricket for Yandina and develop his game further. On his return, a stint at university in Cardiff led to a chance meeting with Christine, who was an American exchange student. He studied for a degree in Sport and Human Movement before making a huge decision that would impact on his life and his cricket.

Stephen took a chance and left for a new adventure in California to marry Christine and experience life in the land of opportunity. Very quickly he discovered that there was a thriving cricket underworld that he could contribute to in a big way. Cricket has remained as a central theme; however there have been a wide range of experiences in jobs such as a PE teacher and coach. He graduated to the national team and many of his tales are retold within these pages. Along the way a son, Nefyn was born and he has played a major role in Stephen’s recent life. This has lead to them moving north to Idaho, not exactly renowned for its cricket, but it has allowed him to reflect over some wonderful experiences in the game.

Stephen has recently written a wide range of books, yet this is his most ambitious so far and is his first foray into telling his own cricketing story.

Jessica Baglow - Actress

Jessica attended Rivington and Blackrod High School and London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and is now a British Actress. Her first role was in the British television drama 'Where the Heart is' as Lucy Snow. Her most notable TV role is that of pupil Karla Bentham in the BBC drama Waterloo Road. The Bentham character has Aspergers Syndrome; she began playing Bentham in September 2007. In addition to her role on Waterloo Road, Jessica has also played the recurring role of Emma Fairbank in Emmerdale, Holby City, Moving On2, Skies of Glass, Doctors, New Street Law, Sorted, The Street. In April 2009 she also had a guest role in an episode of BBC daytime soap Doctors. Jessica appeared in 'Long Day’s Journey Into Night'  in 2013 at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton, Hobson's Choice, Twelfth Night and Early One Morning.

Joanna Higson - Actress

Joanna's first television role came on 22 January 2007 when she appeared in an episode of The Afternoon Play on BBC One entitled, Johnny Shakespeare. She also appeared in the pilot episode of Scallwagga when the series was titled Spacehopper. She played Amy Osbourne in Cold Blood in June 2007 and also in Cold Blood 5: The Last Hurrah on 3 January 2008. 

On 13 December 2007 she appeared in an episode of the BBC Television series, The Street. From April to June 2008, Joanna appeared in the comedy sketch show series Scallywagga on BBC 3. She played a number of lead characters including the role of "Greggs Girl". In January 2009 she appeared as the new regular character of Maxine Donnelly in the sixth series of Shameless.

Andy Buchan - Actor

On the stage he has appeared as Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester (2005). In 2008, he appeared in Arthur Miller's 'The Man' who had all the Luck at the Donmar. The play ran for six weeks in London, before going on a short UK tour. Andrew received the Manchester Evening News Theatre Award for Best Actor in a touring production.

His career in television began in 2006 when he appeared as the vicar, St John Rivers, in the 2006 Jane Eyre and then as the regular character Scott Foster in the political satire Party Animals. In 2007, he appeared as Jem Hearne in the award winning Cranford in a cast that included Judi Dench, Imelda Staunton and Eileen Atkins. Also in 2007, he appeared as the teacher 'Sean Knowles', in ITV's The Whistleblowers. In 2008, he appeared in Season 4, Episode 1 of Bones as Dr. Ian Wexler. In 2008 and 2009, he starred in the ITV drama - The Fixer as the lead role John Mercer, a paid assassin targeting people who have escaped the law. The first season of The Fixer received a Royal Television Society award for Best Series. In 2009, he appeared as Fishwick in the John Lennon biopic Nowhere Boy acting opposite Kristin Scott Thomas, and directed by Sam Taylor-Wood.

In the BBC's four-part drama Garrow's Law he starred in the leading role as William Garrow, which started on BBC One on 1 November 2009. In December 2009, he appeared again as the carpenter Jem Hearne in the BBC's two-part Cranford Christmas Special. In 2010, Andrew Buchan appeared as journalist and love interest Billy Marshall in the made-for-TV movie Abroad, based in part on the true-life experiences of Toronto' Globe and Mail Columnist and author, Leah McLaren.

Jennifer Hester - Completing PhD in Nutrition and Obesity

We are delighted to report the success of former Rivington and Blackrod Student and Head Girl, Jennifer Hester. Since starting here in 1993, Jenny, a committed and dedicated sportswoman, had ambitions of becoming a P. E. teacher. Embarking upon a Sport and Exercise Science degree at Leeds Metropolitan University, Jenny became interested in nutrition and childhood obesity and the work of Professor Paul Gately. This led to summer volunteer work with the Carnegie Weight Management Team. Jenny worked on the weekend clinic programmes, throughout the country. Jenny’s interest in nutrition, obesity and working with children branched into lecturing on the subject at Leeds Trinity and she is in the process of completing her PhD. Jenny is working on the project ‘Mend’, (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition …..Do it!), in Melbourne Australia.

Mike Watkinson - Former English Cricketer

Mike Watkinson is a former English Cricketer who played four Test Matches and one One Day International in the mid-1990s. A right-handed batsman and a right-arm bowler of either medium-pace or off-spin, he was instrumental in Lancashire's successes in the 1990s, and is now the county's cricket manager.

He showed early promise as an all-round sportsman, excelling in both cricket and football, and achieving good standards in golf and basketball. He demonstrated that good hand, ball and eye co-ordination can be applied to many sports, and thus it is no surprise that he was able to make his living through sport.

Watkinson attended Westhoughton County Primary School, and then Rivington & Blackrod Grammar School (later R & B High). During this time he was a regular player at Westhoughton Cricket Club in the Bolton Cricket League, where he drew attention from Teddy Gerrard, a coach at the club.

It was from these beginnings and following great cricketing predecessors in the club (four of the Tyldesley family made the ground staff at Old Trafford, with Dick Tyldesley reaching International level with England) that Watkinson emulated the local heroes, playing for Lancashire and England. He has taken the position of Club Manager for Lancashire, and no longer plays professional cricket.

Christopher Rosslowe - Doctor of Philosophy

We were delighted to hear of the success of former student Christopher Rosslowe - Student at Rivington and Blackrod High School 2000 - 2007. Christopher was featured in our Excel magazine - Autumn 2000 as he was chosen as a young scientist, to visit Buckingham Palace.

He left Rivington and Blackrod High School in 2007 for the University of Nottingham, achieving a first in Physics with Astronomy and his Masters. In October 2015, Christopher was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy by the University of Sheffield. He earned his doctorate from the department of Physics and Astronomy. His thesis was entitled "Spatial distribution of Galactic Wolf-Rayet stars and implications for the global population". Well done to Chris, we are very proud and what an amazing success story!

Ben Southern and Jac McVean - Ski Instructors

They completed 'A' Levels in the Sixth Form at Rivington and Blackrod High School in 2009 and during their school career developed a passion for skiing and were regular skiers on school trips to Le Corbier, France and with their families. Following the completion of their education both Ben and Jac successfully applied to Ski Le Gap, a Canadian based company specialising in the training of potential ski instructors.

In January 2010, they travelled to Canada and spent three months training. In April 2010 they were awarded their Level 2 Instructors qualification and Jac gained his Race Coaching Qualification.

Luke Rogers

Luke left Rivington and Blackrod High School in 2003, and took a vocational direction by studying a BTEC National Diploma in ICT. This allowed him to use practical skills to further develop a small local business he had started at the age of 15 which provided IT support and also specialised in custom PC retail. This was a business which he later expanded into e-commerce and web design and by 2005 the business was turning over in excess of £200,000 per year.  He attained (AAA / Distinction) within his BTEC and decided to use the opportunity to move to Reading University and study in a new field, Artificial Intelligence & Cybernetics.  He sold the business and began his studies in Reading in 2008.

In 2008, Luke started a position with Cisco Systems in 2008 based in Amsterdam as a graduate sales associate, then promoted to a UK based sales account manager in 2009 and promoted once more in 2010 to a sales specialist. He took up a senior sales position with IBM at the age of 24 and spent 18 months defining a new sales strategy for an IBM services division. The strategy was executed flawlessly and now at the age of 25 he is about to begin a role as UK sales manager for another company, AppDynamics.   Luke lives in a Riverside Apartment in Battersea, London.  He professes to driving a nice car and has a great group of friends in London and continues to work hard and play harder than ever, travelling the world in his spare time making every moment of life.  He tells us that the foundation of his success was five years of hard work at Rivington and Blackrod High School.

Sue Hunt - Teacher

Sue Hunt is Director of Mathematics at Rivington and Blackrod High School.  She was Head Girl and very successful gained a 1st class degree from Loughborough University. She trained to teach Maths and Physical Education then applied and was appointed to a very good job in accountancy, reverting back to teaching at Rivington & Blackrod High School. Sue is also a gifted sports person representing the school in all sports and played at County and Regional level in Hockey.

Leesa Haydock - Preston North End Women's Football Team

Leesa studied A Levels in Economics, PE and Maths and then secured a place at Cambridge University. When Leesa isn't studying she plays for Preston North End Women's Football Team in the F.A. WOMEN'S PREMIER LEAGUE NORTHERN DIVISION. Her abilities on the pitch have been spotted by Universities in America and Leesa is investigating the possibility of attending an East Coast University on a scholarship scheme.

Debbie Green

Former student Debbie Green graduated from Liverpool John Moores University with a 1st Class Honours Degree in Business Studies. Following this success, and with the support from her tutor, Alex Douglas, her Dissertation has been selected to feature in the prestigious ‘World Conference for Quality and Improvement’ in May 2010. The Dissertation was based on her placement which she completed at The Roberts Partnership who also showed her great support through her final year. Debbie fully enjoyed her time at university, making lifelong friends.  

Since graduating, Debbie has made an excellent start in her career.  She is now a Business Improvement Manager for F&P Wholesale, which is a part of the FTSE 100 company Travis Perkins.  The role is based around profit enhancing and cost reduction projects and is a key part of the strategic development for the company.  She works closely with the directors and is responsible for driving key initiatives forward within the business at all levels, putting the skills and theories which she learnt at university to use on a daily basis.

Rebecca Trist - Rugby Player

Rebecca Trist, a former Rivington and Blackrod High School Student who left in July 2011 following her GCSE's, has been accepted at Moulton College on an AASE (Advanced Apprenticeship in Sports Excellence) in Rugby. She was selected to represent England in the under 20's Women's Rugby squad in the Nations Cup against South Africa, the USA and Canada.

Rebecca is now at University of Gloucestershire studying Sports Strength & Conditioning. She plays rugby for Worcester Ladies, Uni and England U20s. The University reached the final of the Bucs league and played Cardiff Met in the final at Twickenham. This is her last year for U20s but she hopes to trial for the Elite squad!