Ben Blackwood moved to Wellington College Shanghai from Redland High School for Girls, a leading independent girl’s school in Bristol, where he has been the Bursar for eight years. Ben first became a bursar after completing a 26-year career as an officer in the British Army.
After completing his A-levels at Welbeck College, he chose to go to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, rather than university. On completion of his training he was commissioned in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, and proceeded to serve in many parts of the world, including Germany, the Gulf, the Balkans and the Falkland Islands. One of the highlights of his career was being selected for training as an Ammunition Technical Officer, including bomb disposal. Towards the end of his service he completed a Master’s Degree in Engineering Business Management at the University of Warwick.
Ben has always been interested in most sports and was privileged to be selected to play hockey for the Ordnance Corps, as a goalkeeper. His main sport now is cycling and he has undertaken a number of challenging rides. He is married to Fiona and they have two children, Victoria and Thomas, who are also at Wellington.
Ben says of coming to Wellington: “I have thoroughly enjoyed the role of bursar, so much so that I always knew that if I ever left my current school, it would have to be to go somewhere very special. Wellington College, Shanghai, definitely meets that criteria and I was absolutely delighted to receive a phone call from David Cook one Saturday morning informing me that I was to be appointed as the first Bursar.
“When I retired from the army, I sought a new challenge in becoming a bursar. To some people these two roles may seem quite a contrast, but actually it is a well trodden path, as nearly one third of independent school bursars have served in the British armed forces. The title ‘bursar’ is synonymous with British independent schools and universities and derives from the mediaeval Latin bursarius, which means “keeper of the purse”. Whilst managing the school’s finances is a key function of the job, it encompasses so much more, including management of the estate and services to ensure a healthy and safe environment, the management of the administration, in fact providing the leadership for all of the non-teaching functions within the school. My aim has always been to lead an excellent team which provides all the support that the Master and his teachers require to provide an outstanding education to all our children. I believe the key to this is establishing good working relationships with everyone connected with the school, including staff, parents, governors and contractors to gain an understanding of what they really need.
“Part of my selection process included a visit to Wellington College UK and, on driving through the main gates, I was immediately aware that I was entering something very special. There is a great deal more to a school than its teachers, pupils, staff and buildings, vital thought they are. Great schools have a culture of excellence that has to be developed and shared by the whole community. I am very excited at having the opportunity to be part of the team that will be establishing the true ethos of Wellington at Shanghai and establish our school as the leading international school in China.”
Lydia is the bursar of Wellington College Shanghai, responsible for overseeing operations, services and purchasing. Before joining us, she spent four years in the same capacity in Beijing City International School, which accommodates both foreign and Chinese pupils.
Lydia also has extensive experience in the accounting industry, where she was attached to several international firms, including Arthur Andersen and KPMG. During this time, she led various financial projects in real estate, resorts and service related industries, assurance and advisory business for multi-national organisations and public listed companies.
Lydia is a chartered accountant, a fellow member of the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA), an experienced member of the Malaysian Institute of Accountants and the Malaysian Institute of Certified Public Accountants. She also completed an MBA from Oxford Brookes University.
Andrew joined Wellington College International Shanghai from Stowe School, an independent school in the UK. There, he was head of operations and enjoyed the beautiful and inspiring environment, a ducal palace set within 750 acres of landscaped gardens. Prior to this position he was head of logistics for a large international food company based in Northampton.
Andrew served as an engineering officer in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) corps, deploying all over the world. His long and distinguished career has seen him complete nine operational tours including Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, working as part of the UN, NATO and British Forces.
Andrew was educated at Woodridge College, Port Elizabeth, South Africa and d’Overbroeck’s College, Oxford. He is an active person who enjoys spending his time outdoors, playing sport and travelling. Along with his wife Fiona and twin sons, Oliver and Finlay, they are excited about the opportunities to travel and explore China.
Rachel joined Wellington Shanghai when it opened in 2014 and has been welcoming new families to the school ever since. She gets involved in many aspects of helping a family settle into school life and the Wellington community in Shanghai. If she does not have the answer to a question about Wellington or living in Shanghai, she will know somebody who does!
Before working in education, Rachel was a corporate lawyer working in the UK and the Middle East. Moving to Shanghai presented the opportunity to pursue what she feels is a more meaningful career in education, and she feels privileged to work with young people.
In her spare time, Rachel likes to keep fit and healthy whether it be exploring parts of China on her road bike or enjoying leisurely walks with her dog to explore the fascinating lane life and history that Shanghai has to offer.
Kaori Brooke-Smith is from Tokyo, Japan. After graduating from university, she worked as an assistant to a project manager at a foreign IT company in Tokyo. Kaori then worked as an admissions officer for British international School Hanoi in Vietnam. She loves helping new families settle into a new school. She passionately believes in the importance of her role as the bridge between students, teachers, and parents.
Kaori graduated from Eastern Oklahoma State College, USA and is currently studying to receive a postgraduate certificate in Teaching Japanese as a Foreign Language at the Institute of International Education in London.
In her spare time, she enjoys playing tennis, snowboarding, reading and getting involved with the school community.