Notable OGs

Business and Politics

Sir Harold Atcherley - attended Gresham's from 1932 - 1935 (Woodlands)

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Sir Harold was an executive with Royal Dutch Shell.  He served on many public bodies, including the Armed ForcesPay Review Body and the Police Negotiating Board, of both of which he was Chairman.  He was also Chairman of the Aldeburgh Festival.  During the War, he was an Intelligence Corps Staff Captain at HQ 18 Division at Singapore, becoming a Japanese PoW.  His harrowing experiences at Changi and on the “Death Railway” are vividly and movingly described in his recently reissued War Diary.

Sir James Dyson CBE - attended Gresham's from 1956 - 1965 (Old School House)Sir James Dyson.jpeg (thumbnail)

Sir James Dyson is literally a household name. With inventions such as the ball wheelbarrow and the bagless vacuum he has shown how research and design combine and has built up an enormously successful and innovative company. Dyson vacuum cleaners set the benchmarks in today's market. A passionate advocate for Engineering education, he founded the James Dyson Foundation in 2002. 

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Prof. Sir Christopher Howes KCVO CB - attended Gresham's from 1955 - 1959 (Woodlands)

A leading figure in the world of land and buildings with a career in the public, private and academic sectors, Sir Christopher was from 1989 to 2001 Second Commissioner and Chief Executive of the Crown Estate.


Alastair Hetherington (1919 - 1999) - attended Gresham's from 1933 - 1938 (Woodlands)Alastair Hetherington.jpeg (thumbnail)

The Editor of The Guardian for nearly twenty years, Hetherington is regarded as one of the leading newsmen of the second half of the twentieth century.

Baron Reith of Stonehaven KT GCVO GBE CB TD PC (1889 - 1971) - attended Gresham's from 1904 - 1906 (Bengal Lodge)

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Founder of the BBC, Lord Reith was its first general manager when it was set up as the British BroadcastingCompany in 1922, and went on to be appointed its first director general when it became a public corporation in 1927. His high-minded concept of broadcasting as a way of educating the masses had a huge influence on the BBC and similar organisations around the world. He was brought up in Scotland and joined Gresham’s in 1904, where he was the only Presbyterian and the only Scot. He enjoyed the School cadet training corps and was a good enough shot to compete at Bisley. 


Lieutenant-General Sir Terence Airey.jpeg (thumbnail)Lieutenant-General Sir Terence Airey KCMG CB CBE (1900 -1983) - attended Gresham's from 1913 - 1916 (OldSchool House)

In the course of his career, during which he served in the Sudan, Abyssinia, North Africa and Italy, Sir Terence was Mentioned in Despatches 4 times and awarded the US Legion of Merit, the French Légion d'Honneur and the Croix de Guerre.  Towards the end of the War, he was involved with Allen Dulles, the US Director of the OSS in Switzerland, in a secret mission to negotiate the surrender of German forces in Italy.

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General Sir Robert Bray GBE KCB DSO and Bar (1908 - 1983) - attended Gresham's from 1922 - 1926 (Woodlands)

Sir Robert was Deputy Supreme Commander, NATO Allied Command Europe, from 1967 to 1970.

Performing Arts


Lord Benjamin Britten (1913 - 1976) - attended Gresham's from 1928 - 1930 (Farfield)

Sir Benjamin Britten.jpeg (thumbnail)Composer, conductor and pianist. Benjamin Britten is the most widely performed British Twentieth Century composer. He was a central figure of 20th-century British classical music, with a range of works including opera, other vocal music, orchestral and chamber pieces. His best-known works include the opera Peter Grimes (1945), the War Requiem (1962) and the orchestral showpiece The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra (1945). Gresham's was featured in 2012 on BBC 1 in a broadcast about Britten's time at the School.

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Peter Brook - attended Gresham's from 1939 - 1941 (Woodlands)

Peter Brook has been the most influential figure in British and European theatre for the last sixty years. Hisproduction of A Midsummer Night’s Dream changed ideas about Shakespeare and theatre for a generation and his book The Empty Stage became the Bible for young directors in its emphasis on clarity and simplicity of productions. He lives in France and became a Companion of Honour in 1998.

Olivia Colman - attended Gresham's from 1990 - 1992 (Oakley)Olivia Colman.jpeg (thumbnail)

(born Sarah Caroline Colman; 30 January 1974) Olivia (Sarah) Colman has become one of Britain’s most popular and well known actresses. She made her name in comedy in TV programmes such as Peep Show. Recently she has been acclaimed for more serious roles in films such as Tyrannosaur and The Iron Lady in which she played Carol Thatcher. She was given the Kermode Award for Best Actress in 2012. Olivia won two BAFTAS in 2013 - best comedy actress and best supporting actress.

Stephen Frears - attended Gresham's from 1954 - 1959 (Farfield)Stephen Frears.jpeg (thumbnail)

After working in television Stephen Frears’s career blossomed with his production of My Beautiful Laundrette. His film The Queen, starring Helen Mirren, earned box office success and critical acclaim and with it he won his second Academy Award Nomination for Best Director. Success with Tamara Drewe followed in 2011.

Science and Technology

Leslie Baynes (1902 - 1989) - attended Gresham's from 1912 - 1914 (Old School House)Leslie Baynes.jpg (thumbnail)

Baynes was an aeronautical engineer. He redesigned the Short Sunderland flying boat, as well as sailplanes, heavy lift transport aircraft, hydrofoils and swivel turbines for vertical takeoff and landing aircraft. His most important achievement was his pioneering work in the field of variable geometry (“swing-wing”) technology.


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Sir Christopher Cockerell (1910 - 1999) - attended Gresham's from 1924 - 1928 (Woodlands)

An English engineer who was most well known as the inventor of the hovercraft, he had built a working model and filed his first patent for the hovercraft by 1955. He received the Howard N. Potts Medal in 1965, was made a CBE in 1966, and became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1967. In 1969 he was knighted for his services to engineering.

Sir Alan Lloyd Hodgkin (1914 - 1998) - attended Gresham's from 1927 - 1932Sir Alan Hodgkin.jpeg (thumbnail)

Alan Lloyd Hodgkin shared the 1963 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Andrew Huxley and John Eccles; this is awarded annually for outstanding discoveries in the fields of life sciences and medicine. The prize was awarded "for their discoveries concerning the ionic mechanisms involved in excitation and inhibition in the peripheral and central portions of the nerve cell membrane". He was knighted (KBE) in 1972 and appointed to the Order of Merit in 1973.


Richard Leman - attended Gresham's from 1972 - 1977 (Tallis)Richard Leman.jpeg (thumbnail)

Richard Leman won the Gold Medal for hockey at the 1988 Summer Olympics at Seoul. Four years later in the Summer Olympics at Los Angeles he won the bronze. During his long career he became England’s most capped player. A member of the Olympic association, he was chosen as President of GB Hockey in 2007.


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Ben and Tom Youngs - attended Gresham's from 1995 - 2003 (Tallis) and 1996 - 2005 (Tallis) respectively

Brothers Tom and Ben Youngs, Rugby Union players for England. Both play for Leicester Tigers, Ben as scrum-half and Tom as hooker. Although both have, at different times, played for England, they made their first joint appearance on 24th November 2012, as part of the line-up against South Africa at Twickenham. Talent for the sport runs in the family: the brothers' father, Nick Youngs, played for both Leicester and England as scrum-half. 

Ralph Firman - attended Gresham's from 1988 - 1993 (Farfield)

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Ralph is English-born but races under Irish citizenship. On leaving the School, Ralph Firman went straight into racing and led much of the 1995 Formula Three championship, but lost the title at the final round. He went on to win the title in 1996 - the same year in which he won the Macau Grand Prix. In 2003, he raced in Formula One at the Jordan team, taking part in 14 Formula One Grands Prix.In 2007, he won the Japan Super GT GT500 class championship with the Autobacs Racing Team Aguri. His sister, Natasha, is also a racing driver.

The Arts

W. H. Auden (1907 - 1973) - attended Gresham's from 1920 - 1925 (Farfield)

W H Auden.jpeg (thumbnail)Wystan Hugh Auden was an Anglo-American poet, born in England, an American citizen (from 1946), and regarded by many critics as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. His work is noted for its stylistic and technical achievement, its engagement with moral and political issues, and its variety in tone, form and content. The central themes of his poetry are love, politics and citizenship, religion and morals, and the relationship between unique human beings and the anonymous, impersonal world of nature. Today, the School's theatre is named after him. He is most famous for his poems, Funeral Blues and September 1st, 1939. The Russian poet and essayist Joseph Brodsky called him 'the greatest mind of the twentieth Century'.

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Richard Wasey Chopping (1917 - 2008) - attended Gresham's from 1928 - 1935 (Old School House & Kenwyn)

Richard Chopping is best known for illustrating the cover jackets of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels. A contemporary of another OG, Benjamin Britten, the two men were also friends. He first became established as an author and illustrator of Natural History books and childrens' books, and later taught Creative Writing at the Royal College of Art in London.

William Osborne.jpeg (thumbnail)William Osborne - attended Gresham's from 1973 - 1978 (Old School House)

William trained as a barrister after leaving Cambridge, but then became a novelist and Hollywood scriptwriter.  He has worked on over 60 films, including Twins, Goldeneye andThe Mummy.

Sir Philip Dowson (1924 - 2014) - attended Gresham's from 1938 - 1942 (Woodlands)Sir Philip Dowson.jpeg (thumbnail)

Sir Philip Dowson co-founded Arup Associates, one of the most influential architectural practices of the twentieth century. His firm’s special gift was to combine artistic and engineering design. The concert hall at Snape Maltings where he collaborated with Benjamin Britten, and the Thomas White Building at St. John’s College, Cambridge are two memorable examples of his work. He became a Royal Academician in 1979 and was awarded the Gold Medal for Architecture in 1981.

Full list of notable Old Greshamians can be found on the Wikipedia page by clicking here.