Celebrated Alumni

Celebrated Alumni


Sir Ivor Roberts KCMG, MA Oxford, FCIL   The Mount and St. Mary’s College 1953-64

Ivor took up an Open Scholarship to Keble College, Oxford in 1964 where he was a University trialist in rugby. He graduated in Modern Languages and entered the Diplomatic Service in 1968 and in 1969 posted to the Middle East Centre for Arab Studies in Lebanon. After a spell in 1970 in the Arabian Department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) he was posted to Paris. He was acting Head of Chancery in Luxembourg in 1973 before returning to the FCO to serve firstly in Eastern European and Soviet Department (Balkans desk), then in Western European Department (German desk) and subsequently in European Integration Department. In January 1978 he transferred to Canberra as First Secretary in Chancery. In 1980 he was posted temporarily to the newly independent Pacific state of Vanuatu (formerly New Hebrides) as Political Adviser at the time of a rebellion, returning to Canberra as Head of the Economic and Commercial Department, and Agricultural Adviser. Subsequently he moved back to London to take up the post of Deputy Head of News Department and was later Head of Counterterrorism in the FCO. Thereafter he was Minister in the British Embassy in Madrid, then Head of Mission (later Ambassador) in Belgrade during the Bosnian war. From January 1998 to February 1999 he was on a sabbatical as a Senior Associate Member of St. Antony's College, Oxford, writing and lecturing on his experiences in Yugoslavia. From February 1999 to March 2003 he served as Ambassador to the Republic of Ireland in the wake of the Good Friday Agreement and from May 2003 to September 2006 as Ambassador to Italy and to San Marino. He retired from the Diplomatic Service in September 2006 on his election as the President of Trinity College, Oxford. Sir Ivor is an Honorary Fellow of Keble College, Oxford, and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Linguists (FCIL). He is a Patron of the Venice in Peril Fund and was Chairman of the Council of the British School in Rome from 2007-12. He is also President of the Oxford University Rugby Football Club. In the 1995 Queen's Birthday Honours List, he was made a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (CMG) and in 2000 was made a Knight Commander of the Order (KCMG). He is also Patron of the Friends of St Mary’s.


Dr Thérèse Coffey MP   St. Mary’s College 1986-1988

Thérèse graduated from UCL with a PhD in Chemistry, joined the international company Mars. She qualified as a chartered management accountant, became Finance Director for a UK subsidiary and has also worked at the BBC.
She contested Wrexham in 2005 and European elections in 2004 and 2009. Thérèse is Member of Parliament for the Suffolk Coastal constituency since the general election in May 2010. Thérèse was successfully re-elected in May 2015, doubling her majority. In the last Parliament she served on the Culture, Media and Sport Committee until she was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to Michael Fallon, Minister for Business and Energy. She then served in Government as an Assistant Whip. Thérèse is now Deputy Leader of the House of Commons.


Camilla Mankabady   St. Mary's College 1989-90

Camilla Mankabady is a senior TV journalist who over the last twenty years has held editorial responsibility for the nation's most watched TV news bulletins at both the BBC and at ITV. She is currently the News at Ten Programme Editor for ITV News, following 14 years as the senior Programme Editor for BBC One. Camilla joined St Mary's in 1989 to study A Levels in English, Geography, Religion and General Studies. She was Head Girl from 1989-1990. She read English at the University of York, before completing a post-graduate course in Broadcast Journalism.


Lord John Birt   The Mount and St. Mary’s College 1953-63

After graduating from Oxford, John went to work in ITV, first at Granada TV where he produced Nice Time, and was Editor of World in Action. He moved to LWT, where he founded Weekend World and The South Bank Show before becoming Director of Programmes. On leave of absence from LWT, he produced David Frost’s interviews with Richard Nixon.
John moved to the BBC in 1987 where he was first Deputy Director-General with oversight of all News and Current Affairs, before becoming Director-General.
In 2000, he was appointed to the House of Lords, and became Strategy Adviser to the Prime Minister (Tony Blair). Since 2005, John has held a number of commercial posts, including Chairman, PayPal Europe; Chairman, HEG; and Vice-Chairman, Eutelsat. He has two children, and five grandchildren.


Major General Richard Wardlaw OBE   The Mount and St. Mary’s College 1974-86

Born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1967, Major General Wardlaw was educated at St. Mary's College, Liverpool before graduating in Production Engineering from the University of Nottingham in 1991. Commissioned into the Royal Engineers in 1992, his early military career saw service in a wide variety of engineer regiments including The Queen’s Gurkha Engineers, and in a range of locations including Hong Kong, Brunei, Bosnia, Falkland Islands, Germany and the UK. Following the Advanced Command and Staff Course, in 2002 he took command of 20 Field Squadron and led deployments to Northern Ireland on Op DESCANT, and Iraq on Op TELIC 1 returning to the staff as Military Assistant to Chief of Staff LAND in 2004. On promotion to Lieutenant Colonel, he deployed in 2006 to Iraq as Chief J5 Plans HQ Multinational Division (South-East), where he was responsible for planning the restoration of security in Basra and the transition to Provincial Iraqi Control. On taking command of 36 Engineer Regiment in 2007, he led the unit deployment in support of 52 Brigade to Afghanistan on Op HERRICK 7, the highlight of which was the retaking of Musa Qaleh and its subsequent stabilisation. Following promotion and Higher Command and Staff Course in 2010, he joined the General Staff as Assistant Director Manning in the Directorate of Manning (Army), during which time he led the design and implementation of the post SDSR Army Redundancy Programme. On promotion to Brigadier in June 2012, he was appointed Chief Engineer and Civil Military Interaction in HQ Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (a NATO HQ) where he spearheaded the development of the Comprehensive Approach at the operational level. In 2014 he was appointed as Director Army Plans in Army HQ where he was responsible as Programme Director for the implementation of the changes to the British Army under Army 2020 and support to the reorganisation of the Army HQ following the Army Command Review. Major General Wardlaw was awarded the QCVS in 2007 and again in 2008 following his tours of Iraq and Afghanistan and received his OBE following his time as AD Manning. Major General Richard Wardlaw was appointed Chief of Staff, Headquarters Allied Rapid Reaction Corps in September 2015.


Rachael Russell   St. Mary’s College 1992-2000

Rachael continues to amaze audiences with her unique voice, enthralling musicality and powerful stage presence. A regular guest at renowned concert and theatre venues, she was awarded ‘Best New Talent in Classical Music’ and ‘Voice of the Year’ for the European Capital of Culture 2008. Over recent years Rachael has toured internationally with her one-woman theatre shows ‘This Is Me’ and ‘Women In love’. Rachael is also an established concert artist and has performed in a wide variety of venues across the UK and Europe from the Beau-Rivage Palace in Lausanne, Switzerland, to the flight decks of HMS Invincible and HMS Albion performing before many famous people, including their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales, The Earl of Wessex, and The Duchess of Cornwall and in the House of Lords for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations. Her operatic roles are wide and varied, including Stravinsky’s ‘The Rake’s Progress’, Monteverdi’s ‘The Coronation of Poppea’ Handel’s ‘Samson’, and Yvette in Puccini’s ‘La Rondine’. Notable theatre credits include The Plaintiff in Gilbert & Sullivan’s ‘Trial by Jury’, Édith Piaf in Pam Gem’s musical drama ‘Piaf’, and Mrs Johnstone in Willy Russell’s long-running West End musical ‘Blood Brothers’.

A former pupil and music scholar of St. Mary’s College, Rachael continued to study voice at the Royal College of Music, London and the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester and in addition to her achievements in music, Rachael is also an established Actress with a diploma in acting from the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts.


Will Hanrahan   St. Mary’s College 1970-77

Will is a television/radio producer and presenter best known for working on BBC programmes such as Watchdog and Good Morning. Since 1994 he has headed an independent TV company, First Look TV, which currently produces studio programming and documentaries for the BBC and Sky TV in the UK, A&E and Discovery in the USA, Foxtel in Australia and a raft of channels in Eastern Europe and Italy. He is a law graduate, has gained an MA in Literature and a further degree in History. Earlier this year Hanrahan also returned to his favourite job, radio presenting, as a guest host on BBC Radio. In his non-broadcast work, he is a Chair of an ArtsHouse theatre and community venue, and is a recently-appointed governor at Compton Verney Art Gallery. He has been a lay member of the Faculty of Public Health, served as a School Governor and contributed to Skillset strategic policy in the training of young people for Broadcasting in Britain. He is an active contributor to the community of Stratford where he chairs Stratford Vision, a non-political group made up of businesses, local authority members and charities.


John Benedict Thompson   The Mount and St. Mary’s College 1943-47

John Benedict Thompson was bom on 10th June 1935, the son of William and Alice Thompson. He was educated at St. Mary's College, Crosby and then at St. Joseph's College, Upholland. He was ordained priest by Archbishop John Carmel Heenan at SS Peter & Paul, Crosby, on 12th June 1960. He served at St. Joseph's, Leigh, for four years as assistant priest, before being sent for further studies in the autumn of 1964. He resided for two years at the Beda College in Rome whilst completing a licentiate in canon law at the Gregorian University. Upon his return to the archdiocese he was appointed assistant priest at Sacred Heart, Liverpool, in September 1966 and also as a notary in the Metropolitan Tribunal. The following September he was appointed secretary to Bishop Augustine Harris, the then auxiliary bishop, and also chaplain to La Sagesse School, Grassendale. In February 1972, following an invitation from Fr Agnellus Andrew, then Director of the Catholic Radio and Television Centre at Hatch End, he went to work at the BBC in Manchester in the Religious Broadcasting Department, which he did for the next four years. After a brief secondment at Hatch End, he returned to the archdiocese in June 1976 as chaplain to Liverpool Polytechnic and also to work at BBC Radio Merseyside. He was very much part of BBC Radio Merseyside during the early years of local radio, building up a following through his Sunday morning programme All in Good Faith, which ran through the 1970s until 1987. Even when his regular programme finished he continue to contribute to Thought.for the Day. During his time as Religious Producer he broadcast many live discussion programmes during Lent and played a major part in the coverage of the visit of Pope John Paul II to Liverpool in 1982. He is remembered for his warmth and humour, which made him a friend to all through his many years of broadcasting. He is remembered too with great affection by his parishioners at St. Leo's, Whiston (1982-1984) and especially at St. Francis de Sales, Walton, where he was parish priest for 32 years between 1984 and 2016.


Paul Thompson The Mount and St. Mary’s College 1950s

Fr Paul Thompson was well known as press and information officer for the Archdiocese of Liverpool from 1978 until 1991, when he became editor of the Catholic Pictorial newspaper. Paul Thompson was born in Crosby on 12th May 1949, the son of William and Alice Thompson. He attended SS Peter & Paul’s Primary School; The Mount Preparatory School and St. Mary’s College before commencing studies for the priesthood at St. Joseph’s College, Upholland. He was ordained priest in the Metropolitan Cathedral, Liverpool in 1973 and his first appointment was as assistant priest at St. Aidan’s parish, Huyton. In October 1978 he became Press and Information Officer for the Archdiocese of Liverpool and moved to live at Cathedral House. His thirteen years at the Press Office were busy ones including the National Pastoral Congress which gathered in Liverpool in 1980 and the papal visit in 1982. He was very much a friend of the media, popular and well-liked, not least because of his legendary good humour. In September 1991 to use Fr Paul’s own words ‘the game keeper turned poacher’ when he was appointed as editor of the Catholic Pictorial newspaper. He was also chaplain at Ince Blundell Hall. In February 1993 he became parish priest of Our Lady of Sorrows church, Stopgate Lane, Liverpool. He died there, suddenly, following a pulmonary embolism on the morning of Monday 22nd March 1993.