WHAT started out as a throwaway line from Bedale High School deputy head teacher Matt Gill to former head of physical education Martyn Coombs, has snowballed into an ever-increasing list of achievements of former students.

When asked if many ex-students had gone on to greater things in their professional life, Mr Coombs easily named several he had taught during his 40-plus year teaching career, but when he started asking previous teachers like Adrian Grayson, Ian McCarroll and Alan Coulson, the list grew significantly. Publishing the initial list on social media elicited an even greater response and Mr Coombs said he was amazed at how many had achieved so much in their sporting and business careers.

From a superstar blogger in the Philippines to a lead engineer with the Mercedes F1 race team, from a rock guitarist to a chemist who is working hard to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, from David Beckham's hair stylist to an award-winning journalist, the list has produced a stunning array of talented ex-students.

Mr Coombs said: "The school are very keen to celebrate the achievements of their alumni in some way but I am not sure if the list is absolutely complete, so if there is anyone who can add to the list, I would be delighted to hear from them by email to martync55@gmail.com."


Simon Grayson: Played for Bedale AFC, Leeds United, Leicester City, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Sheffield Wednesday, Stockport County, Notts County, Bradford City, Blackpool. Managed Blackpool, Leeds United, Huddersfield Town, Preston North End, Sunderland, Bradford City and Blackpool.

Michael Duff: Played for Cheltenham Town, Carterton Town and Burnley, where he was granted a testimonial after 11 years’ service. Michael was capped 24 times for Northern Ireland and is currently manager of Cheltenham Town.

Shane Duff: Played professionally for Cheltenham Town and Bradford.

Steve Megson: Sports injury consultant, Masters degree in Physiotherapy, BSc(Hons) in sports rehabilitation and a BSc (Hons) degree in sports science. Fourteen years as a physio in professional football with Leeds United and Bolton Wanderers FC as head physio.

Jonny Sinclair: Founder of Matthews Maverick, Inc, a registered non-profit organisation, founded in 2019, and listed as a public charity to offer affordable soccer playing opportunities to local youngsters in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Ben Palmer: Assistant first team physiotherapist at Scunthorpe United FC, Huddersfield Town, Leeds United, Leeds Rhinos Rugby League Club and The Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

Simon Mavin: Sunderland AFC apprentice professional

Graham Caygill: Professional footballer in the Philippines with Loyola Meralco Sparks FC and Ilocos United FC, winning the Philippine Football Federation National Club Championship with Loyola Meralco Sparks in 2015. Model for BENCH clothing and TOYOTA, host of TV programme Gameplan and currently a successful Youtube Vlogger in Manila, Philippines, having created a new online talent show Street Singing Superstar that he produces and hosts.

Harriet Jakeman: Ex-York City footballer and currently playing with the Newman University Jets.

Katie Kitching: Ex-Man City footballer and current player at the University of South Florida.


Christopher Gilbertson: Great Britain Men’s Water Polo team.

Lyndsey Johnson: Great Britain Water Polo team.

Francesca Clayton: Represented Great Britain in the 2012 London Olympics.


Tom Young: Ireland U18 rugby, North of England U16 rugby.


Gary Gardner: North-East's Strongest Man, England's Strongest Man, Ultimate Strongman Strongest Master and third place in Europe's Strongest Man.

John Battye: World Bench Press champion and world record holder for the British Powerlifting Organisation and British Weightlifting Association 2003. Represented Team GB in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, USA, and all over Europe, and was also GB team manager.


Alicia Kusz: Wales international gymnast 2007-08.


Daniel Brown: England U16 golf international 2009.


Ross Elgie: North of England Clay Pigeon Skeet team, 2015 England Skeet team, 2015 Scottish Skeet Open champion, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 England Olympic Skeet team and 2020 Olympic hopeful.


Abby Tarleton-Hodgson: England Karate international, European Karate champion.

Aaron Tarleton-Hodgson: England Karate international, European Karate champion.


Nikki Gill: North of England Hockey 2008.


Jonathan Harries: Awarded a Diana Memorial Award in 2001 as a reward for his gold medal as the English National 800m Cerebral Palsy Champion.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Jonathan Harries is presented with the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Award for his outstanding contribution to his school by paralympian Hazel Robson


Phoebe Powell: Advanced level professional eventing, short listed U21 European Championships, long listed Senior Nations Cup 2015. Horse breeder, selling throughout Europe and the USA.


Shaun Arnett: 1960s professional wrestler aka the Magnificent Maurice and Colonel Brodie.


Ken Smith: British Championship, RH Sidecars champion 1977.

Richard Hall: Speedway rider with Newcastle Diamonds, Newcastle Gems, Sheffield Tigers, Boston Barracudas, Coventry Bees, Peterborough Panthers, Scunthorpe Scorpions and Leicester Lions as team captain. British Junior Sand Racing Champion, British Intermediate Sand Racing Champion, ACU National Grass track Challenge Champion.

Kevin Procter: British Rallycross Grand Prix winner and the FIA World Rallycross Championship in 2014 and 2015.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Kevin Procter racing in 2015

Shaun Garner: Motor mechanic for Hyundai World Rally.

Spencer Scaife: F1 Williams team mechanic.

Mark Benson: Motor race licence for 22 years. Northern Saloon car champion and Castle Combe GTs winner. Raced in endurance events all over Europe. Mark has coached a lot of Ginetta Junior winners who’ve gone on to British Touring Cars, British GTs and World Endurance success.

Jonathan Sadler: Lead composite design engineer for the Mercedes F1 team for 18 years responsible for designing the rear wing on all on Lewis Hamilton’s championship winning cars along with the gearbox casing on the last four. Currently designing the chassis which Hamilton will drive in 2022.

Edward Blogg: Senior cost executive Rolls Royce for 17 years and now, the project management senior executive at Jaguar Land Rover


Michael Proud: England schoolboy cricket 1984.

Paul Grayson: Yorkshire and Essex CCC, two caps for England versus South Africa and Zimbabwe. Head coach at Essex CCC, director of coaching at Durham University and currently batting coach at Yorkshire CCC.


Robert Dougans: Oxford University, partner with Bryan Cave, London specialising in international disputes litigated before the English Courts and before arbitral tribunals.


Andrew Keeble: Founder and managing director of HECK Food, the biggest independent sausage brand in the UK with a £25m turnover.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Andrew Keeble with Martyn Coombs

Simon Mavin: Sales and international development director, ELT Division at Oxford University Press.

Darren Pegram: Founder/owner INKredible in the USA and GB, multi million pound turnover, property investments.

Craig Wheatley: Designer/illustrator at the Royal College of Art in London and based in Paris, he spent many years as senior surface designer and studio director at Christian Lacroix before creating Studio Wheatley in 2014. He collaborates on design projects with fashion houses Louis Vuitton, Kookai, Schiaparelli, Isabel Marant, Berluti, Barbara Bui, Astrid Elisee, Fête Impériale and interior designer brands Designers Guild and Vista Alegre.

Oliver Boothroyd: Creative lecturer in FE, GCSE visiting moderator for Pearson Publications and Edexcel ensuring standardisation is met and that centres are following the national standard within all GCSE Art & Design Endorsements.

Nigel Roberts: General manager of Trek Bicycles UK.

Bruce Bratley: Founded by its chief executive Bruce Bratley in 2004, First Mile won the recycling and waste management business of the year in 2009 at the National Recycling Awards. It now has a £20m turnover.

Cathy Mason: co-founder Masons Gin, winner of 74 international awards including three medals at the prestigious China Wine and Spirits Awards (CWSA) and four medals at the New York World Wine and Spirits Competition (NYWSC) – two of the biggest and most prestigious wine and spirits competitions globally.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

Cathy and Karl Mason

Dr Catherine Burton: Quality and compliance manager at AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals. Catherine has an academic background in infectious diseases running clinical trials on HIV and HCV before moving into the pharmaceutical industry. At Roche she developed and delivered the processes and standards for the ways of working with biomarker and safety labs globally that drove changes to the biobanking policies. In her five years in AstraZeneca she has built the clinical sampling and alliances into a global group adding new hubs in Poland and China and played a leading role in establishing robust processes critical for compliance with international regulations. Recently Catherine has been working to establish testing for Covid-19 to ensure the continued safe supply of AstraZeneca medicines to patients.


Lieutenant Colonel Bob Meldrum: Junior Regimental Sergeant Major in the British Army, passing out in 1977 under the watchful eye of Louis Mountbatten and was awarded prizes for best musician and best junior leader. Served as Bandmaster of the 1st Battalion, Staffordshire Regiment in the rank of Warrant Officer Class One seeing active service in the Gulf as a battlefield medic. In 1993 appointed as a director of music and was commissioned in the rank of Captain on March 1, 1994. Awarded an MBE in the 2005 New Year’s Honours List for Services to Army Music and in 2009 promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and appointed principal director of music of the British Army.


Will Taylor: Rhythm guitarist in the hard rock band Inglorious, Will wrote and released two albums before touring throughout Europe. Will now fronts his new band, Deever, a rebellious modern rock band currently recording a debut record at Parr Street Studios in Liverpool and North Red Studios in Darlington.

Ray Robinson: Novelist, screenwriter and musician.

Michael Christopher Place: Michael C Place has been a widely renowned name in the graphic design industry even before setting up Build, as he was once a designer at The Designers Republic, known for its revolutionary typography and design of cult video game, Wipeout. Since launching Build with wife Nicky, business director, the firm has gone on to work on inspiring projects for clients such as Nike and Virgin America.


Chris Brown: International freelance stylist to Naomi Campbell, Stella McCartney and currently employed by David Beckham.


Mark Flowers: BBC producer, writer and director of wildlife films such as Rivers of Life, Earth's Great Rivers, New Zealand: Earth's Mythical Islands, Ice Age Giants, Deadly Top Ten, Human Planet, Around the World in 80 Gardens, Nature, Gardeners' World, The Private Life of Plants.

Nadene Ghouri: Award-winning journalist, writer and presenter, a regular voice on BBC Radio 4 current affairs. She also writes ground-breaking global investigations for the Mail on Sunday’s LIVE magazine and has previously been a reporter for Al Jazeera English. She is co-author of Letters to my Daughters, the memoirs of female Afghan MP Fawzia Koofi, was the news editor of The Big Issue Magazine and social affairs correspondent of the Times Educational Supplement, before later making the move into broadcasting as a reporter on BBC Radio 5 Live. In 2001 she covered the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan, an experience which led to her not only swapping the UK for the life of a roving war reporter but also to briefly open a now legendary Kabul-based hotel, Afghan Garden. Since then Nadene has reported from conflicts in countries as diverse as Iran, DR Congo, Liberia, India, Gaza, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Tania Harrison: Creative director, TBH Productions. Tania has created and devised events and stages showcasing multiple arts, music and science companies and artists for Latitude Festival, Reading & Leeds Festivals, Pimms Summerfest, Phoenix, Homelands, Trafalgar Square, US Fleadh, Electric Picnic Dublin and Big Chill and chaired the Edinburgh Comedy Awards in 2011 & 2013, won the AAA Editor’s Award in 2016, the Dan Crawford Innovation Award in 2014, BAFA Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Arts Festivals in 2011 and Latitude won The Stage Award for Special Achievement in Regional Theatre in 2008 and UK Festival Awards Best Line Up in 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2018.


Dr Becki Lawson: Senior research fellow, Institute of Zoology, London Zoo, Senior research fellow, Institute of Zoology, postdoctoral research assistant and wildlife veterinarian, Institute of Zoology, European veterinary specialist in zoological medicine, veterinary assistant pathologist; Wildlife Veterinary Investigation Centre, veterinary editor; Wildlife Information Network, veterinarian; Orangutan Care & Quarantine Centre, Orangutan Foundation International, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, MSc Wild Animal Health; Institute of Zoology & Royal Veterinary College, RSPCA wildlife internship; RSPCA West Hatch Taunton, Somerset.

Andrew McCarroll: Senior R&D chemist at the University of Nottingham and writer of 31 publications. Also, a writer of cryptic crosswords for the Independent and iPaper newspapers.

Dr Emma J. Wells: An ecclesiastical historian and buildings archaeologist at the University of York, specialising particularly in the history and archaeology of the late medieval/early modern English parish church and cathedral, with a distinct concentration on pilgrimage, the cult of saints, sensory experience and applying cross-disciplinary and comparative approaches to the past. Emma is also a regular writer for BBC History, History Today, History Revealed, BBC Countryfile and Listed Heritage, and a tour guide for Historical Trips and Andante Travels. Her television, radio and podcast work includes appearances on Viral History, Oxford historian and broadcaster, Dr Janina Ramirez’s History Hit Art Detective podcast, and as a ‘Don’ on BBC Radio 4’s The 3rd Degree, as well as various research consultancy work.

Paul Flowers: Professor at Glasgow University, Professor Flowers is associate dean research within the School of Health and Life Sciences. He is an academician of the Academy of Social Sciences and holds a personal chair as professor of sexual health psychology and is an HCPC registered health psychologist. Throughout his career to date Professor Flowers has been keen to explore methodological innovation.