It’s a privilege to share the stories of staff members who work so hard behind the scenes in our My Radley series. Anne is one such person, having worked as a technician in the Chemistry department for 24 years. We met Anne in the department’s smart and spacious prep room and started by asking her how she arrived at Radley.

I joined in 2000, having previously worked in a coffee shop in Abingdon for quite a few years which I really enjoyed. A friend recommended the job here and I came on a whim one afternoon to ask about the vacancy. At the time, the science technicians were employed by the Housekeeping department. After I’d been here a few years, the then-Biology technician and I were taken on by the Heads of Chemistry and Biology.

At the beginning I just worked in the mornings, the main part of the role being clearing up after lessons and replenishing supplies, but as the years have gone on, the role has broadened. There’s a lot to learn and think about in terms of health & safety and the safe storage and labelling of chemicals.

What does a typical day involve?

We use an online system to manage the labs, equipment and experiments; each don uses it to enter the details of what they need for each lesson. This is a relatively new process which has taken over from our previous paper-based system and it’s much better. I can see what equipment and chemicals are needed and keep a track of everything. We take everything through and set it up in each lab, then clear away after and wash everything up. There are busy days when supplies are needed for back-to-back lessons, but the team is really supportive and friendly and we have a great Head of Department, Oliver Choroba (Head of Chemistry & Science) and we all get together regularly, including at weekly team meetings.

What changes have you seen over the years?

The Science Centre underwent an extensive refurbishment project in 2018 – 2019, re-opening for the Michaelmas Term 2019. The Science Centre was first built in 1937, and then refurbished in 1984, so it was ready for its new lease of life. Covid happened almost as soon as the Centre re-opened which was really sad. I remember coming in at Easter after the second lockdown and taking the Christmas tree down!

The space we have now is so modern and light compared to the original building which had a lot of Victorian features and wood panelling. The Chemistry prep room is bright and airy with lovely views and lots of space. We’ve had the same staff room since I joined; it used to have several shared computers before staff had their own. During the refurbishment, the staff room became our prep room and we had several temporary buildings for storage.

What makes Radley a special place to work?

The friendships I’ve made over the years here are really important to me. The technicians are close, and as well as working together in term time we see each other socially in the holidays too. I keep in touch with some of my former colleagues who left many years ago and see them regularly. Radley is such a friendly place and everyone is helpful and kind. We are lucky to work in such beautiful surroundings and I love going for walks in the grounds.


Radley is such a friendly place and everyone is helpful and kind. We are lucky to work in such beautiful surroundings and I love going for walks in the grounds.

Can you pick any highlights from your time here so far?

I missed my long-service celebration because of Covid but I really enjoyed the Celebration Tea we had in April 2022. It was also amazing to be part of the 175th anniversary of the school – everyone felt included in the celebrations and I loved the aerial photo that was taken to mark the milestone.

I really enjoy going to the plays and concerts here when I can. I also occasionally get the chance to go to various meetings and conferences of school science technicians – in the past we have been to other schools like Harrow and Monkton Combe in Bath – it’s so interesting to meet other technicians and learn how different schools work.

Tell us a bit about your life away from work.

Over the years my husband and I have taken on a few big projects refurbishing houses. The biggest was a three-storey town house in East St. Helen’s Street, Abingdon, which we completely renovated from top to bottom, but I don’t think I’d do anything that extreme again. We lived there during the whole project and sold it 12 years later. I enjoy DIY and my husband is a painter and decorator so we make a good team.

Iain and I have been married for 45 years this year and we have two children, Clare and Mark, and two grandaughters. One of the things we love doing is travelling, especially with friends, and have visited India, South Africa, Portugal and several Caribbean islands, including Aruba, Antigua and Barbados. We’re planning to visit some of the gorgeous Greek islands next.