One of the team of cleaners at Radley who work so hard behind the scenes to make the College a pleasant environment to live and work in, Sarah joined in 2012 and is currently based in B Social. We sat down for a tea break with Sarah to ask her more about what Radley means to her.
I’ve been here ten years – I joined when my daughter was young and in nursery so this job fitted really well around childcare. Originally I was all-year-round but when my daughter started school I was able to get a term-time position which is great.
You’re based in B Social now – is that where you’ve always been?
No, when I arrived I worked in a number of areas of the College and covered colleagues when they were away and cleaned wherever was needed. Then I went to C Social for just over a year before moving to B Social Tutor’s House – originally when Richard Greed was Tutor and now the Scott-Malden family. They are a lovely family and so kind. I also used to clean the Sub-Warden’s house – again, originally when Mike and Francis Hopkins lived there until he sadly passed away and Francis moved. Since then of course the Holden family have lived there. After Covid everything changed and I started cleaning in B Social itself. I was a bit hesitant about this at first but I absolutely love it! I clean the communal areas, the boot room, 17 boy’s rooms and three lots of toilets.
That sounds like a lot of hard work!
Most days there is quite a lot to get through! Sometimes you get thrown a curve ball, like the day I noticed some interesting artwork outlined on the white walls but we couldn’t work out what it was or really see it well enough to clean it. It turned out someone had decided to bring out their inner Banksy and had been graffitiing using deodorant. As I say, each day tends to bring a new and unexpected challenge!
Tell us more about the B Social team and your colleagues there.
It’s a real community – it’s one of the things I love best about Radley. The ladies who clean in B, we all support each other and we make a great team, we work really well together and help each other. In 2018 I was diagnosed with a brain tumour and just before Lockdown in 2020 I started radiotherapy treatment. That extended my time off so I didn’t come back after Lockdown as quickly as I would have done otherwise as I was still healing after the treatment. It makes such a difference having a group of colleagues who are supportive if I’m having a bad day. I do suffer from headaches, fatigue, hearing loss, sometimes my balance can go, but I try to be as positive as I can and not let it affect me too much. Coming into work is the best thing I can do – to have the normality and see my colleagues who always cheer me up. I’m lucky, I really do enjoy my job.
Can you pick a memorable moment from your time here?
Sad but poignant was Mr Hopkins’ memorial service in the Chapel – it was beautiful. I love the Chapel, I’ve been to several memorable services including the annual Remembrance Services and of course, recently the wonderful service for our late Queen which was very moving.
What’s changed in your time here?
There’s been lots of building work over the years – Coffee Shop, L Social, the Chapel for example – and I love the mix of historic and traditional with modern and contemporary, there’s always something interesting to learn about.
What makes Radley a special place to work?
I love the history of the College and the artwork that’s all over the campus. There’s one thing I’ve been intrigued by since I first noticed it – in the Mansion there are two staircases leading up to the Common Room and the Warden’s office. If you look at the bottom of the staircase by Admissions there’s a hand carved into the banister – it’s straight out of Harry Potter, you expect it to be able to grab you at any moment!
What three words would you use to describe Radley?
Tradition. Education. Beautiful.