Successful Old Girls

Old Girls’ Success Stories


Zara Benyounes

(BGSG: 1989 – 2003)

University: Bishop Burton College

A former principal of the National Youth Orchestra and the Hallé Youth Orchestra, Zara Benyounes was awarded a full scholarship to study at the Royal Northern College of Music. She has since won many musical awards and has had a varied and busy freelance career working with ensembles such as the Hallé and Aurora Orchestras and recording music for TV and film at the infamous Abbey Road Studios. Her string quartet ‘The Benyounes Quartet’ was founded at the RNCM and later accepted into the class of the world renowned chamber musician Gábor Takács-Nagy at the Haute Ecole de Musique de Genève. The quartet continue to perform throughout the UK and Europe in some of the most prestigious concert halls.

“I loved my 14 years at BGS Girls; I could do them all over again. I have such fond memories of the school and made so many friends there.”

Diane Coyle

(BGSG: 1971 – 1978)

University: Brasenose College, Oxford, Harvard University

Economist at the Treasury and then in the private sector, Diane switched to journalism at The Investors Chronicle and then as Economics Editor at The Independent. In 2001 she set up a consultancy business, Enlightenment Economics, which Diane has combined with a series of public service roles - as a member of the Competition Commission, of the Migration Advisory Committee, and now as Vice Chair of the BBC Trust. Diane has also written a number of books, and is a (part-time) Professor of Economics at the University of Manchester.

Kate Cross

(BGSG: 1996 – 2010)

University: University of Leeds

Selected for Lancashire while still at school, in January 2014 Kate joined the England Women’s cricket team in time for the Ashes Tour of Australia. England went on to win the series and retain the Ashes by a margin of 10 points to 8.

“BGSG was my home from a very young age through to Sixth Form where I was given the honour of Sports Captain in my final year. I’ll always be grateful of everything that Bury Grammar offered me, both in school and with my cricket outside of school.”

Victoria Derbyshire

Victoria joined Bury Grammar School in 1978 before going on to study English at the University of Liverpool followed by a post-graduate diploma course in radio and TV journalism. She has worked in local and national radio and TV presenting news and current affair programmes and has received many prestigious awards throughout her career. Victoria recently won a BAFTA for her investigative journalism and TV programme.

Helen Huthwaite (née Bolton)

(BGSG: 1996 – 2003)

University: Durham University

Helen was Head Girl at Bury Grammar School before going to Durham University to study English Literature. Immediately after graduating, Helen co-founded the charity S.A.L.V.E. International, an organisation which works with children living on the streets of Uganda, providing them with access to homes and education. Following an MA in Publishing, she now has a successful career with Harper Collins Publishers.
“My time at BGSG was full and happy. My overwhelming feeling was one of support and endless opportunity. This was where my passion for English Literature blossomed; it was where I learnt we have the power to help those around us; and it was where I learnt that anything is possible.”

Major Catherine Masling

(BGSG: 1987 – 1995)

University: University of Leeds

Catherine was the first girl to join the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) in 1992. She went on to join the British Army and the Royal Army Medical Corps as an Officer in 2000 after completing her degree at the University of Leeds.

“BGSG formed my character and provided me with an opportunity to develop the confidence, self-reliance and leadership skills required to pursue a professional military career as a Commissioned Officer in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces.”

Kate O’Flynn

(BGSG: 1996 – 2003)

Royal Academy of Dramatic Art

After graduating from RADA, Kate began her exciting and dramatic career starring in Mike Leigh’s Oscar nominated Film Happy Go Lucky. Amongst others, she has appeared at the National Theatre and The Royal Exchange.

“I have VERY happy memories of BGS. It was such a stimulating environment; we were always encouraged to push through any glass ceilings, fulfil our potential and follow our passions. I had inspirational teachers and made lifelong friends.”

Heather Sellars

(BGSG: 1998 – 2009)

University: Leeds Metropolitan

A cross Channel swimmer while still at school, Heather raised significant funds for the Sixth Form Centre becoming our youngest major donor. She went on to study at Leeds Metropolitan University where she trained with the World Triathlon Performance Squad and represented Great Britain. Heather finished 2nd at the World University Triathlon Championships in Brazil in April 2014.

“My time at BGSG was amazing. It has opened so many doors for me. I am so grateful for the excellent education and without BGSG I would not be where I am now being able to travel the world as an international triathlete.”

Nicola Shindler

(BGSG: 1979 – 1987)

University: University of Cambridge

Nicola is founder of one of Britain’s foremost independent TV production companies, Red Production Company. The output of RED, founded in Spring 1998, has included Queer As Folk (Channel 4), Scott & Bailey (ITV) and the multi BAFTA-winning Last Tango in Halifax (BBC). Nicola was also executive producer on RED‘s latest original productions including critically acclaimed Happy Valley (BBC).

“I remember my time at BGS very fondly as a place where I was allowed to find my own direction, understand more what I could achieve and work towards it, always supported. I was very happy there.”

Victoria Wood

(BGSG: 1964 to 1971)

A talented performer and writer whilst at BGSG, Victoria went on to study drama at the University of Birmingham. Victoria won many awards during her career and was awarded an OBE IN 1997 and a CBE in 2008 in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Victoria passed away in 2016.