Briefly, tell us about your background and career up to this point?
I got my first job as a child working with my grandad on his farm, and I enjoyed helping the sick and injured animals. After school, I took a variety of jobs in bars, garages and hospitals while studying science at the Open University. A back injury had put an end to me working in the hospital when I spotted an advert for a Junior Technician in the medical school dissecting room.
When I started, I was amazed how the academic staff took an interest in the techs. Mopping the floor near professors meant that you would absorb their teachings and they would always take time to explain something if you asked.
I remember one of the academics, Dr Parry, saying to me that I would run the dissecting room one day. I laughed at the time but, as always, his prediction was right. In 2006, I became a Technical Manager and I’ve since gained The Anatomical Society qualifications and achieved HEA fellowship, thanks to the support of my colleagues at King’s.
What is a typical day like for you? How did this change due to COVID-19?
There are four techs, and we take everything in turns. We help with record keeping and bookings, care for the donors (preparing prosections, getting ready for cremation etc), teach undergraduates and pastoral care, and work with health care professionals, academics and professional services on various projects.
We had to adapt to COVID-19, but after the initial disruption we were able to continue with a lab service for students, which has been great. At the start of the pandemic, we were asked by the ENT consultants to set up a training day to practice tracheostomy for ventilating COVID-19 patients. It was an honour to help them.
I think we have a fantastic team in anatomy. The highlight of my day is seeing our Junior Technicians, demonstrators and students learning something new and being a part of that.
What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?
If you’re looking for advice on how to do something, get it from an expert. It will save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
And your friend doesn’t know how to bleach your hair – there will be disastrous consequences.
Do you have any current projects that you’d like to tell us about?
There’s always a lot of projects on the go!
I’m excited to be working with Dave Parry and King’s Academy on a practical skills portfolio and exchange project, as well as helping him and some surgeons develop new techniques in practical surgical training. I’m also working with the anatomy demonstrators on preparing neuro prosections and anatomical models.
What are you most looking forward to this year?
I think, like most people, visiting family in the holidays.
Looking back, what has the pandemic and resulting lockdowns taught you?
I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed just being at home with no pressure to attend social events.
What do you do with your time outside academia?
I got a guitar in lockdown and I’m still trying to play it. I also find baking very relaxing, and I occasionally pretend to enjoy running. Mainly though, just meeting up with friends and family for a meal or drink is what keeps me happy.
Netflix recommendation: Cancel it and read a book!
Coffee order: Americano
Describe yourself in three words… Supportive, stern, kind
Most-used emoji: ❤️