Date Posted... Feb 18th 2020
From working in the charity sector to becoming a parliamentary candidate for Truro and Falmouth
Born and raised in Perranwell along with her three siblings, Ruth Gripper attended Truro School from 1996-2003. Her brothers and sister also attended Truro School. Hugh Gripper CO00, John Gripper CO05, and Ann Glaze (nee Gripper) CO98.
After leaving Truro School, Ruth went on to work at Marks & Spencer and at her local pub before travelling with a school friend. Shortly after, she accepted her place at the University of Birmingham to study International Studies and French, and after graduating spent a year teaching English in France.
Since returning to the UK, Ruth has had a variety of interesting roles including working for Norman Lamb MP in London, and moving to the charity sector which exposed her to ‘many interesting people and ideas’.
Currently, Ruth is a Knowledge Exchange Officer for the LINCoS Project. She is based at the European Centre for Environment and Human Health (ECEHH) at the Knowledge Spa in Truro. ECEHH is part of the University of Exeter.
She explained her responsibilities: I engage with local businesses to connect them up to the research, facilities, and expertise within the university. The programme I’m working on is looking at health in the workplace, and how we can help more people stay in work. Alongside her day job, she has also recently been selected as a parliamentary candidate for the Truro and Falmouth constituency, with her supportive parents throwing themselves into campaigning. She elaborated: Dad has started randomly canvassing people in Sainsbury’s and Mum is brilliant talking to people on the doorstep. I’m only sad my Granny didn’t live to see this. Many school friends will remember Granny Gripper, and she’d have absolutely loved this and telling all her neighbours about her granddaughter the parliamentary candidate. Her father was a Labour councillor in Leeds in the 1940s.
Ruth advised that for anyone thinking about going in to politics, it is important to believe in themselves, have the confidence to go for it, and to get involved, which she explained doesn’t mean just standing for parliament and could be anything from helping in your local community, to campaigning for something you care about.
Her top tip was: Get some experience with your local MP or local party to find out if it’s for you. And get as much experience as you can outside politics, too. Although having numerous careers, Ruth explained what’s important to her is working for causes she believes in, doing something enjoyable and with a purpose.
Reflecting upon her time at School, Ruth said the academic side was important to open doors, but mostly took away her ‘solid foundation of friends’ and a work ethic and self-confidence to try things, citing her ‘excellent’ teachers for playing their part and paying tribute to Mr Heseltine who she described as a patient and kind teacher who always had time for his pupils.
Ruth delved into some of her favourite memories of having been in the same year group as a number of netball players, all coached by England coach Jean Davies, and being ‘transfixed’ by watching the school performance of Macbeth. It was one of Mr Mulligan’s earliest productions. I’m sure anyone else who saw it remembers it too, especially the opening scene! And Bohemian Rhapsody at the student Sixth Form concert. Mark Smith transcribed each part by ear and coordinated the performance which included the gospel choir set up by Rosie Austin (another very talented musician), various student bands and Ms Neale reliving her punk rock days.
Now Ruth has returned home to Perranwell, she spends her leisure time swing-dancing, getting outdoors on the Cornish coast, walking, running, sketching, swimming in the sea and catching up with friends – ideally with some sort of cake involved, she joked.
We asked Ruth if she felt her time at School, or anything about her time, helped her to progress in later life?
The academic side of things was obviously important and opened up doors, but I think the main thing that Truro School gave me was a solid foundation of friends, a work ethic and the self-confidence to try things. I was lucky to be taught by some really excellent teachers, but I want to pay particular tribute to Mr Heseltine who was the head of art when I was at School. He was a brilliant teacher, patient and kind and always had time for us students. You felt like he wanted what was best for us as individuals.