Simon was a student at Truro School from 1999 to 2006 and has lots of special memories from those early days.
“It was the sense of excitement, being with your friends and exploring all of the opportunities available to us ‘on top of the hill’. My fondest memories are everything from the enthusiastic tennis and French lessons with Mr Hunt, the explosive chemistry experiments, the arts, music and sports clubs, and the general culture of achievement. I also remain amazed and mystified how Guy Dodd (TS Head 1993-2001) knew all the names of my 1st Year cohort! Looking back, there are always things we wish we could have done better, or opportunities we wish we had made more of, but my time at Truro School certainly inspired me to strive to achieve my best. I believe the interpersonal skills I gained from taking part in extra-curricular activities at school, such as the Jazz Orchestra and sporting clubs, helped me to come out of my shell when I started university, developing strong friendships that I still have 10 years on”.
Simon always had a strong interest in physical geography and earth-based sciences (mining etc) but explains that in the early stages, he was uncertain where his career path lay:
“I chose A-Level subjects that I enjoyed and found interesting (history, geography, chemistry), thinking that was a good place to start, and by doing this, I might at least end up with a career I would enjoy”.
After his A-Level results, Simon received an offer to study Environmental Geoscience at Cardiff University, but chose to take a year out to gain some work experience and an idea of the industry he might pursue after his studies. This led him to approaching Dr Tony Batchelor (Old Truronian Parent), Managing Director and Chairman of Geoscience Ltd, based in Falmouth. This resulted in Simon joining the geothermal energy development team for a year, before taking his place at Cardiff University in 2007.
Graduating with a masters in Applied Environmental Geology in 2011, Simon wanted the challenge of applying his knowledge in a foreign environment so moved to Australia in 2013 with WSP (one of the world’s leading professional services firms providing technical expertise and strategic advice to clients in the Transportation and Infrastructure industries). In 2014, he was named as a finalist for the Australia Contaminated Land Consultants Association (ACLCA) Young Achiever Award.
Simon returned to the UK in 2015 and currently works for Atkins, a multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy, in their Bristol office. Having lost touch with most of his Truro School year group since university, Simon was surprised to find a fellow Old Truronian, Tristan Parry CO06, just a few desks away when he started work at Atkins in 2018.
As a Chartered Senior Environmental Consultant in the Contaminated Land and Hydrogeology team his role includes the design and implementation of site investigations and remediation strategies to identify and eliminate contaminants, enabling the redevelopment of brown–field land.
“Using my knowledge gained undertaking contaminated land risk assessment, remediation and waste assessments in environments such as airfields, gasworks, and landfills, I sit on the Atkins Human Health Technical Network and I am a Project Manager for clients such as, National Grid, Environment Agency, St Modwen Developments and Wessex Water”.
Simon continued his trend for award nominations when one of his projects achieved a ‘Highly Commended’ award at the Brownfield Awards 2020, ‘Best Scientific/Technical/Digital Advance’ category. The project used an innovative technique, radiocarbon dating analysis, to date the decay of Carbon-14 isotopes and the percentage of modern gas within methane samples and ascertain if the high methane gas concentrations were being generated by a biogenic source (occurring naturally on-site from the underlying ground) or leaking from high pressure gas mains on-site.
Simon currently lives in Cardiff with his wife of six years, Louise, and their two children: Olivia, aged four, and William, aged two. Simon still has cousins in Cornwall, but both of his parents have since moved out of the county to Gloucestershire and Chepstow to be closer to their grandchildren. Spare time means enjoying his young family:
“I cherish watching them grow and hope to encourage a love of nature with forest walks, local beach explorations and green fingers in the garden”. If time allows Simon also likes a round of golf with friends ‘for a chat, a walk and a little de-stressing’!
Simon’s advice for anyone considering a similar career:
“Looking back now, my choice of A-Level subjects has served me very well. Contaminated land is the study of historical human development, understanding the natural environmental geography/geology setting and analysing the chemical data to determine the outturn risks for human health and the environment.
In Cornwall there is such a rich industrial legacy alongside special environmental and geological heritage. If this sparks an interest in you, then consider a career in contaminated land assessment. I was not an A* student, but when I found something that interested or inspired me, it became easy to work tirelessly to achieve and learn more. Find out what inspires you and then try to follow it, because all we really want is to end up in a career that makes us happy”.
And what of the future?
“As the saying goes ‘every day is a school day’ so my aim is to keep learning and developing. In my current role I work closely with carbon and sustainability consultants, I find their work ground-breaking and fascinating. To be involved in projects where you are helping reduce the effects of climate change is an exciting challenge, and I want to take those skills and apply them to my specialism. It is my aim to achieve the Specialist in Land Contamination (SiLC) qualification in the next few years, and one day perhaps start my own business”.