“I arrived at Nottingham Girls’ High School in the third year of senior school on a full bursary after the imminent closure of the grammar school I was attending. I have no recollection of my first day, but I suspect I was over-awed! At the time I went to Nottingham, my father was a local government clerk and mum, previously a secretary, had gone to a polytechnic in her late 30s to train as a primary school teacher. She taught in the inner city. None of my family had otherwise had any education beyond school other than apprenticeships. My NGHS friends tell me I wore my previous school uniform for three months until my parents were able to afford the NGHS uniform! However, I don’t believe my bursary status had any effect on my experience. I can’t remember ever thinking about it. I had to collect tokens for my lunch from the bursar, but again didn’t consider this in any negative way. Perhaps in the 1970s there was less social pressure, I certainly encountered no stigma.
When I discovered I had been awarded a bursary, I didn’t really know what it all meant. My parents had the vision and I just accepted I was going to a new school. I didn’t really understand about fees and bursaries though I knew my parents would not have been able to afford to send me to any fee-paying school. Now I am 100% sure that my life would have been very different without the bursary! I would have moved to the local comprehensive school when the grammar school was closed, I would not have achieved my academic potential, would not have gained a scholarship to Oxford to read medicine, would not have had a career as a GP culminating in the position of Medical Director of Nottinghamshire’s out-of-hours and emergency primary care organization (NEMS) with responsibility for the care of 1.75 million people…
After medical school, I trained as a GP in Leicester, becoming a partner in the inner city and while there started the first in-house general practice counselling service, we believe the first sustainable model in the UK. I also became heavily involved with teaching of medical students and GPs as a GP trainer. I moved to Nottingham in 2002 and in addition to my GP partnership, started work for NEMS and gradually became more involved in the organisation, particularly in governance issues, developing a robust clinical audit system. I was appointed Medical Director of NEMs in 2014 and continued in this role alongside my GP partnership. I continue to work as a Medical Advisor to NEMs today and help the new Medical Director in the investigation of complaints, significant events and performance issues and am still an active member of the audit group. My clinical commitments are now solely in the out-of-hours timetable…I tried to retire from clinical work, but missed it too much!
Other than enabling me to become a doctor, my time at Nottingham gave me the confidence to stick my head above the parapet and both apply and volunteer for additional roles which have hugely enhanced my professional experience and allowed me to flourish and grow. It taught me to question, to be able to stand my corner, to have an inquisitive outlook, to be inclusive.
For me, a bursary meant the opportunity to realise the potential I had within, and that’s what the GDST means to me today- the opportunity to achieve one’s potential in every respect. I think bursaries are still important in today’s world to allow girls like me to have opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t have and to become women who make a difference.
Funding bursaries is a fantastic opportunity to give something unique to a young person and the consequences can be huge, with potential future benefits to the local and even national community and businesses. If I could give any advice to a girl starting in September who is in receipt of a bursary, I’d say don’t even think about being on a bursary! Throw yourself in and absorb everything you can”.
Dr Anita Bloor
Medical Director, NEMS
Alumna, Nottingham Girls’ High School
Class of 1980