This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn more

Norwich School Blog

ON Harry Jolly (07-14) shares his Geography journey



Having spent the majority of my A-levels failing miserably in my attempts to lead Mr Rowlandson (Assistant Head of Staff Development) on tangents regarding our beloved Norwich City, I feel it extremely important to share the profound impact the Geography Department and all those who taught in it had on me, not only during my time at Norwich School but equally since. 

I began life at Norwich School with the vivacious Mr Banham (07-11) as my form tutor, I remember the first morning embarking on the Kilimanjaro-esque climb to the top of the Bishop Palace as a chubby Lower Four in an oversized blazer. A journey my blazer and I (which eventually fitted in Middle Fifth!) became extremely familiar with over the next 7 years. Mr Banham ticked every possible stereotypical geography teacher credential. I remember one tutorial, post-summer exams when faced with a room full of sulking ‘playground footballers’ who had pushed the extremities of ‘next goal wins’ during lunch break, Mr Banham set us the arduous task of decorating the form room. A room we would probably only all congregate in a couple more times before the academic year was out. Nonetheless, in the heat of summer, he opted for us crafting paper snowflakes (not quite colouring in, but close!). His enthusiasm throughout was infectious, enthusiasm superseding him and running straight through the geography department throughout my time at Norwich School. 

My GCSE years in the department were guided by Ms Turner (09-19) and Mr Hopgood, equally brilliant at nurturing curiosity, energy, and a can-do attitude throughout the classroom and field-based curriculum. I was enthused by the easy-going and independent approach, each member of the department took to teaching, the level of two-way informative discussion increasing as I progressed through the school into my A-levels. On occasion, I was susceptible to getting a little carried away but was always encouraged to get back ‘on task’, as Mr Rowlandson and Mr Goddard (83-Present) would soon channel my enthusiasm away from Carrow Road and towards the demographic transition model or glacial landscapes! 

By the time I left Norwich School in 2014, my independent learning skills and inquisition for the subject I would study for a further 3 years at Durham University were deeply rooted in my enjoyment of its topics and more importantly all those who took an interest in it. This undoubtedly set me in great stead for university life and gave me the platform to develop these interests further. When deciding on a dissertation title, I remember having flashbacks of chasing dog biscuits and tangerines down the River Tiffey, it didn’t come as much of a surprise to me when I eventually decided on studying the effects of nitrate pollution within Norfolk’s watercourses (I even managed to choose a sampling site at Carrow Bridge). 

Sadly, between the excitement of graduating and the pressure of needing to find a job quickly, I managed to convince myself that Geography and I had run our course. I ended up staying in Durham and found a role working in a start-up local estate agency where I remained reasonably content for 18-months before the sudden realisation I was meandering through my early twenties. 

It was my subsequent trip to New Zealand and admiration for the extent of environmental stewardship throughout the country causing me to search for a job allowing me to channel the Norwich School Geography Department's enthusiasm to a similar effect. Unfortunately, I had limited workplace experience within an environmental setting and found landing the opportunity for an interview extremely difficult. Much like Mr Banham’s Trinity Term Christmas decorations, I was a bit of a non-starter without engaging with them face to face! 

Fortunately, an opportunity arose in October 2019 with Grupo Ambipar, a Brazilian owned, international emergency response and environmental service provider within their Incident Preparedness and Oil Spill Response Unit. I was extremely grateful that my now boss, shares the same approach to channeling enthusiasm as the Norwich School Geography Department. It was especially important I shared this news with Mr Rowlandson after all he and his colleagues had done for me throughout my time at the school. Albeit, he was slightly disappointed that I hadn’t gone into teaching! 

Whilst Coronavirus has put a halt to several opportunities this year, I have been fortunate enough to be involved in a range of consultancy and training projects for Ports, Harbours, Windfarms and Oil/Gas Clients, delivering specialist guidance, training, and running exercises in oil and chemical spill response. No single day is the same, the mixture of preparedness activities, alongside equipment deployments and environmental responses ensure I am always considering new environmental and socio-economic sensitivities. Nonetheless, I have been somewhat grateful for the limited international travel, spending the majority of the past few months training in some of the most beautiful coastal and estuarine areas the UK has to offer. That said, I’m yet to find a better spot for eating fish and chips than Cromer Pier!  

It's very uplifting and makes me extremely proud to have been a member of Norwich School when I catch myself rekindling the hobbied approach to the natural and anthropogenic world through both work and leisure activities. I am ever conscious and thankful to those members of the Geography Department who instilled this in me, my peers, and no-doubt many more Norvicensians to come.