Ash Soan – Professional musician (Drummer)

Ash attended The Grove School from 1981 to 1986. He has always been passionate about music and started lessons at an early age. His classmates remember him as a talented drummer and he especially remembers the support from his music teacher, Mr Alan Jones. After leaving, Ash studied a popular music course at Salford Tech before moving to London to be part of the music business. He really hasn’t stopped since!

Ash’s incredible career in the recording industry has so far seen him play on over 60 Top 10 albums, including on ‘Set fire to the Rain’ from Adele’s 21 and the Alicia Keys’ track Underdog. His vast discography also includes the Wanted, Fleur East, James Arthur and Dua Lipa’s new album ‘future Nostalgia’.

Amongst the many, many, acts he has toured with are  Marianne Faithful, Sinead O’Connor, Sheryl Crow, Robbie Williams, James Morrison, Will Young and most recently Tori Amos. Ash played at Woodstock ’94 with Del Amitri where they also supported The Rolling Stones, REM, Bon Jovi, Van Halen and Oasis.

Currently Ash is a member of the British supergroup ‘Producers/The Trevor Horn Band’ and as of 2020, he is again a member of Del Amitri. In 2022 he will be touring with Tori Amos.

We are so happy that Ash is one of our alumni, and incredibly proud of his musical achievements. He is a true inspiration to our young musicians.

Brogan Ashley – Administration Assistant

Brogan is the first person that you will meet when you come to The Grove School, but you may not realise that she truly is part of the fabric of our school. She was student here from 2009 until 2016 and has worked with us ever since!

After studying for her GCSE’s, Brogan stayed on at Sixth Form and studied Business Studies and Health and Social Care. Although she tells us maths was never her strongest subject, with lots of determination and resilience Brogan made sure she achieved it before she left, in fact she had great success at Sixth Form, achieving starred distinctions in her subjects.

Brogan has many positive memories of The Grove School and feels very lucky to be working alongside lots of her memorable teachers. She loved PE lessons and has fond memories of school life.

 ‘I always enjoyed Sports Day and being part of the Netball and Rounders Teams meant that I had the opportunity to visit different schools for fixtures. Because of this, I developed a good relationship with the PE Staff. I am lucky to be able to work with Mr Barber and Mr Littleford today!

However, my time at The Grove School wouldn’t be complete without Mrs Martin. She was always there for me and was always happy to answer the silly questions that my friend and I had. I am also incredibly lucky to still work with Mrs Martin.’

After Sixth Form Brogan knew that work, rather than university was what she wanted, but she was initially unsure of what this would be.  She did know that she wanted a job close to home and with people that she was comfortable with. ‘I decided to apply for a couple of very different jobs to see what I enjoyed doing’. What started as a part time admin job at Grove became a full-time role and as Brogan says, ‘I am now the first face that you see when you walk into the school!’

She currently works as an Administration Assistant and is the first point of contact whose many roles include speaking to parents, visitors, staff, and students, arranging meetings, administering First Aid, Reprographics, and of course being the friendly face of reception. Brogan has a unique perspective and does find it interesting to see how the school runs after being a student here for so long.

Away from work Brogan is a real home bird and loves nothing more than an evening in with her family for their traditional ‘takeaway night’. She is also an avid reader: ‘I’m a big bookworm so love snuggling down in the evenings with a blanket, cup of tea and a good book.’

The Grove School really is a huge part of Brogan’s life, with both of her brothers having attended here, as well as her fiancé (This is where they met!) ‘I’m very lucky to have made amazing friendships from my time at The Grove School, including my best friend of 12 years!’

Brogan is open to whatever the future holds and doesn’t believe we should have to have a set life plan:

‘My career aspirations remain a mystery and I feel like this is something that needs to be normalised! I am very content with my current role so will take anything that comes at me as a surprise! I am getting married in a couple of years’ time. After this, I would like to see the world as much as possible with my then husband. During the school holidays, of course!’

We can’t ever imagine Grove without Brogan.

Sir Peter Housden KCB

As a founding student at The Grove School in September 1965, Sir Peter is our most longstanding alumnus. We are glad to say that he has kept in contact with us and remains a supporter of the Grove to this day. Alongside his extensive career in education and government, Peter has authored several books including ‘The Passing of a Country Grammar School’ where his belief in the comprehensive school system and support for the Grove is clear

‘The Grove School gave me an outstanding education and sent me into the world with confidence and a sense of the future’.

Peter left The Grove School in July 1969 and took up a position as a Technical Apprentice at Universal Grinding in Stafford before attending the University of Essex where he graduated in 1973 with a 1st Class Honours degree in Sociology.

After university, Peter started his career as a schoolteacher here in Shropshire, before working as an education officer in three county authorities. He was appointed as Director of Education at Nottinghamshire County Council before becoming their Chief Executive in 1994, serving for 7 years and overseeing a wide-ranging programme of modernisation.

Peter joined the Civil Service in 2001 as Director-General for Schools and served as Permanent Secretary in ODPM and from 2010-15 in the Scottish Government through the referendum on independence.

Peter is now retired and serves as a Trustee of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and Chair of the Civil Service Club. He is also the Membership Secretary of Harpenden Writers Group. He enjoys books, golf, and spending time with his four grandchildren though preferably not all at once.. He was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2010.

Rowan Cookson

Rowan was a student at The Grove School from 2010 – 2017, studying A levels in History, Spanish, and Chemistry as well as AS level English and an EPQ. Following great success at Grove Sixth Form (3 A*s and 2 As!) Rowan went on to read History at Cambridge University, completing a Master’s degree there in 2021.

Whilst at The Grove School, Rowan has memories of many great teachers and particularly Miss Jones, her enthusiastic teacher of history for all seven years! It is no surprise that she went on to study for a history degree herself.

When she is not working Rowan has been a member of Girlguiding for 14 years and volunteers with a charity which supports members of the refugee community in learning English.

We are delighted that Rowan has now returned to The Grove School where she is working as a cover supervisor and continues to inspire our school community. Her advice to all students is to first and foremost look after their mental and physical health. Wise words.