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Sally Russell (Pike)

Sally Russell (nee Pike)

After leaving the College, I studied French at the University of Southampton and spent a year teaching English in Provins, a medieval town east of Paris. I went on to work at a small freight-forwarding company at Heathrow, which specialised in the jewellery & antique trades. I spent 5 years running around the airport, meeting busy jewellers, antique dealers and Sotheby’s experts, clearing them through customs as quickly as possible. That was followed by several years in Hatton Garden, working as a shipping manager for one of my old jewellery clients.

I left that job when pregnant with my first son, as it didn’t seem viable to commute to London with a small baby and not what we wanted as a family. We lived in Maidenhead at the time and moved back to Farnham in 1997, prior to the birth of our second son.

It was quite strange moving back to Farnham at that point in our lives! Despite having family and friends in the area, I felt like a newcomer again. We lived in Abbots Ride, a stone’s throw from the old FGGS & FGS. My youngest son ended up going to a creche in the old Home Economics room of the College and both boys went to South Farnham Junior School, the former FGGS. I finally managed to walk in the Quad, a bone of contention of mine since we left in 1973, as only 6th formers had that privilege! Later on, I had a business teaching French and used our old 4S form-room/maths room in the Old Building for an after-school club – full circle!

Fast forward on to 2008 after a happy time looking after 2 boys, helping with my husband’s business and playing a lot of tennis at the Bourne Club, we had a major change in our lives and moved to Sweden. Having spent many years as an IT consultant in the telecoms business, my husband took a contract with Ericsson in Lund, an old university and cathedral city in southern Sweden. It was quite a leap of faith, but we were able to enrol our children in the local (free) international school and we settled in Helsingborg, just 4 km across the Öresund Strait from Denmark, where Hamlet’s Castle sits next to the harbour in Helsingör (Elsinore).

We’re still here and enjoying the Swedish way of life. It’s much calmer than the UK – the population only passed the 10 million mark in the last few years and the country is huge – and I enjoy the Scandinavian sense of respect for others, gender equality and support for families. Quality of life and work/life balance are high on the agenda, along with a love of nature and traditional festivities. Midsummer and crayfish parties have their own rituals, along with drinking songs and vast quantities of snapps. There is quite a prudish attitude to alcohol for the most part (we can only buy beer over 3.5% and all other alcohol from the state-run liquor store) and parents can be prosecuted if their under-age children drink at home, but all that disappears at party-time or on holidays!

After several years of involvement at the International School of Helsingborg (Parent Rep, PTA Chair, School Librarian, substitute teacher, etc), I have found my own niche by setting up a network for English-speaking internationals living in this area (www.hiconnections.eu), which is now funded by the local authorities. I had the opportunity to be part of an accelerator programme for social entrepreneurs in 2017 and as a result have had some interesting study visits and conferences in the Netherlands and Estonia, as well as closer to home. Social innovation, sustainability and finding ways of bringing people together have become my new raison d’être and keep me motivated!

I’m still in touch with several old school friends and have many happy memories from our time at school. Thanks for asking me to write this little blurb and best wishes to “everyone who knows me”!