Cherwell School alumni are called Cherwellians. Here are some past students:

Polly Chase

Novelist & Journalist

Cherwell Student (Completed A Levels in 1990)

Polly Chase worked as a journalist for women’s magazines and national newspapers for many years and now writes novels under the name Eve Chase. She is published in the UK by Michael Joseph, Penguin Books, and her novels have been translated into many languages. Black Rabbit Hall won the Saint Maur en Poche Best Foreign Fiction Novel prize in France, 2019. The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde was longlisted for the HWA Gold Crown Prize, 2018. Her new novel, The Glass House comes out in May 2020.

Ben Werdmuller

Tech startup founder & investor

Cherwell student 1992 – 1997

Ben founds, invests, and develops technology startups for social good. His first web platform was used by organizations like Oxfam and the World Bank for teaching and learning. His second helped journalists quickly send video footage back from locations like Syria and Air Force One. He was the Director of Investments at Matter, which invested in media startups in partnership with institutions like the AP and the New York Times. He was also a senior engineer at Medium and the Geek in Residence at the Edinburgh Festivals. He currently lives and works in San Francisco.

Will Wiles

Novelist & Journalist

Completed his sixth form with Cherwell in 1996

Today Will Wiles is a successful novelist, his third novel Plume published in 2019 by HarperCollins. Will is an architecture and design journalist, and was deputy editor of “Icon”, a leading British design magazine. His writing has appeared in “Cabinet”, “New Statesman”, and other publications.

Carrie Quinlan

Actor & Writer

Cherwell student 1992-94 (sixth form)

Carrie works as an actor in theatre, radio and television. She’s just appeared in the eighth series of John Finnemore’s Souvenir Programme, and plays the host on Agendum, both on Radio 4. Most recently she’s appeared on stage in Orpheus Descending by Tennessee Williams, and on television in Home for Channel 4. Carrie’s written for comedy for shows including Dave Gorman’s Modern Life is Goodish, Tracey Ullman’s Show and That Mitchell & Webb Sound.

Kate Whitley

Composer & Pianist

Cherwell student

Kate runs The Multi-Story Orchestra, which performs in car parks around the UK: “forget fusty concert halls, the future of music is emerging in a municipal car park” (The Times). She writes music for orchestras, choirs and instrumentalists. Her music has been broadcast on Radio 3 and performed as part of the BBC Proms. Her piece Speak Out To Words by Nobel prize winner Malala Yousafzai was commissioned by the BBC for International Women’s Day 2017 in support of the campaign for better education for girls. Winning a 2018 Critics Circle Award, she has been described as a composer with “a strong, distinctive voice who, without compromising, communicates directly to a wide audience, within the concert hall and beyond”.

Bertie Baigent

Composer & Conductor

Cherwell student

Bertie was already winning prizes in the Sixth Form (read more here). He trained as a cellist, pianist and organist, before reading Music at Cambridge, graduating with a double first. In June 2022 he won the Grand Prix, Classical Prize, and Symphonic Prize at the International Conducting Competition Rotterdam. He has also been Music Director of Waterperry Opera Festival since 2017, and is Assistant Conductor with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Baigent’s compositions have been widely performed internationally, and he has been awarded commissions and prizes by institutions including the Royal Philharmonic Society and the BBC. His works have been performed in the Royal Festival Hall, Washington National Cathedral, and the Britten Studio by ensembles including the Choir of St Paul’s Cathedral. He is currently collaborating with the director and playwright Joseph Winters on an operatic adaption of John Milton’s Paradise Lost, which will be premiered in 2022.

Tom Poster


Cherwell student

Tom studied at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and King’s College, Cambridge. He has been described as “a marvel, [who] can play anything in any style” (The Herald), and as having “a beautiful tone that you can sink into like a pile of cushions” (BBC Music). He has performed over 40 concertos from Mozart to Ligeti with Aurora Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, BBC Scottish Symphony, China National Symphony, Royal Philharmonic and many more. He has premiered solo, chamber and concertante works by leading composers, and has made multiple appearances at the BBC Proms. Tom has recorded albums for BIS, Chandos, Decca, and more. He regularly features as soloist on film soundtracks, including the Oscar-nominated score for The Theory of Everything. Tom’s compositions and arrangements have been commissioned, performed and recorded by Alison Balsom, Matthew Rose, and Yo-Yo Ma. Photo: Jason Joyce

Anya De Villiers


Cherwell student

Anya is a South African who in 2016 was at the National Youth Music Theatre, and from 2017 studied at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (BA) Acting Musical Theatre. She has played several roles in productions at Central, including Lady Macbeth (2019), Cora in Anyone Can Whistle (2019), Boudica (2019) and Medea (2018).

Liam Taylor-West

Composer & Creator of Audiovisual Artworks

Cherwell student

Liam was the recipient of the 2018 Ivors Composer Award in the Community or Educational Project category for The Umbrella, and has had his music performed by ensembles such as the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, National Open Youth Orchestra and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. His two-volume composition Backdrops is used to underscore the BBC Radio 3 show Night Tacks, presented by Sara Mohr-Pietsch and Hannah Peel, and his orchestral piece A Slow Breath appears as part of the BBC Sounds podcast The Music and Meditation Podcast. Liam is working towards a Doctoral Degree in Composition at the Royal College of Music in London, supported by an RCM Studentship, and during his time there has studied with William Mival, Mark-Anthony Turnage, Nico Muhly, Catherine Kontz and Gilbert Nouno, amongst others. He is an advocate of the use of creative technology in composition and performance, and is a Resident at Watershed’s Pervasive Media Studio, in Bristol.

Jake Halsey-Jones


Cherwell student

Jake is a London-based actor appearing in Hamilton’s current production as a Swing/cover Alexander Hamilton, cover John Laurens and Philip Hamilton. He trained in Musical Theatre at the Arts Educational Schools, London, and graduated in 2018. Jake’s experience as a performer includes playing the role of Riff in West Side Story (Vivo D’arte, 2017), Choir in The Olivier Awards at The Royal Albert Hall (2018), Chino in West Side Story (BBC Proms, 2018), Melchior in Spring Awakening (Vivo D’arte, 2019), Dylan in Worlds Apart (Three Pin Productions, 2020) and Ensemble in 42 Balloons (recording, 2020). Photo: Michael Carlo

Other Cherwell alumni include:

We’re starting to plan a number of special events for alumni, so if you have been a student at Cherwell at any point during the last sixty years, we’d love to hear from you:

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