Attention: You are using an outdated browser, device or you do not have the latest version of JavaScript downloaded and so this website may not work as expected. Please download the latest software or switch device to avoid further issues.

In The Spotlight > In The Spotlight > In the Spotlight: Helen Rees-Bidder

In the Spotlight: Helen Rees-Bidder

Former BMS Director of Performance Arts, Helen Rees-Bidder (1989-2014) is in the spotlight this month.

What did you do before you worked at BMS?   

I taught at Stratton Upper School before teaching at BMS. It was my first teaching job. I stayed there for two years and some of the people I worked with had a profound effect on my whole career. The headmaster, Brian Farman, was always so encouraging and supportive of his young staff. I did three productions in my two years at Stratton - Grease was my favourite because the students were so enthusiastic and motivated as the School hadn’t done a production for years. We had a tiny budget but it really didn’t matter. I still keep in touch with some of those students today.  

Tell us about what you do now. Has your time at the school influenced your life today?  

I left teaching when I left BMS. I was a senior examiner for both UK and international awarding bodies for many years while I was a Head of Faculty and the work was taking up more and more of my time. I was offered opportunities to travel extensively to train teachers around the world, take part in conferences, and also to write books for teachers and students. Eventually I decided to take the plunge and work as a freelance. Since then, I have been really busy. I’ve travelled a lot and worked with amazing teachers in over 30 countries, written three books, forged friendships with fellow trainers and marked a lot of exam scripts. I have kept in contact with schools through an advisory role as an English consultant so still get to work with students occasionally. I do miss the drama though! My 25 years at BMS has influenced me massively. I loved the School and still do. The Performance Arts Faculty, in particular, taught me the huge importance of working as a cohesive and driven team, and also the importance of discovering and nurturing talent in young people.  

 Tell us about your time at BMS. Do you have any special memories you would like to share?  

I felt at home at BMS from the first moment I arrived. The staff common room was really special when I arrived in 1989, and I immediately became firm friends with some of the legends such as Digger Roberts and Chris Nicholson. The English department was great fun, and I learnt a huge amount from sharing A level sets with brilliant teachers. Hilary Ryan was the first female Chair of the Common Room the year I arrived, and we became very close friends at BMS and beyond. One special memory is the rebellion for female staff to attend the OBM dinner for the first time in 1990. There were only about nine female staff in the Senior School and we weren’t invited so we all decided to sign our names on the invitation list posted in the common room for the male staff to sign up for the event. It caused an emergency meeting, but we won largely due to the massive support from our male colleagues in the common room. I have too many special memories of productions to mention any particular ones. The cast parties were legendary. 

Who was someone from your time at BMS who had an impact on you and why?   

Mostly my colleagues in performance arts. It was an amazing faculty where everyone worked really hard. In reality Nick Parker ran the faculty - without him I’d have been pretty useless as he always reminded me to get the dull things done as well as the fun ones. His amazing design skills made BMS productions so special and I am pleased that they still do. I also loved doing musicals with John Mower - he was a really special friend and colleague when I was at BMS. We had a very similar sense of humour but got wound up by very similar things too. It was good to have a colleague to laugh and moan with simultaneously.  

What do you do like to do in your spare time?  

To be honest I get very little spare time - being freelance means no more long school holidays. I like to travel and am fortunate that I get opportunities to travel widely for my work. So when I get a day off overseas, I try to do something interesting so that I get to see the place rather than just the training room.        

What advice would you give to your younger self?  

Know your worth - don’t rely on other people for that.        

 Are there any other thoughts you would like to share with the OBM and BMS community?  

I think students at BMS are really lucky to attend a school which values, nurtures, and invests in talent. My advice is always to study the subjects you love rather than the ones that can lead you down a particular career path. That way you’ll always end up in the right place and, most importantly, you’ll be happy. 


Similar stories

This website is powered by