Latest Icenian Interview – Phil

Phil was at Langley between 1991 and 1996, before studying HND Agriculture at Cranfield University. Here we hear about his experiences, from fond memories of Langley to making the move to being self-employed.

Phil GarnhamWhich extra-curricular activities were you involved in during your school days?
House Speaking / Public Speaking – this is something that Langley had us all doing at a very early age and, to be honest, this has been the thing that I credit Langley with more than anything else. Being able to stand up and give presentations in front of 150 farmers or a dozen delegates from the Kazakhstan Poultry Commission is something that I enjoy doing even at a moment’s notice.

‘I am often asked if going to Langley made a difference. Looking back, it was a privilege to be at such a place. A lovely setting and great facilities.’

How did your career begin?
At school, we had two different career tests, one during our GCSE’s and one during our A–Levels; I answered both thinking that I wanted to join the Police but the results came back as farmer. Despite my best efforts at trying to convince the career computers that I would make a really good Police Officer, I did indeed take their selected choice and went to Agriculture college at Cranfield University. When I left, the family farm couldn’t afford to have me come onboard and so I went into the world of grain merchanting. In 1999, I joined the largest trading company of its kind, Cargill plc, and spent the early parts of my career learning the ropes and how things are done. Then, over time, I moved on to becoming a trader for the likes of Frontier and dealing with buyers for the likes of Coors, Suntory and Diageo – who own nearly all the known brands of Beers and Spirits.

So far, what have been your post-school highlights?
Getting married, having a family, going self-employed and still being able to provide for everyone…just, thanks COVID.

What advice you would give to students considering their A-Levels or careers?
Take A Levels that interest YOU. Not ones that are fashionable or your mates are doing. It’s an intense two years and you will find parts of it tough, so you will need to love the subject to push through the times when you wonder what on earth you are doing!

It’s an over quoted line, ‘do a job you love and you won’t have to work a day in your life,’ which is easy to say if you are a millionaire but there is an element of truth to it. No one gets the job they want straightaway and it often takes time but don’t lose focus for the job you want. Also, don’t move jobs for the sake of moving because employers don’t like to see people moving jobs every two years, they want someone who will stay the course.

What’s your fondest memory of Langley?
Passing my A-Level Biology and the reaction of Gerry Frost when he saw my grade – he knew how hard I had worked and was genuinely thrilled for me.

Being made a School Prefect and helping deal with potential issues of bullying – I took my position very seriously.

The house sports competitions – I played in goal during the hockey tournament for Crome. I had never played in that position before and spent the afternoon kicking lumps out of Richard Fox and Simon Turner. Wonderful stuff.

Final thoughts
I am often asked if going to Langley made a difference. Looking back, it was a privilege to be at such a place. A lovely setting and great facilities. I met my best mate at Langley. Grant Amerigo was my best man and is my son’s Godfather.

I was at Beech Hill, which was then Langley Junior School, and the Headmaster was a quintessential English gentleman, Eric Streatfield. He insisted, that we ALWAYS stood up when a lady entered the room, we should raise our caps when greeting a parent and that we should always hold the door open for others. Simple but lovely values.

I’d really like to know what the likes of Richard Fox and Simon Turner are getting up to. We were the only three to sit A-Level history!

Published On: April 30th, 2021Categories: Icenians, News