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With Thanks

'With Thanks' from OB Charlotte Cullen ('11 -'18)
Charlotte Cullen at Kennedy's Law Firm in Sheffield
Charlotte Cullen at Kennedy's Law Firm in Sheffield

I joined Birkenhead School in 2011, starting in Year 7. Due to the kindness and sheer generosity of donors, I was eligible to be the recipient of a bursary which covered 80% of my fees. Without this, I wouldn’t have been able to come to Birkenhead, so it inspired me to make the most of an outstanding, focused, and tailored education programme that I might not have received at another school.

Throughout my years as a pupil, I fully immersed myself academically and through extra-curricular activities. Mainly participating in sport, I was Netball captain from Year 7-10 and enjoyed being a member of various other teams. I was also active within the Music Department, performing as part of the ‘Cantata Choir’ and receiving regular piano lessons. However, the highlight was my appointment as Head of School in 2017. This was the greatest honour I had received to date, and I strove to use this position to both add value to the school but also to give back as I had received so much time, support, and dedication from staff throughout my school career. From this, year upon year, I grew, matured, and was challenged to be the best I could be. This is something which has stayed with me throughout my professional career so far. Birkenhead has also taught me the art of resilience, one of the most important attributes that I believe a person can have, and for which I am so grateful.

At such a young age, it is difficult to decide exactly what you want to do with the rest of your life, but through extensive support from the careers service and subject teachers during Sixth Form, I finally decided I wanted to study Law at University. Upon receiving an offer from the University of Sheffield, I moved in 2018 and quickly discovered that I wanted to pursue a career in Law, as a Solicitor, after graduating. Due to both the exceptional academic standards and unwavering support that was afforded to me, Birkenhead School provided so many opportunities during my time that allowed me to be at the top of my game when applying for prospective job openings. As you may well know, the process for receiving a training contract is extremely competitive, with many applicants applying for a handful of places.

With just one place available, and after a gruelling seven stage recruitment process, I was offered the training contract with a Law firm in Sheffield called Kennedys. During feedback, I was informed that I had stood out from my competitors due to my experience, skills, and resilience, which had largely been shaped by my time at Birkenhead. Kennedys have been kind enough to fund my Solicitors Qualifying Exam, which I am completing part-time, whilst working in the Healthcare department. In just less than two and a half years, I will be a fully qualified Solicitor.

Starting in late September this year, I have primarily worked on clinical negligence claims for our biggest client; NHS Resolution, but I also have worked for private healthcare clients such as Spire, and Nuffield Health. There is a common stereotype of big law firms that their junior staff are mistreated in the sense that they are forced to work long hours with little exposure to work. However, in just under two months, I have aided on multi-million-pound cases and have had the opportunity to shadow lawyers in many instances, such as at inquests and other external conferences with the Courts.

Looking back, I feel so grateful for my time at Birkenhead School. From the unparalleled academic standards and personal support to the wealth of extra-curricular opportunities, Birkenhead has provided me with a plethora of skills and attributes to become not only professionally successful but a well-rounded person. Without the continued support and generosity from donors like mine, I can say with absolute certainty I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Charlotte Cullen (‘11-’18)

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