Gail Southward (1988)
Music and Class Teacher (Prep)
“For more than 20 years I have been giving back to the alumni community as an expression of my gratitude for all that Trinity Hall gave to me.”
How do you look back on your time at Trinity Hall?
With great fondness, nostalgia and gratitude. It was a privilege and an honour to attend a University and College of such high renown, history and prestige. During my time there, I was always very aware of the footsteps that had trodden the staircases and cloisters over the past hundreds of years; footsteps of pioneers and leaders, innovators and life-changers. I felt I owed it to these people to ensure that I didn’t take a single moment for granted and that I lived the experience to the full. I wanted to leave my own mark and fly the flag for Trinity Hall thereafter. To this end, I have served on the Committee of The Oxford and Cambridge Society of Hong Kong for more than 20 years, giving back to the alumni community as an expression of my gratitude for all that Trinity Hall gave to me. I have organised countless alumni functions, such as distinguished speaker dinners, Annual Garden Party and other social and fund-raising events. I sit on the Varsity Ball Committee of which I was Co-Chair in 2015, when we raised a record-breaking amount for the Scholarship Fund, enabling current Oxbridge students to engage in meaningful welfare, educational and environmental projects in developing countries. I also work closely with the University Alumni network and helped at the ‘Dear World’ gala dinner in Hong Kong last year.
It was at Trinity Hall that I learnt to row and cox, unexpectedly finding myself quite addicted to the sport. Upon arrival in Hong Kong, I immediately joined the Rowing Section of Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club and participated for many years in local and overseas regattas. I now organise Hong Kong’s own version of the Boat Race, with varsity alumni crews fighting it out on the open sea.
I thrived on the intellectual and passionate discussions with my fellow housemates, to say nothing for the time I spent laughing, bantering and sharing experiences, about which we still reminisce today.
Why did you choose to study for a PGCE?
I needed a PGCE qualification in order to qualify as a teacher, which is all I had ever wanted to do since an early age. I chose my undergraduate subjects (Religious Studies and English) from an intellectual viewpoint. One of my most stimulating courses was comparing the role of women in present day Islam to during the time of Mohammed. I also enjoyed a course examining the impact of blaming Eve for the sin of the whole of humanity and the interplay between religion and politics – all very pertinent issues then and now.
Who are your female role models?
My mother was my first female role model and my first experience of feminism. In many ways she was ahead of her time with her knowledge and practice of nutrition, yoga, recycling, music and gender equality.
Another highly influential woman in my life was my school music teacher. My career as a music teacher was unquestionable inspired by her. She taught me how to strive for the highest standard of music from my pupils and inject their learning with passion and humour.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Apply to Cambridge as an undergraduate!