Alton School


We are honoured to welcome our distinguished Patrons to the school community. Many of our Patrons have also contributed to our Inspirational Speaker Programme.

Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Jocelyn Bell Burnell achieved international acclaim early in her career as a research student at Cambridge University. During this time she played a leading role in the discovery of pulsars, opening up a new branch of astrophysics – work which was recognised by the award of a Nobel Prize to her supervisor. She has been credited by her peers as being responsible for ‘the greatest astronomical discovery of the twentieth century.’

Numerous award such as the Oppenheimer prize, the Michelson medal, the Tinsley prize and the Magellanic Premium have been awarded to her by learned bodies in the US and the UK’s Royal Astronomical Society has presented her with the Herschel Medal. UK and US universities have conferred honorary doctorates on her, and she holds an Honorary Fellowship in New Hall (now Murray Edwards College), Cambridge.

She has served on or serviced a multitude of research boards and councils, including as President of the Royal Astronomical Society and in 2008 she became the first female President of the Institute of Physics. A Fellow of the Royal Society, she was voted one of the top 100 most powerful women in the UK by BBC Radio 4 Women’s hour in 2013.

In 2004 she moved from Dean of Science at the University of Bath to her current Visiting Professorship at the University of Oxford and a Professorial Fellowship at Mansfield College, Oxford. For ten years she was Professor of Physics at the Open University, and had a year as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Princeton University, USA.

In September 2018 Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, a visiting professor at Oxford University, was chosen by a panel of leading scientists to receive the $3m (£2.3m) special Breakthrough prize (widely considered to be the Oscars of the science community) in fundamental physics for her landmark work on pulsars and a lifetime of inspiring leadership in the scientific community.

Jocelyn Bell Burnell is passionate about promoting science to females.


Dawn Bonfield

Dawn Bonfield is a Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor of Inclusive Engineering at Aston University, and Founder & Director of Towards Vision, a Company which aims to work towards a vision of diversity and inclusion in engineering. She is Past President and former Chief Executive of the Women’s Engineering Society (WES), and in 2018 is an Ambassador for the Year of Engineering, promoting engineering careers through a roadshow aimed at meeting parents. She is co-founder of IncEng, a platform to bring together under-represented groups in engineering.
Whilst at WES in 2014 Dawn was the founder of National Women in Engineering Day (now International Women in Engineering Day) and in 2015 established the inaugural 50 Women in Engineering List with the Daily Telegraph. She established and still runs the Magnificent Women outreach project and website, celebrating our historical women in engineering. Dawn is a STEM Ambassador and regularly promotes engineering and materials in schools.
A materials engineer by profession – having studied Materials Science at Bath University – Dawn has worked at AERE Harwell, Citroen Research Centre (Paris), British Aerospace (Bristol), MBDA (Stevenage), and the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (London).
Dawn received an MBE in 2016 for ‘Services to the promotion of diversity in engineering’.
In 2015 Dawn won a WISE Award and an Association Congress Award for the INWED campaign, and in 2016 she won the SEMTA award for Diversity in Engineering. In 2016 she was a finalist in the GEDC Airbus Global Diversity Award, and in 2017 she won the Women’s Business Council STEM ‘Starting Out’ award.

Dawn commented, ‘There is something very special about the pupils at Alton School, beyond their clear academic aptitude. There is a quiet confidence, and a wonderful manner. A unique atmosphere and sense of community pervades the school.’’

Jessica Leigh Jones

In 2012 Jessica became the first female to win the UK Young Engineer of the Year Award for designing a portable electronic foetal contraction monitor in conjunction with Cardiff-based company Huntleigh Healthcare diagnostics. After developing a more versatile fibre optic sensor she was awarded the 2012 IET Intel Inspiration Award for Entrepreneurship. Jessica has patent pending status for this technology and is currently attempting to commercialise it.

Jessica’s background lies in electronics but she is currently reading Astrophysics at Cardiff University. Her main research interests include fibre optics and LASER technology.

Jessica is employed as a Research Associate for Morgan-Botti Lightning Laboratory in the Cardiff University School of Engineering. The lab generates artificial lightning using electrical currents of up to 200,000A (more than 30,000 times the amount used to power a kettle!). The lab’s main research interests include investigating the direct-effects of lightning currents on aerospace materials and components, and contributing to the safety of new aircraft designs.

In her spare time Jessica likes to train at her local Shotokan Karate club. Discipline is an important aspect of her work and personal life. When the weather’s great she also likes to go out observing with her optical telescope.

Jessica delivered an eloquent and impassioned keynote during the national launch of the Women’s Engineering Society’s outreach programme for schools, which took place at Alton School.

Raj Long

Raj is an award-winning regulatory affairs expert in the global pharmaceutical sector; working as an adviser and speaker in international forums such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris. Raj presented at the recent G8 Change Summit on Dementia addressing a select audience which included Jeremy Hunt MP, David Cameron and the Health Ministers of the participating nations. We are proud to welcome Raj to the school community.

Rachel Morris

Double World and Paralympic Gold and Bronze medallist Rachel Morris has excelled internationally across a number sports. Rachel began her sporting career as a track athlete, sailor and latterly as a multiple medal winning hand cyclist. Rachel was recently scouted for the GB rowing team, achieving a World Cup silver within 7 months of training. Rachel always aspired to become an Olympian, and in spite of many challenges, never lost sight of her dreams. We were honoured that Rachel was a Patron of our Anniversary Appeal and honorary participant in Challenge 75.