OW Spotlight Freddie Coughlin

Talbot '22

Student at the University of St Andrews

Can you please tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

I’m a very recent Old Wellingtonian (Head of College, 2022). Since leaving, I have taken a gap year where I am gaining experience in different avenues of Politics and International Relations ahead of starting my studies in International Relations at St Andrew’s in September 2023. During my five years in the Talbot I took part in lots of the Co-Curricular; as a scholar for both Music and Drama I enjoyed performing in many musicals and plays, as well as playing trumpet in bands and singing in the choir. I am also a passionate (if not talented) hockey player, captaining the 2nd XI whilst at school and since leaving I’ve joined Richmond Hockey Club. It was a privilege to be Head of College along with Alice Timberlake (C 22) working towards bringing the school back closer together after the fragmentation COVID had inflicted.

Since leaving Wellington in 2022 you have interned and volunteered for some incredible organisations, can you tell us more about this past year?

In Sixth Form, I became driven by understanding current affairs and global issues and the ways in which governments (and non-governmental bodies) sought to address them. I decided that I wanted to build a gap year of experiences which would build my understanding and support my further study in this area. It can be split into three:

– Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Public and Government Affairs Department: From September to Christmas I worked as an intern at Enterprise. The role enabled me to get involved in local and national policy, and I had valuable experience as we fostered industry partnerships to support decarbonising transport through shared mobility solutions and shifting away from private car ownership.

– Brass for Africa, Media and Partnerships Department: from Christmas onwards, I worked for four months in Kampala, Uganda, as a volunteer/intern at Brass for Africa. Brass for Africa provides music and life skills education to over 1,500 participants from marginalised groups across Uganda, such as refugees, people living with disabilities and children from informal settlements. My role was to bring the stories from the outreaches alive for a global audience of donors, partners, supporters and future supporters! To do this, we used both written and audio visual media across our website and social media platforms. During my four months I also mentored the new (and only) member of the Africa-side media/marketing department so that she had full executive and practical skills to continue the work we had done together. Highlights included surpassing the funding targets and expectations on March’s Gender Equality campaign and reporting on outreaches across Uganda such as on Lake Victoria’s islands which suffer from extreme HIV/AIDS rates, and to the South Sudan border in Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement working with residents of one of the world’s largest refugee settlements.

– Big Trees: Finally, I worked for urban tree conservation charity Big Trees, living in Bangkok and working in a similar media role to my previous experiences. The charity has been looking to increase their English language presence online, and so I wrote reports, rewrote existing content and created digital designs to aid their growth towards international partners and English-speaking supporters within Thailand.

What are you doing now?

After my stint with Big Trees in Bangkok, I decided to stay in South East Asia to travel in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. (I’m currently writing this in a tree-house whilst trekking in a northern Laos jungle!). After travel, I will just have to make sure I get on the right plane back to the UK in time for the start of university at St Andrew’s.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I’ve loved living and working in different countries, including Belgium, where my family lived when I arrived at Wellington, and also more recently in Uganda. So hopefully I’ll be living somewhere interesting in the future. I’ve still got an open mind on careers, but I do want to explore different avenues of international journalism, development or maybe the Foreign Office.

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

Very tough question, but I suppose right now as my gap year nears conclusion, I’d reflect on my decision to take one in the first place. I sought advice from an older family friend, his advice, delicately put, was to get out of the bubble, take a gap year, and then start planning it early. I’d definitely recommend a gap year, but completely understand people’s reasons for not taking one. If you are thinking of doing one, ‘starting to think about what you’d want to get out of it early’ was definitely advice I’d pass on. This is not to say a last-minute gap year can’t be just as fruitful, it just might mean you have to pull everything together more quickly!

Looking back on your time at Wellington, what are you most proud of and why?

I’m very proud of the work Alice Timberlake (C 22) and I did as Heads of College. One thing in particular was creating a whole-school event: The Duke’s Games, which has had its second year of competition this year.

Do you have a fond memory from your time at Wellington that you would like to share or perhaps a particular teacher that really stood out?

Fondest memory has to be my regular DukeBox Radio slot on Thursdays at 6pm, hosting ‘The Wanderers’ show along with Ben Trunck (T 22) and Tom Allen-Ellis (T 22). It was our answer to I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue, playing our favourite music, and in our year of shows we entertained literally tens of people. I also enjoyed bringing commentary to certain sports events (such as the new Friday Night Lights evenings) and am pleased to see that broadcasting is still at the heart of College life.

Thanks to Freddie Coughlin (T 22) for this spotlight piece.