Hilary Wells (née Dresser) joined the Business School at Kingston Polytechnic in 1988 and graduated from Kingston University in 1992 with a BSc(Hons) in Business Information Technology (BIT). A former Olympic canoeist, she is back at Kingston working part-time as a communications consultant.
Camaraderie, pizza and graduation day.
It was a bit touch and go at the beginning – I had just left Millfield School and although my sporting and social CV was A1, my academic one wasn't. A friend of mine was already on the BIT course. She would show me all the worksheets she would have to do and it really looked fun so I gave the University a call. The course was oversubscribed but I got in and learnt a good lesson; be persistent if it's something you really want.
I started canoeing when I left school. I progressed quite quickly and in 1992 I was selected for the British canoe team for the Barcelona Olympics. Walking out into the stadium at the opening ceremony in Barcelona is the proudest moment of my life.
I particularly remember Stuart FitzGerald and Walter Skok; they were both great. They helped me balance my studies and my sport. It's a big challenge trying to do both and as a student you really need support.
I worked for British Aerospace on my work placement and got a taste for the big corporate environment. I went on to work at SEEBOARD plc and IBM. I left IBM when I had my son and started up as a freelancer. I now work as a freelance communications specialist. I've worked with local businesses, large PR companies and sports stars. Currently I am back at Kingston, working in external communications.
When I'm not working I spend time with my husband Paul, who is my absolute rock. He was also a pretty good canoeist himself winning the World Championships in marathon canoeing. Our son Harry, nine, is also, not surprisingly, sporty so we enjoy keeping fit together.
Yes. I met my two best friends at Kingston. They were also on the BIT course – Jane Marsh and Becky Shepherd (née Lee), and we've met every couple of months since 1992.
I would have had my parents closer. They worked for the Foreign Office and my brother and I were at boarding school from the ages of eight to 18. We only saw them in the holidays, in whatever country they lived in at the time.
I would be on the river early to miss the rowers – canoeists hate rowers as they go backwards and never see us – then have lunch in a riverside cafe with Paul and Harry. On Sunday I'd watch Harry play rugby, and then go to the movies with girlfriends in the evening.
I can do the Rubik's cube and I play the piano and the clarinet.
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