Ex Balshavian Graham Brown left the school in 1976 before going on to Runshaw and then university to study engineering which has kept him gainfully employed ever since! This year (2021) marks 50 years since he started at Balshaw's. His Mum is still with us, and, this year is celebrating 80 years since she started. Both Graham’s brother, Martyn, and sister, Pam, attended Balshaw’s too and Pam’s name is on a plaque in the Main Hall.
He was fortunate in deciding on his chosen career early on and hence he was able to select subject options which would stand him in good stead for A-levels and beyond. He has thoroughly enjoyed over 40 years in the profession and has absolutely no intention of retiring any time soon! He is keen to encourage pupils who are perhaps thinking about taking up engineering as a profession; to try and break down any gender barriers and points out that although the profession is still male-dominated, it is very much a profession which many women are now choosing.
His brother, Martyn, is also an ex Balshavian and was two academic years ahead of Graham. At a parents' evening, Mr. Winstanley, who taught maths at the time, posed a question to their parents: "Have you thought about Martyn trying for Cambridge?" To cut a long story short, he sat the entrance exam and went to Churchill College to study engineering. Two years later, Graham followed in his footsteps and also read engineering at Churchill. It seemed like a logical thing to do since he could use his brother’s old text books! A few years later, they bumped into Mr. Winstanley up at Rivington after he'd retired. He still remembered them both and they certainly remembered him. His foresight paved both their academic careers. It's perhaps unfair to single out a teacher. In their formative years it is the whole school which develops a pupil. He has fond memories of Balshaw's, many of which are posted on the 1976 school leavers Facebook page to the amusement of his peers!
Graham now lives in Berkshire, but throughout his career he’s worked in 24 countries. Eight years ago, he gave up a good engineering position in order to become self-employed to gain experience and apply himself in a greater range of engineering disciplines. As a result of this decision, he has undertaken work for Boeing, Glastonbury Festival, Adele, Take That, Little Mix, Mercedes Benz (Grand Prix Team), Warner Bros, Disney, Paramount, Harry Potter (Stage) and working as a consultant for Ferrari's next F1 racing simulator. He has been fortunate in that his work has not been affected. Of the current projects, the film "Infinite" is out this summer and his work on the Ferrari simulator is all but complete.
His career shows that engineering doesn't just mean working in a factory. The film work exemplifies the application of engineering in special effects. Graham has made Wonder Woman fly and built the control system which allowed Aladdin to ride around on his magic carpet! His job involves quite a bit of maths. It's ironic that in a recent project for the forthcoming film "Infinite", which required building a system to move a 35-tonne aircraft fuselage around, some of the calculations Graham had to do were not taught at Cambridge nor at Runshaw but at Balshaw's, he says: “Thank you Mr. Winstanley”.