School photo

David Vant

Lodge 1985

The School probably taught me more soft skills than academic skills, particularly in the Senior School.  I learnt to confront problems and not run away from them and also benefitted from the pastoral environment which underpinned a lot of what we did”

I joined the Junior School in 1974 as a boarder and loved St Lawrence from the outset. I found it fairly easy to make friends and settled quickly. There was a sense of belonging and I really enjoyed School life.  It certainly helped to foster my sense of independence.  The School probably taught me more soft skills than academic skills, particularly in the Senior School.  I learnt to confront problems and not run away from them and also benefited from the pastoral environment which underpinned a lot of what we did. In the senior school there was a wide variety of societies and activities in which to participate.  I dabbled with the CCF, photography and acting, taking part in House plays and the odd school play.  Non-speaking parts were my forte (!) or so I thought until playing a dual role as a giant squirrel and peanut butter making machine alongside Sid El Fadil (Alexander Siddig) in the Lodge version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  This led to a quick re-evaluation of my ability and I decided to stick with those things at which I was half decent.  Cricket remains a passion of mine and I still turn out regularly for my local village side despite losing my slot as the opening bowler only last year. Still leading wicket taker though!    

I went straight into banking after School.  Funnily enough I did a careers test when I was at school for which my parents paid the princely sum of £40. The test identified that I liked photography and travel and, perhaps rather unimaginatively, proposed that I become a travel photographer. Somebody more sensible mentioned banking which would have an element of travel and meeting people.  I got offered jobs at the main High Street banks (although I am still waiting to hear back from the Midland!) and accepted a post at NatWest.  I worked locally in Lending and in 1997 I accepted a position in the structured finance arm of NatWest in the City. There I helped establish the bank’s Leveraged Finance team.  I left NatWest in 1999 and then worked for a number of international banks.  I am still working in Leveraged Finance, currently with an Austrian bank called Erste A.G. where I head a team covering Western Europe.  The bank is headquartered in Vienna which requires fairly frequent trips.  There are far worse places to have a head office!  The market is flourishing albeit hugely aggressive but remains a fascinating place in which to work, despite ongoing geo-political risks, Brexit high amongst them.

My friendships at School were very binding.  One of my closest friends remains the person I sat next to on my very first day at Junior School aged just seven.  I remain close to a number of my old friends from both junior and senior school days.  Cricket, and more recently cycling, has added another common interest to help keep the old bonds tight. Nearly 45 years, in some cases, of reciprocal and incessant mickey taking with old mates has proved good for the mind!

Overall, I retain a lot of positive memories and I really enjoy hearing about the developments at the School and plans for the future.  I also like to return from time to time and be reminded of the past too.  Bizarrely the smell of the place evokes strong memories for me, none more so than a recent visit to the Junior School (the first time since leaving all those years ago) and crossing to the Far Side in the tunnel.   I still found myself running through it just as I did as a child fearing being caught by some bogeyman!  Nostalgia, good times and family is how I would summarise my experience of St Lawrence.  There is a bond, not based so much on academic achievement, but on togetherness and getting on with each other which remains pretty special and which placed me in good stead for life after school.

Copyright St Lawrence College 2018