I went to a South Wales comprehensive school where nobody had ever before been to Oxbridge. My headmaster received a letter from Neil Tanner telling him that Hertford wanted to encourage the best state school pupils to apply and outlined the Hertford Scheme. I was told I should apply.
I bought The Times and The Guardian every day to prepare as that is what my school told me to do. It was no use at all. I was given six legal cases to read and examined on them the next day. I only picked them up late in the evening after drinking in the college bar – I had missed the note at the lodge and only found out about the papers when asked by another candidate how I had found them. So it was a panic visit to the lodge, lots of coffee and an all nighter – not of course the last! I still shiver at what my life would have been if I had never picked up the papers and turned up without having read anything.
The interview was with Roy Stuart and Stuart Anderson. Roy’s room was full of books and papers stacked perilously all over the room. It was like a minefield to get to the chair without knocking them over. The interview was supposed to be for an hour but after 45 minutes I could not go any further.
I thought it had not gone well. I walked around Oxford afterwards feeling low but captivated by the beauty of the city. Three weeks later the offer letter arrived.
I have never looked back. Hertford was a wonderful experience, it was life changing, it gave you confidence to believe that anything was possible.
A 54 year old Queen’s Counsel now looks back at that 17 year old boy with incredulity. It is difficult to believe it is the same person and everything is due to Hertford.