Oil, a Gap Year and Cordon Bleu


I finished Secondary school in Norwich, UK. The last two years of which were boarding school. I then undertook an undergraduate degree in Geology at the University of Liverpool. I actually didn’t get the grades I needed for my conditional offers so got in to UoL through clearing. At the time, it felt like I’d failed at everything but it turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me!) I went on to do a Master’s degree in Petroleum Geoscience at Imperial College London.

Name: Clare Lawry
Nationality: British/Australian
Left Bangkok Patana School: 2003University: University of Liverpool, BSc Geology; Imperial College London, MSc Petroleum Geoscience

What are your favourite memories of your time at Bangkok Patana School?

There are too many to list but one of my absolute favourites was ‘Earn and Learn’ with Mr Ward in Year 6. Amongst other things we had to pay rent on our chairs (which varied depending on proximity to air con/number of neighbours etc.), we could earn ‘Patanas’ which was our currency, by being pencil monitor or by other tasks and the sheriff, Joanna Darrington, policed the classroom fining people for leaving their chairs untucked. I was one of two accountants who tallied cheques/fines/rent each week!

Of course Residential Visits is in there including going to Kanchanaburi and Chiang Mai, as is being in productions including “Lord of the Sausages”! Another favourite was Victorian Day in Year 6 and defending the class room from pillaging Year 4s who stole stationary and wreaked havoc on their Viking day!

What have you been doing since leaving Bangkok Patana School?

I finished Secondary school in Norwich, UK. The last two years of which were boarding school. I then undertook an undergraduate degree in Geology at the University of Liverpool. I actually didn’t get the grades I needed for my conditional offers so got in to UoL through clearing. At the time, it felt like I’d failed at everything but it turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me!) I went on to do a Master’s degree in Petroleum Geoscience at Imperial College London.

From there I got a graduate job as a Geologist for Statoil, a Norwegian oil company in Trondheim, Mid Norway. After four years in Norway, I took voluntary redundancy in August 2016 and embarked on the gap year I never had! Over the last year I have gained a Cordon Bleu Diploma in Culinary Arts from Tante Marie Culinary Academy in Woking, UK, worked in a top London restaurant, at food festivals, taught cookery classes, ran a supper club with a friend and worked as a food stylist!

I’m now mid-way through three months of travelling around Myanmar, India, Japan and New Zealand. I took a rest stop in Bangkok and visited Bangkok Patana for the first time since I left in 2003 and was blown away. It brought back fantastic memories!

In December, I returned to the oil industry and started a new job with a French company based in my hometown of Norwich. It was a “gap 15 months” rather than a gap year and I highly recommend it!

What are the things that you learned /experienced at Bangkok Patana that you still use today?

I learnt how to make friends and be open to new experiences. It sounds obvious but not many children experience such a transient place where people arrive and leave all the time. Bangkok Patana students have new classmates on a termly basis and we were always so excited to welcome them. Making people feel welcome and making new friends is a skill and I’m grateful that I can talk to anyone as a result!

I now have friends all over the world and it’s not unusual for me to know someone from Bangkok Patana when visiting somewhere new. While in Chennai recently, I reconnected with an old Patana friend who invited me to her wedding there.

I’ve been told I have a beautiful swimming stroke that is solely the result of a gruelling training regime enforced by Justin, the formidable Patana Tigers swimming coach during my time at Patana! I’m grateful now…!