Alumnus of the Month: November 2022
Alan Clive Nodes Lello is our Verulam School Alumnus of the Month. Alan left Verulam School in April 1946 is now in retirement in Ludlow, Shropshire.
Please tell us a little about yourself – where do you work and how did you get into this role?
I am Alan Clive Nodes Lello and I recently celebrated my ninety fourth birthday. I now live in a retirement complex in Ludlow with my wife Joy. This is a very brief account of my career as a civil engineer. I left school in St Albans on Thursday 19th April 1946. I began my working life just days later, by commencing my articled pupillage, as a student of the Wembley Borough Engineer, on the next Monday 23rd of April. My studies took a little over three years to complete and after another six months I found my first employment. My subsequent career would see me being paid to travel around much of the globe.
What are some of your proudest achievements since leaving Verulam School?
From the very start of my career as an engineer I was involved in vital infrastructure. In my first professional role I acted as resident contracts engineer for the mains drainage scheme for west Hertfordshire. This was a complex scheme involving a combination tunnels and connected pipework of up to 63 inches in diameter in which my involvement lasted for four years. Subsequently, I moved to Shropshire and was an assistant engineer on the Elan Valley pipeline supplying water to the city of Birmingham. Our team was responsible adding a new water supply pipe transporting this vital resource from mid-Wales to our second city.
In Nigeria, whilst working on a major highways improvement scheme, I discovered an attempt at vandalism on a small bridge crossing a ravine. The A1’s route links Lagos on the coast to the country’s border with Niger in the North. This incident preceded the nation’s first general elections and a candidate from the South was due to pass over this link. I like to think that my vigilance prevented a serious incident for the country’s young democracy. I was privileged to play a further small role in the elections as the returning officer for Minna North.
What advice would you give someone looking to follow a similar career path?
I think the best advice I can give is to follow route that combines practical working experience with the classroom. In my opinion working on real world solutions under the direction of a qualified engineer cannot be matched in the classroom alone. A combined system of learning provides for a better understanding of the processes needed to arrive at appropriate engineering solutions. In my own case, I was informed by the engineer, that I won my first employment ahead of a graduate in part due to my practical experience.
How have your experiences at Verulam School contributed to your life and successes since leaving school?
My main interests during my time in school were mathematics and art. The high standard of mathematics taught, at Verulam, gave a sound grounding in the subject. This would prove to be invaluable in making engineering calculations and analysing structures. I continued to sketch and paint for as long as my eyesight allowed.
What House were you in at Verulam School and can you describe one of your fondest memories?
Although, I was at Verulam for more than three years I must admit that over time my memories, although fond, have faded a little. As I recall the school’s first headmaster was RF Bradshaw who had previously been the Geography master at Haberdashers, where I became a pupil just after his departure. On the day war broke out my family left London to stay with friends in Hertfordshire and two years later I became a pupil at Verulam.
During the early years of the school class numbers were small, with a few of the boys, including myself, travelling to school by train from Harpenden. This meant that our day in school had to end promptly in order to catch the train home. However, when provision was made, by the headmaster for Friday afternoon club activities we were able to join in. I took part in the science club and enjoyed collaborating on a variety of experiments with my classmates.
We love hearing what our alumni have been doing since leaving Verulam School. Each month, we are inviting a member of our alumni community to share their story of life after Verulam. If you’re and alumnus who would like to take part, or you’d like to volunteer an alumnus that you know, then please drop us an email.