Mary Rhodes (1985-1987)
News and Sports Presenter
Mary Rhodes, a former Hereford Sixth Form College student and main presenter for BBC Midlands Today and other prime-time programmes, returned to College as the guest of honour at our annual Presentation Evening, held in Hereford Town Hall in January 2006.
As well as presenting prizes to our successful students, Mary – who hails originally from Weobley - took time to call in at College to see the changes which have taken place since her time as a student here. Mary said, “I am delighted to be here to recognise the success of students and the excellent work of Staff. It was a pleasure to visit the College again. The buildings have grown and the facilities are excellent but there is still the same community atmosphere and sense of enjoyment which I remember so well.”
During her visit Mary spoke to first year student, Rebecca Fletcher. Rebecca took the opportunity to interview Mary and to learn about Mary’s studies and her subsequent career:
“After taking A levels in Communication Studies, English, General Studies and Psychology at Hereford Sixth Form College, I completed a one year secretarial course at Herefordshire College of Technology. It was a means to an end - the typing and shorthand have been invaluable, but I was never cut out to be an organiser of files, nor an office dweller! From there I went to Birmingham to study Communication/Media Studies. It was one of the first degree courses of its kind, with a very practical bias. Part of the degree involved a placement at the end of the first and second year. BBC Hereford and Worcester had just opened up, so I applied, was taken on over the summer and then offered a job - that simple!
My favourite sport is tennis, my break in sports reporting/presenting came when I was at Wimbledon, presenting on the local radio service, Radio Wimbledon. I've been covering the tournament for the past 11 years, which is a frightening thought! It always gives me a buzz when I walk through the gates past the Fred Perry Statue. Let's hope there will be an Andy Murray Statue alongside it one day. My favourite sportsman to interview has to be Roger Federer. He is charming, modest and of course a phenomenal player.
I've been fortunate to cover the Olympics, Commonwealth Games, Cricket World Cup, Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and even World Bowls! One of the highlights must be the victory parade for the England rugby team - not an inch of floor space in Trafalgar Square. Another highlight was the decision day for the 2012 Olympics. I was in Trafalgar Square doing interviews with the athletes and ambassadors, it was a nerve-wracking moment, but with the announcement "The 2012 Olympics are awarded to the City of …London" the noise was incredible. I had to grab Dame Kelly Holmes for an interview straight away and she was in floods of tears!
I'm currently presenting Heaven and Earth on BBC 1 on Sunday morning. It's quite a departure from sport, but the interview/discussion format is interesting and something I would like to do more of. I can't imagine not being involved in sports journalism, although it would be nice to have weekends off once in a while!
The best advice I can give to anyone interested in a career in the media, is be prepared to start at the bottom and not to give up. So many people want to be a 'celebrity' but they are here today and gone tomorrow. Get some experience at your local paper/radio station and a good journalism qualification. If you are persistent it will pay off. “