Over the course of a forty year career, I made many wonderful friends and had the honour of teaching or getting to know some absolutely remarkable students – remarkable for their talents and skills, their resilience, their humour, their passion and compassion, their kindness, their generosity and their wonderfully optimistic view of life. One such student was Chloe Bird who is the subject of this week’s ‘Humans of Clevedon’ – Chloe presented many of these qualities.
Chloe and her family have always lived in Clevedon and she sees herself as remaining here. She loves that there is so much to do, particularly for her five year old son William, she sees it as a very inclusive community and likes the small town feel; not so small that everyone knows everyone’s business. Her love of the town is another reason for her to be included in ‘Humans of Clevedon’.
Chloe’s Mum is Jane who for many years worked at the YMCA but now works with disaffected students in Weston, her Dad is principal engineer at Rolls Royce. Chloe has two siblings Stephanie who is in her second year at Royal Holloway reading Geography and James who is in his final year of A levels and planning to go to Reading University to read Politics, International Relations and Economics. Find out more about Chloe’s course here:
Chloe spoke very fondly of her time at U.W.E. (University of West of England) where she read Politics and International Relations. She liked the fact that she could specialise throughout and although she thought initially that it would be the politics she enjoyed most, this was not the case, she became enthralled by international relations. She specialised in war, peacekeeping, foreign and defence policy and the international community, war and preventing war became her passion.
Chloe has just completed the taught part of her Master’s Degree at Royal Holloway London where she is reading Geo-Politics and Security, a course which focuses on the territorial aspect of inter-state relations. Check out Chloe’s course here:
Chloe’s long term goal is to get a doctorate and she is currently applying for a fully funded, four year, PhD course in Cyber Security Policy which has a small salary attached. Much as she loves the study and particularly the research element, she is not absolutely sure that this is the right time in her life for further study and has also applied for jobs at the Ministry of Defence.
Being a young mum and being so immersed in her studies, I wondered how Chloe found time to relax and what she did to relax. I knew she ran but didn’t realise that she had done two four month training cycles in preparation for the London and Florence marathons which she then successfullly completed! Chloe does nothing by halves! Both were great fun but in Florence Chloe was forced to don a coat as it rained the whole time. Her family didn’t make it to Florence but her partner Dan was there to see her finish. Although Chloe loved the marathon experience however it was very time consuming and was not something she could sustain so although she does still run she also makes regular use of the gym to keep fit.
Through her marathon running, Chloe raised nearly £4000 of sponsorship money which she donated to the Southmead Intensive Care Unit Fund set up by the mother of Harriet Ann Shelley who tragically died on May 7th 2017.
I asked Chloe to tell me about three things she was most proud of in her life and not surprisingly being a mum to William was at the top of her list. William is a very loving child who adores school and is top of the class with his reading. He is also very, very active like his mum – he enjoys football, rugby, cricket, golf and is just about to start swimming. Chloe lovingly described him as being like ‘an angel child’ apart from his early morning waking!
Chloe is also very proud of her education, being a single mum from the outset of her studies has been challenging but she is phenomenally tenacious and resilient and has managed her education and motherhood with the greatest of success. Motherhood has not been without its trials, William was born with a heart condition called SVT (Supraventricular tachycardia) which is an abnormally fast heart rhythm arising from improper electrical activity in the upper part of the heart. His heart was beating at 310 beats a minute which could have led to heart failure. The treatment for babies is to shock them by immersing their heads in ice which Chloe was understandably unable to watch. Happily William has now been discharged from cardiology and hopefully he will have grown out of the condition although sadly there is never any way of knowing. William is also very asthmatic and six times a year they find themselves in hospital but like the SVT this is also a condition that he may well grow out of.
I should also add that throughout her studies Chloe has also had a part time job as a youth worker, firstly at the YMCA – find out about Clevedon YMCA here: and now at the Barn, working with children aged eight to eleven. Find out about the Barn here:
The third thing Chloe mentioned was her running, a passion she shares with her father and which dates back to the time when she was a little girl and used to scoot alongside him – six miles running and scooting was a regular feature of her childhood. Chloe’s father is now her regular partner on short runs, ten to twelve miles come hail, rain or snow is nothing for this pair! It’s an important bonding time which Chloe cherishes and has now extended to the gym where they often take classes together.
I asked Chloe if she saw herself as a role model which I most certainly do. I was pleased that she did see her considerable educational achievements whilst becoming a mother at the tender age of seventeen was something to be proud of. She really is a very positive example of someone who has overcome some tremendous barriers to achieving her life goals. I asked her how tough this had been and whilst she agreed it had been very challenging, she also pointed out that she had never known any different. She was in Year 12, in school, the day he was born and she was back in school six weeks later, expressing breast milk before the school day started.
Chloe is very driven and keen to succeed, I’m loathe to use the word ambitious because it conjures up images of someone ruthless and selfish which is so not Chloe. She is a bright, articulate, deeply caring individual from a deeply caring family; one of those people with lots of get up and go who really wants to make a difference in the world. Chloe has known considerable loss in her short life, when she was an undergraduate at UWE she lost a friend each year, Harriet died during the week of her finals. She admits this has had a big impact on her way of thinking, in terms of wanting to get things done sooner rather than later because you just never know…….. especially when two of her friends died as a result of freak accidents.
Chloe has a very exciting future ahead of her in the world of cybersecurity which has the potential to paralyse the global economy and is believed by many to be a greater threat to their countries than a physical attack. I am absolutely sure that she will realise her dream of becoming a Doctor and be at the forefront of pioneering initiatives to build collective resilience against cybercrimes and global threats of cyber warfare. It will be good to know that such an able, ethical woman will be involved in such work. It was a pleasure to talk to Chloe and I wish her all the best for a successful future.