Barnstaple old boy knighted in Queen’s Birthday honours

Former Barnstaple Grammar School pupil Professor David Spiegelhalter has been knighted for services to statistics. Former Barnstaple Grammar School pupil Professor David Spiegelhalter has been knighted for services to statistics.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014
11:35 AM

Cambridge University professor hailed ‘an inspiration’ to school’s current crop of students.

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A BARNSTAPLE Grammar School old boy knighted in the Queen’s Birthday honours has been hailed ‘an inspiration’ to modern-day pupils at the school.

David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk, and Professor of Biostatistics at Cambridge University, has been recognised for his ‘services to statistics’.

He attended the school, now known as the Park Community School, from 1963 to 1970 and is one of one of eight pupils from his school generation to go on to become a distinguished university professor.

Grandson of long-term chemistry teacher, Cecil Spiegelhalter, Sir David gained four A levels and left school with the open prizes for maths and physics.

He has gone on to become a leading authority in the use of statistics, particularly in the field of medicine.

Sir David told the Gazette: “I got a good maths education at Bluecoat and then Barnstaple Grammar School, but pure maths got too difficult at university so I went into statistics.

“I’ve carried on doing things with numbers for decades, but statistics doesn’t usually get much attention, so it was rather a surprise - and a great pleasure - to get this honour.”

Sir David led the statistical team in the Bristol Royal Infirmary Inquiry and also gave evidence to the Shipman Inquiry. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 2005 and awarded an OBE in 2006 for services to medical statistics.

Current Park Community School headteacher David Atton said: “I feel sure that the whole community of Barnstaple will congratulate Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter.

“It is an inspiration to all young people who hope to go to university that a Barnstaple boy has gone on to achieve so much in his life.

“That one decade produced eight university professors from this one school, confirms a golden age of achievement and success.”

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