Anne Greig (1988)

Anne Greig

‘St John’s changed my life in such a positive way, turning it into an adventure.'

Anne is one of the founder members of the Beaufort Society. She took time out of a family trip to Cambridge to tell us about her gift to St John’s and what led her to make it.

‘My journey to St John’s began in Paisley, near Glasgow, where I thrived as one of eight children. My family weren’t wealthy but they encouraged us to be the best we could be, an approach that instilled in me a lifelong sense of positive aspiration. I remember with great warmth the strength of my family life with its rituals and traditions, where everyone contributed and came together for meals, and I found an echo of this familial rhythm at St John’s.’

After qualifying as a primary school teacher, Anne developed an interest in special education and an ambition to work as an educational psychologist. ‘This was a difficult field to enter because of a preference for those with experience in education. As an alternative I took a Psychology degree at Glasgow University and was then offered an MSc Studentship working with Robert Hinde’s research group on mother/child attachment at the Sub-Department of Animal Behaviour at Madingley.’ Professor Hinde was an important early mentor and it was this connection that brought Anne to Cambridge and then to a PhD at St John’s.

‘A wonderful melting pot of talents and opportunities’

Anne describes her time at St John’s as a life-changing ‘magic carpet ride’, both academically and socially, and she relished the opportunity to focus in detail on her chosen subject, Developmental Psychology. Embracing the full potential of academic life at Cambridge, Anne found the learning opportunities and support outstanding. ‘I was thrilled at the thought of the eminent scholars in the field who had passed through the same doors, and by the closeness of current experts, sometimes working in the next room. I enjoyed being part of a cohort of research students who had often come from far afield to study at Cambridge. It was a wonderful melting pot of talents and opportunities.’

Anne’s research was demanding but it did not prevent her from participating in the social life of St John’s and the University. Although she was married and living in graduate accommodation, Anne enjoyed dining in Hall and the other traditions of College life, which reminded her of the nurturing environment of her early years. ‘St John’s was very much like a family, supporting me when my MRC funding ran out and providing hardship support for study trips overseas and to conferences. The College’s generosity was amazing.’

After completing her PhD, Anne took up a postdoctoral position at the University of East Anglia – a formative period in her career when she designed and developed a research lab to observe parent-child interactions. Anne’s research into maternal depression and its impact on psychosocial development and attachment culminated in a book, entitled Doing Research with Children, now in its third edition.

The journey home

Anne returned to Scotland in 1999 to fulfil her early ambition to qualify as an Educational Psychologist, and read for her MSc at Strathclyde University while caring for her parents.

Ten years on, Anne is a leader in the field of therapeutic work with children in schools. She has produced numerous publications and is on the editorial board of the British Psychological Society’s Educational & Child Psychology publication. Anne could not be happier in her chosen career and feels she owes an enormous debt to the College. ‘St John’s changed my life in such a positive way, turning it into an adventure. Through my work I am passing on the knowledge I gained at Cambridge and hopefully changing lives for the better. I can honestly say there’s not a single thing I learned here, especially about attachment theory, which I don’t use every day.’

Giving something back

Anne conceived of leaving a gift in her will to St John’s while studying here, and discussed making provision for the College with her husband. In 2009, when Anne took steps to make her gift, she wrote movingly: ‘In my time at Cambridge, when I did my PhD, I benefited from your hardship fund. My husband was also a strong financial support. With such help I have been able to succeed in a career in research and publishing. I am extremely grateful to the College and to my husband, Gordon Greig, who sadly died very unexpectedly in 2007, aged just 50.’ Through her gift Anne intends to change the lives of those who need support and enable them to go on and change the lives of others, as she has done.

The Beaufort Society: ‘An exciting venture’

The advent of the Beaufort Society and the College’s awareness-raising campaign about giving through a will meets with Anne’s unqualified approval. ‘I think it’s an exciting venture and a very good idea. Providing information about remembering St John’s in your will takes a lot of the legwork out of legacy giving, and will encourage others to do the same.’ Anne came to the Society’s first event in 2009, and particularly enjoyed seeing the redeveloped Corfield Court site: ‘it’s amazing to think my legacy will contribute to something like that.’

It is inspiring to meet Anne, who has made such a success of a life that has not always been easy. The College can feel proud of the role it has played in her life, and will ensure that her gift will be used to support the studies of those coming after her.

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