Disembarking after an "extraordinary roller coaster ride"
By Meredith Dault, Senior Communications Officer
The first time Sandy Montgomery saw the Bader International Study Centre (BISC) in East Sussex, England, it was in an advertisement recruiting for an operations manager. “Like many following after me, I thought what a great looking place and wouldn’t it be great to be involved with a project like that,” he recalls. Mr. Montgomery was struck by Alfred and Isabel Bader’s dream to establish an international study centre in the fifteenth century castle, and landed the job.
At the end of August, he will retire from that job – one he has held since arriving at the Bader International Study Centre in 1993 as one of the first employees. His earliest tasks involved managing the restoration of the castle, the development of the residence, and the transition to hosting the first Queen’s students in 1994.
“During his 20 years at the Castle, Sandy Montgomery has been a rock of support for seven Academic/Executive Directors, and the fount of knowledge about the inner workings of Herstmonceux,” says Bruce Stanley, Executive Director of the BISC, “He knows everything from how to find the smuggler’s tunnel under the moat, to which electrical lead runs the lights in the Cold War bunker under the residence.”
Mr. Montgomery, who describes his two decades at the Castle as an “extraordinary rollercoaster ride,” moved to Herstmonceux with his wife, Shirley, when his son, Robin, was six years old. “Robin grew up in the castle and made many friends with the passing students,” he recalls. “ What an education that turned out to be!”
In his role, however, Mr. Montgomery also served as a steadying influence on more than 7,000 passing students. Mr. Stanley recalls him “hosting the student auction, getting students out of Bader at six in the morning for the fire drills, or ending the closing ceremony with his sage words of advice on making the most of their unique tenure at the BISC.”
“The thousands of students that have passed through the portals of the BISC have been an amazing bunch of young people and a huge credit to Queen’s and the other parent universities that send students here,” says Mr. Montgomery, who plans to retire to the South of France and run a bed and breakfast with his wife. “Herstmonceux is a real gem with so much to offer. It is the envy of many academic institutions worldwide.”
This article is one of a series of stories celebrating the Castle and its 20th anniversary.