Tom Garner'09

Course studied:
History

Features Editor, History of War

"Be proud of studying at Oxford Brookes. Ever since its foundation its reputation has only ever gone up with its forward-thinking outlook. That was true when I was a student there and it is even more so now."

Tom Garner

What made you choose Brookes as a place to study?

I chose Oxford Brookes for two reasons. I was impressed by the varied subject topics for modules on the History course and I really liked the leafy campus on Headington Hill. It was also fantastic to spend three years in Oxford, which is an exceptionally beautiful city.

What is your best memory of your time at Oxford Brookes?

I’ve never forgotten the enthusiasm of my fellow students on the course who were just as dedicated to studying History as I was. I also had a great time performing in productions with the Oxford Brookes Drama Society and the Fortune Players. I was president of the former during 2007-08 and I was lucky to perform at the New Theatre in Oxford with the latter. Looking back, it was all very exciting!

After graduating from Brookes what were the next steps for your career?

I subsequently studied for an MA in Medieval Studies at King’s College London and graduated from there in 2012 with a “Merit” certificate. I then spent several years working in the heritage industry in various roles for English Heritage, the National Trust and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. I then left the heritage industry to begin my current career in journalism in 2015 when I joined History of War Magazine as its full-time Staff Writer.

What was your inspiration to move into your current profession?

I fell into journalism almost by chance. I had never worked in the media industry before and wasn’t expecting much to come from my job application. However, I had been freelancing as a history lecturer for adult education groups alongside my heritage work. It was this experience of writing and presenting my own lectures that largely inspired my decision to apply for my current profession. Luckily, the gamble paid off!

What success stories/achievements have you had in your role?

I’ve been very lucky to interview many people in the public eye but I mostly interview war veterans, particularly from the Second World War. It’s been a privilege to meet these men and women and tell their story. Previous veteran and media interviewees have included a Battle of Britain pilot, film director Peter Jackson and politician Lord Paddy Ashdown among many others. I’ve also done substantial freelance work for other magazines including All About History. I was promoted to Features Editor of History of War in 2018

What is the best advice someone has given you?

It was actually a lecturer from Brookes, Dr Alysa Levene, who gave me sound advice. After receiving an unexpectedly high mark for one of my essays, Dr Levene suggested I consider writing or getting something published. Although I initially worked in the heritage industry after university, I didn’t forget what she said. On reflection, my current career demonstrates that it was very good advice!

What advice would you give to others?

Don’t be afraid of trying new things. The thought that I could be a journalist never crossed my mind when I was at Brookes but I’m glad that I kept an open mind. Also, don’t be afraid of rejection. The world of work is very tough and competitive and although I have been lucky to be in the job I’m in now I’ve also been turned down from so many jobs. If you stay resilient you may be surprised at the opportunities that turn up.