Sophie Arthur

An Introduction to Liverpool with Sean Turner, Guild President

Sean Turner is your current President at Liverpool Guild of Students and I recently sat down with him in Sefton Park (his favourite place in Liverpool) to chat about his life in Liverpool.

How would you best describe yourself?

Probably… confident, conscientious, quite abrupt and I’d like to think that I am quite open-minded.

 How would you best describe your role?

As the democratic representative of students. My job is just to make sure that students’ experience is bettered and everything I’m doing should be to improve students experience, their interests and that’s what powers me to do my job.

What societies were you part of?

I was a President of RAG, a ‘raise and give’ society. RAG comes up with charity, volunteering and fundraising activities and I ran initially in my first year on the platform of boosting that and getting more people into fundraising, which we did. More people fundraised last year than ever before, but we also want to incorporate that more into the Guild structure, so RAG is no longer a society because basically it needed a real investment to get going initially, so we have a fundraising forum now, so that’s one thing.

I also did a bit of go-karting and I once auditioned for a play in the first week of University but I didn’t get into it.

I had a radio show for 2 years, so I was on LS Radio – it was called Sean’s Sound.

I also played a bit of Rugby and Hockey with the Engineers, not with the University’s teams, but campus league. Oh, and riding and polo! Basically, it came up that there was a polo team and I was like, “F*** it, I’m never ever going to play polo, am I?!” but it was heavily subsidised for students and so I just thought “I’m going to do that!” and I did. Then we won the National Championships, which was quite good!

So, I’ve done all sorts, but nothing too heavily.

What degree did/do you study?

So, I’ve done 3 out of 4 years of Mathematical Physics, so it’s an integrated Masters and this is a full-time job, so you take sabbatical periods to do it and so next year I’ll be going back to finish my Fourth year.

Did you always want to do that?

When I was really young I wanted to be a lawyer, because that was just, you know, the romanticised high-flying profession. But I got to about 15 and I did some Work Experience. Everyone said, “Don’t be a lawyer!” not because of me, but because of the job! I was always interested in the Universe and time, so I always wanted to do Physics. At first I wasn’t going to do Maths but after advice from a school teacher I ended up studying Maths, Further Maths and Physics at A Level and I loved them.

What was your childhood dream?

It wasn’t a dream ever [to be a lawyer]. In terms of career type stuff, I’ve never known what I wanted to be and I still don’t. Sometimes people go “So are you going to go on to do something like this?” and if I tell them about my role as Guild President they say “Politics?” While if I tell them about my degree they say “So you’re going to be a teacher? Or an engineer? Or an accountant?” But I don’t know what I want to be. Never have. I just want to be happy really!

 If you could be anything in 10 years time, what would you be?

Happy! There’s no way you can commodify happiness, I don’t think. But, I’ve got no desires as to where I’ll be, what I’ll be or who I’ll be with, just enjoying something and hopefully affording to live comfortably. But, I have no idea where I’m going to be in 10 years.

Do you have a favourite quote/motto?

One that springs to mind only because I liked it so much that I put it on my Twitter bio! “A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.” I like that because I don’t like cowardice.

What do you miss most about Liverpool when you’re not here?

The people – the friendliness. People will just stop you in the street and talk to you! Public transport is renowned for conversation. You never feel out of place, I could walk into any pub, club, bar, restaurant and they’d go “Hiya!” There’d never be a “this is too good for you” atmosphere, there’s no snobbiness in Liverpool.

 Favourite place?

I do love Sefton Park! And Lark Lane. It’s where I grew up. I think objectively, besides the sentimental, mushy, “I grew up here”, they are sound places!

I really like Edinburgh though. I really, really like Edinburgh. Edinburgh is just a city that got it’s planning department right in the 60s. There are no ugly buildings. You walk around and just look and think “that’s beautiful”, every single building. There’s a castle, bang in the middle of the city, everything feels ancient! I think I like that ancient feeling!

Do you have a favourite memory in this place?

Yeah, the best time I had in Edinburgh was 2 years ago and it was when I was President of RAG and about half a dozen of us went up to raise money over New Year. There’s this charity called Kidscan, which is a children’s cancer charity and they every year do this. So, the Edinburgh New Year’s Festival is called Hogmanay and they’ve got a Hogmoney campaign and you go up shake buckets at people for a few days, raise a few thousand pounds for the children’s cancer charity and they’ll provide accommodation, cover transports costs and they also give you a free ticket to the New Year’s Eve street party. So that’s my favourite Edinburgh memory, that and the night before New Year’s Eve they have a big torch parade, which is beautiful. There’s thousands of people with big fiery sticks and dressed as Vikings and whatever! That was quite cool.

Liverpool in his own words…

Best day out in Liverpool?

Well my immediate thing is in the summer, go to Formby beach. Go to the beach, the sand dunes are amazing, there’s a red squirrel reserve there, there’s big pine forests… it’s beautiful. So that’s the summer. At Christmas? Go to Lark Lane when Father Christmas comes down.Go to the top of the Cathedral? Honestly, I don’t know where to start! Go to the museums? I really like the museums.

Best way to spend a rainy day in Liverpool?

I mean I’d say the pub, but if you want to get really cosy, go to the Central Library’s reading room, that’s my recommendation.

Best place to celebrate Christmas in Liverpool?

Well bluntly it’s probably in the pub. People in Liverpool like being in the pub! I’d be in the pub! Pubs get very Christmassy, can I say pub again? Pub.

Best place to take your mum when she visits?

Bold Street, definitely. Lark Lane. Take her to Lark Lane. She will love it!

Best place to have a good time and spend less than a fiver?

Most of what I’ve said so far is free, I suppose! The Everyman and the Playhouse, which are the two big theatres put plays on and they have something where if you ring up on the day and they haven’t sold out, they’ll sell off tickets to students for about a fiver. So you can go and see world-class performances that are touring, but for a fiver if you’re a student.

Best view of Liverpool?

From the roof of the Guild? Probably from the Wirral. Go over to the Wirral and look at Liverpool. There’s trains and buses over there. The ferry! Get the ferry across to the Wirral and that’s the best view of Liverpool probably.

Best place to go when you’re hungry?

Mamos! Mamos is a takeaway and they have a Rose Lane one, just by Carnatic, and they also have one on Bold Street. They just do absurd food quantities! They do 20” pizzas, which you can’t fit through your door! They have a meal deal and you get a 20” pizza, 6 chicken pieces, a portion of chips, 2 garlic breads, 4 drinks and one slice of cake all for about £18! If you’re actually hungry, you go to Mamos!

Best place to get to know more about Liverpool?

Liverpool Museum. There are loads of hidden gems though. Sudley gallery, just by Carnatic Halls on Mossley Hill – it’s an art gallery and people would never know it’s there. Lady Lever gallery, Speke Hall. It’s a big old Tudor mansion just outside of the city. No one ever knows about it, but it’s definitely worth a look at!

I’d say have a walk round, lots of building have plaques on them and it’s not a big city to walk and then you can end up at the Liverpool Museum.


Best event you’ve been to in Liverpool?

Africa Oye. It’s brilliant, the biggest free African music festival and it’s just phenomenal. Everyone’s happy, there’s amazing food, amazing music and amazing people!

If you want to find out more about Sean’s work in the Guild, click here:

Or if you want to get involved in the Guild’s Hogmoney trip for Kidscan, then details will be coming soon so keep an eye out!

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