From homesickness to a new home
Susan’s tale to begin with might sound rather familiar to many new freshers. She was homesick during her first year so her College Secretary Pauline Warby (a family friend) recruited George to drop by and befriend her.Susan’s story begins with a familiar trope in university life: homesickness. Her college secretary Pauline Warby recruited George to drop by and befriend her during the first difficult months. His aim was to get Susan more involved in Alcuin college activities.Susan recalls how “George was organising events for the Alcuin Christian Community group and came by my college room to ask me whether I’d speak in a debate on pacifism that he was going to be chairing.”
They might have been on the same course but their paths hadn’t really crossed, and Susan was pretty sure she’d never spoken to him before. Remarkably Susan was in fact engaged to a man back in her hometown of Newcastle upon Tyne, so certainly wasn’t looking for any romance.
As the story goes she did go along to the debate and ended up joining the CC. It was during the Shrove Tuesday CC Pancake party that their hands touched over a hot frying pan, and a spark ignited!
An unsurprisingly tangled romance ensued but finally they were wed in March 1973, just before their final term. Their first ‘home’ was in fact an Alcuin College double room, with double bed- a college first. Last year they celebrated their Ruby Wedding Anniversary, and have two children and four grandchildren. In speaking to them they wanted to express how much they owe the University of York in bringing them together.
Reunited through the Grapevine
It seems love didn’t just blossom within the walls of York, in fact one couple studied together but didn’t actually start dating till long after their university experience, when kids and careers had already been embarked on.
Georgina and Trevor studied together and both spent a year in India as part of their degree, but on graduating both went their separate ways, married others and had children. It was in fact through Grapevine that they met up again. They became email contacts and discovered that we’d gone through various similar experiences such as being single parents and teaching, and had a shared interest in the natural world, travelling and learning languages.
As their children were all young adults they decided to embark on a project in Spain and have bought a lovely woodland valley in the Sierra Aracena, about an hour from Seville. Their plan is to provide a place they can share with those interested in ecology, languages and personal development. It seems their love of nature reunited them.
Of Betty’s and Best Men
It was the work of a mutual friend that brought Maria and Stephen together. Stephen was a grad student and Maria was in her last year. It was a strange year for Maria because most of her friends had graduated the year before. Steve and Maria ran into each other a few times and their first “date” was at Betty’s Teashop- a typically York venue for romance.The following year they were married in the church at Heslington. The chaplain from More House married them, but because it was a Catholic wedding and a couple of days after Christmas, they had to go to York town hall in the morning and get married there first. The “real” ceremony took place that afternoon.They recall that “the reception was held at the Post House Hotel which was so much fun and went on for so long that our best man ended up getting locked out of his B and B. He came to our flat to spend the night (in our spare room). The following day all my Italian relations who had come to the wedding thought it hilarious that our best man had spent our wedding night with us!”
1974: the year of Cupid?
It seems romance was certainly in the air for the class of 1974, here are three tales of music, college generational love and graduation realisation.
A wedding for £57
It all started for Diana and Loan Davies after a choir practice at the Lyons, Loan had asked a few people round to his flat in Alcuin for coffee. Diana as a mature student lived in York all the year round and needed to go back on the bus but Loan (at the time) said he would drive her home. Unfortunately he completely forgot this arrangement so she spent the night on a friend’s floor; admittedly not the smoothest of starts.
However, it appears Loan had his eye on her so asked her to accompany him to several concerts the Fitzwilliam were giving in Yorkshire churches that summer. It wasn’t until the autumn term that he formally made a move. They became engaged at the beginning of December and married in the Minster the day after degree-day so that it would be easier for all their University friends to attend. It is interesting to note that in this day and age where weddings cost tens of thousands of pounds, they had their reception at King’s Manor so the whole bill for the wedding, excluding the Special Licence was £57, chiefly because Diana’s parents provided the champagne!
Coincidence doesn’t begin to cover it.
Antony and Janet Wilson met at York in 1973. Antony was then a third year Biology undergraduate and Janet a first year student in the Chemistry department. It was a romance conjured by fate as the both had rooms on the same corridor in Derwent A block. After graduation, back in Leicestershire they were married in the autumn of the famously hot summer of 1976. Their connection with York doesn’t end there though, with two girls Kirsten and Amy, it was unsurprising that York would be a contender for high education. Kirsten decided upon York because of the course offered, location and beautiful campus. She made one request, and that was to be in Derwent College. In the autumn of 1998 they brought her to York and remarkably she was allocated her mother (Janet’s) first room. She followed in her mother’s footsteps in more than one way: during her first year in York she met Ashley whom she went on to marry in 2009. The Wilson’s second daughter Amy took a gap year and on return so too attended the University of York in 2000. At this point pure coincidence doesn’t even sum it up as Amy found herself in her father’s first room. With an already blossoming family of two grandchildren who knows if there’ll be a third generation at York?
Almost too late
The story of Susan and Marvyn became even before they arrived in York, as they met on the train coming up. They became more acquainted as they were both on the ground floor in Vanbrugh, additionally Susan shared a room with a biologist Sally Tveit, who attended every lecture and had beautiful handwriting, meaning many people borrowed her notes, including Mervyn. Over the years they didn’t acknowledge a connection because Diana was going out with a friend of Mervyn’s. It was only when they were leaving and Mervyn was contemplating whether to go to Imperial or stay in York, that Diana realised as she put it “the truth.” They have been together ever since. They were married in St Paul’s Heslington in 1975 and had our reception in Heslington Hall GCR. In 1991, with three children, they moved to Brisbane, Australia and have lived there ever since.
Other stories from the decade …
Ken Wild (Maths, Langwith, 1971) and Johanna R E Wild (née Wolf) (PGCE, Wentworth, 1973)
It was 1972 and a couple of weeks before the start of the second year of my DPhil (I also graduated from York). I had a graduate room in Langwith, which of course I was entitled to use throughout the whole year. I and a couple of others were visiting an undergraduate friend who had been allowed the use of a room in Goodricke during the vacation. At that time Goodricke was positioned where James College is now partly located, and this particular room looked out towards the bridge over to the new college, called Wentworth, that was opening with the new academic term. Somebody looked out of the window and saw another of our friends, the incoming President of the Student Union, Steve Sheppard, coming across the bridge with a girl we didn’t recognise. We called down from the window, and he shouted back that this “new girl” had asked him the way to the dining room. As he was going there himself he’d offered to show her. We were all ready for dinner and said we’d join them. Her name was Jo, and she told us that the porters in Wentworth had told her she was its very first resident! She was an Oxford modern languages graduate who was just returning from a year spent as a teaching assistant in Hamburg. She was at York to do her Post Graduate Teaching certificate. As a potential language teacher, York operated a system whereby they got the students to come up early and made them learn a new language in two weeks, just to remind them what it was like. Following up with weekly classes for half a term they all had to take the GCSE in the November. Jo would be doing Italian with the idiosyncratic Trudy Berger (she and all her fellow students got top grades!). Our eyes met over the table and we have been together ever since – although Jo recently told a friend that we started going out together “around Christmas”. It obviously took me that long to convince her. We were married on the 6th of April 1974 and will be celebrating our ruby wedding anniversary this year – if we haven’t fallen out by then!
Hilary Jane Fry nee Cherry (Chemistry/Education and bar football, Alcuin, 1971) and David John Fry (Biology and folk music, Alcuin, 1971)
I’m not sure we came across each other in first year (‘68-69) although we both lived in college in Alcuin, me in D block and John in A block. (Immediately the pattern of later life becomes apparent – Jane discourses, and I interject… XX vs. XY! In fact, we first skirted with each other after meeting on the Alcuin bridge, where I asked if she wanted a coffee, and then asked her to go to the student shop to buy a jar!).
However, at the beginning of 2nd year we were both elected to the SRC, me as Vice President (with, as we say, an accent on ‘vice’) and John as Social Secretary, so we spent many hours in the offices, which were in Vanbrugh. (I don’t know who Jane was in the office with, but John spent his spare time in Radio York presenting ‘Cisum Klof’.) John remembers a rather tedious SRC general meeting (John Randall had the bit between his teeth) during which he made me an origami frog, presumably out of the agenda (it was a Revolutionary Socialist Party flyer – and it seemed like the best use for it). It must have made an impact as I told my friends that I ‘fancied‘ him and we arranged a party in the very grotty flat that five of us shared and invited John to organise the music for us. I remember making a new outfit – pale green sparkly wide trousers and matching top – and the girls doing my hair and make-up so that I was absolutely irresistible to the poor young man! The party was a great success in every way. John helped with the clearing up (lots of Brownie points), stayed over in the flat and the next day hitch-hiked back home to Beverley with me to collect my banger of a car, which my Dad was fixing yet again. At the time my Dad (ever the pragmatic Yorkshire man) called all my boyfriends ‘John’ – he said he could never keep up with them and there was a good chance of being right, so that worked very well! My parents ended up with two out of three sons-in-law called John, so maybe Dad was on to something.
The party was on November 15th 1969 after which we hardly spent a minute apart until the Christmas holidays when we returned to our family homes – but not for long! I had a holiday job in a petrol station which was next door to a coffin factory. One of their drivers told me there was a flu epidemic in the south of England and he had to deliver emergency supplies to the Brighton area the following day – John lived in Worthing! So I hitched a ride in a very uncomfortable coffin lorry which left Beverley at midnight… my mother came to ‘interview’ the driver who turned out to be an ex-pupil of hers …. and I arrived in Worthing early the next morning to meet the Frys. John’s four sisters and little brother gave me a very thorough interrogation before breakfast. They probably thought I was an alien with my Northern accent and unusual travel habits.
On returning to York we decided to get married in the summer holidays as skulking around A block drew a good deal of attention to our relationship, the Provost had concerns (as did the Alcuin God Squad students) and ‘living together’ openly wasn’t an option in the ‘olden times’ – as our 6-year-old granddaughter would say. We announced our nuptial plans during the Easter vacation and my poor mother was horrified… What about your degree? Couldn’t you wait until you finished? How can anyone organise a wedding in a few months? But of course, after initial rumblings and some reassurance about academic focus! Mum got stuck in and sewed and crocheted and generally made 19th September 1970 a great event.
In our final year we had an apartment in the housing association accommodation in Peel Close, Heslington and realised how challenging it was to live off £5 housekeeping money a week (I recently saw that the no-cat-swinging space of 6 Peel Close had changed hands for £150,000…). We also discovered how incompatible our study habits were. We only had a small dining table, so John lashed long legs onto a coffee table that he found ‘thrown out’ behind Alcuin and repaired (honest salvage – we still have it), and hey presto we each had a desk. But then – I liked total silence whilst working and John loved music on all the time…head phones were not invented! Somehow I scraped a degree which my Mum was pleased about, but she had another shock at graduation when she was waiting for them to announce Jane Cherry and I answered to Hilary Fry! (We’ve always been very compatible – our used names are our middle names [David John and Hilary Jane] and the fact that bureaucracy can’t cope with that has bugged both of us for a long time.) Fortunately John maintained academic focus, which he still does, and his degree was good enough to be offered a PhD in Exeter. Four years later John accepted a lectureship in University College Dublin, and Ireland has been our home ever since. When our three daughters were all in school, I did a post graduate course (I had fantastic study habits as a mature student), before working as a psychologist with adolescents and their families.
Alcuin and York are special to us. Over the years, whenever we visited family in Yorkshire, we couldn’t resist a quick trip to Heslington, despite groans from the back seat of the car – “we went last year”, “you told us that before”…. Most memorable probably were a visit in 1975 with our first baby when the Alcuin porters told us they’d thought we ‘had’ to get married five years earlier…., and our visit as totally respectable elder citizens for Alcuin’s 40th birthday party. That culminated with extended outdoor early-morning conversations with some of Alcuin’s then current students who validated all our beliefs in both young people and York University as an amazing place to be a student! Our latest visit was for the 50th celebrations – see photo.
Sue Bos (Language/Education, Vanbrugh, 1971) and Tim Bos (Language/Education, Alcuin, 1971)
We met in the Language Centre in October 1967 as new students on the Language/Education degree course. We were soon part of a blossoming friendship group – lunching in the elegant dining room in Vanbrugh (but we couldn’t afford supper as well). Sue heard there was a Dutch student on the course so she was looking out for the tall blond one with the cute accent. Not finding him she asked a member of the group, who pointed to the student in our midst – Tim, with average height, dark curly hair and perfect English.
Sue decided to compromise on the details and told Tim her father spoke Dutch and translated physics text books. Tim thought this was an unlikely chat up line and was amazed when it turned out to be true. For supper we cooked on the Baby Bellings and socialised in the college kitchens – we still enjoy our basic tuna risotto.
We married in Heslington church soon after graduation with our reception at Heslington Hall. We then launched into our careers – Tim in education and Sue in the NHS in various parts of the country. We returned to York to live in 2006 and here we still are after 42 years of marriage, two children and three grandchildren.
Elizabeth (Liz) Price (née Hart) (Language/Education, Derwent & Goodricke, 1971) and Alan Price (Language/Philosophy, Vanbrugh, 1971)
We met on our first day in the Language Department way back in 1967 when the campus trees were mere saplings and Vanbrugh and Alcuin were brand new and shiny (or as shiny as CLASP permits). At the same time we met Tim and Sue (née Breeze) Bos who also became an alumni couple. Despite spending our year abroad apart (the men in Seville and the “girls” in Lyon) we were married in Heslington Parish Church on successive Saturdays in 1971 with most of the main players just swapping roles! We have remained in touch ever since and are delighted that they have gone full circle and returned to York as that gives us a perfect excuse to re-visit the alma mater. Both they and we are still married!
Christine Chawner (Sociology & Economic History, Alcuin, 1972) and John Rinder (Chemistry, Alcuin, 1972)
I knew John’s name and reputation long before I met him in our first term at York. He was considered clever & knowledgeable but more importantly very helpful to my friends who were studying chemistry. They often went to see him in B Block for help. One evening I went with them on an errand of mercy as he was rather poorly so the first time I saw John he was laid up in bed. We hardly spoke that day but apparently he had noticed me.A few days later I met him by the porter’s lodge & he invited me up to his room to see his etchings (or in his case an old map of the Yorkshire Ridings). I later found out he had been hanging around for ages hoping to meet me.Then a group, all female, decided to go to York Minster to hear Handel’s Messiah. It seemed to us to be the right sort of cultural event to experience at Christmas. A number of males tagged along but it was freezing in the Minster. At “half time” the boys went across the road to a pub and debated whether to return. John was one of those who decided to come back and stick it out to the bitter end. He had proved his devotion and we spent the Christmas vacation writing and phoning each other. I was in London and he was in Leeds. No texting or MSN messaging then.
Our first “date” was to the Railway Museum in York in January 1970. Not the current National Museum but a couple of old unheated sheds at the back of the station. We then went for a coffee at a Wimpy Bar. Before the term was finished he had asked me to marry him despite my London ways and my having family from Lancashire. We married in October 1972. Yorkshire Cricket Club failed to win the County Championship for nearly 30 years in retribution. Trains continued to be a passion for John throughout our marriage and we travelled the world to see and photograph them.John died on New Year’s Eve 2013. I still have that old map.
David Neville (Biology, Langwith, 1972) and Christine Neville (nee Slack) (Biology, Goodricke, 1972)
Although we were studying Biology together in the same year group we only became a couple during the course of our third year projects studying the acquisition of insecticide resistence in Drosophila (South American fruit fly) under supervision of Dr.Judy Metcalfe. We were lucky to work in her research laboratory instead of the general undergraduates labs – collecting newly emerging flies every four hours at hatching times over two day periods led to some lonely treks to the Biology Dept. at all times of day and night for days on end during the hatching periods. And we still laugh to this day of our surprise at being able to get tickets for the concert by ‘The Who’ in Central Hall so close to the event – we’d imagined it would be a sell-out early on – but then we found that we were seated only two rows back from the stage and so were deaf for days afterwards following the repeat of their ‘Live at Leeds’ concert days after recording their album. We married two years after graduation and followed careers in IT Systems Analysis (Christine) and Further Education (myself) and briefly worked together in the same FE college. We have both taken early retirement and spend much of our time living in Aquitaine, France and participating in competitive Masters’ swimming at national, European and World level. Unfortunately there wasn’t a pool at the University when we were there. With two children, Claire and Chris, both married and now settled in Australia and New Zealand respectively after emigrating a short while ago, we are fortunate to escape winters in the Northern Hemisphere and enjoy the sunshine and life-styles Down-Under. We regularly visit the University and attend commemorative events – the attached picture was taken in 2011 at the event to commemorate an anniversary of Goodricke College and we were pleased to meet up with some of our former lecturers, Prof. John Currey and Drs. Simon Hardy and Martin Rumsby.
Bernard Barker (History (MPhil), Vanbrugh, 1973) and Ann Barker nee Parsons (Biology & Education, Derwent, 1968)
Bernard was a student at Cambridge and travelled with a group of friends to Greece in 1966. The group met up with a similar (but female) group of friends in Athens, through a school connection between a member of each party. After separate Greek travels, Ann and Bernard first coupled at a nightclub on Mykonos and then for dinner at a Plaka restaurant.
After much hitch-hiking and many shared weekends in York and Cambridge, they married in 1968.
Bernard became a graduate student at York under Keith Robbins in 1968; Ann taught in Goole. Their son Chris also studied biology at York (1994 – 97), with many of the same teachers as his mother. Sadly Chris died aged 25 in 2001.
Christopher Higgins (Mathematics, Derwent, 1973) and Linden Ellis (Economics, Alcuin, 1973)
We met in our first year, when we were both living in college.Linden was sharing a room with an American exchange student who was studying Mathematics, and who was in the same tutorial group as Chris.We shared a house in Heslington with some friends in the second and third years, and got married a few years after graduation.We have two children, Holly and Tom, both of whom are also York graduates. Holly did a BA in History, followed by an MA in 18th Century Studies. Tom did the MEng in Computer Science.
And as a final York link, Holly also met her future husband, Simon Owen, when they were both living in Halifax college in their first year at York.
Geoff Wakeling (Economics & Economic and Social History, Langwith, 1973) and Annette Wakeling nee Mills (Biology, Wentworth, 1975)
During the first week of the new academic year in 1972 a long haired Geoff Wakeling, dressed in a fetching pair of flared jeans, sleeveless denim shirt, black t shirt, and faux black leather jacket, went to Langwith Bar to down a pint of his usual Masham Ales “Old Peculiar” – and to meet some of the Freshers. Sitting at one of the tables in a group of Freshers was his dream girl, a petite, smiling, blonde haired vision in a blue plastic mac. Geoff was totally and utterly smitten and, although it took months of wooing, eventually Annette Mills grew to tolerate the long hair, appalling dress sense, and Geoff’s devotion to music (often at the expense of academic work, especially because of time spent playing in Folk Rock group “Farndale”, and jamming with like minded musically talented friends like Steve Aylward, Dave Philips, & Graham Platts). By the time Geoff left York in 1973 he and Annette were dating, and by late 1975, after Annette graduated, they were married. Thirty eight years later in 2014 they are still happily married, with two sons, both of whom were lucky enough to also experience University life.
George Smith (Chemistry, Derwent, 1973) and Margaret Smith (Biology, Derwent, 1973)
We met at a Gordon Giltrap concert in the Lower JCR a few weeks after the start of my first year at University. We exchanged just a few words at the first meeting but were both part of a group of friends that socialised together all the time at York and started going out together in our final year. We were married the following year. Coincidentally my son Niall also studied at York (English) and married Rachel, a Pschology student. Sadly both were Langwith people.
Anthony Collins (Mathematics with Education, Langwith, 1974) and Susan Collins nee Dickson (Mathematics with Education, Derwent, 1974)
We arrived for the same course and met in an Education seminar on just about the first day of the First Year. It wasn’t love at first sight though as we both went out with other people during the first and second years – and finally got together at the start of the third year. Doing the same course we already knew each other quite well.We got engaged during the third year, although didn’t make it public until after we graduated. We both did a PGCE year and spent much of it at the same school.We married in 1976 and here we are today.The ‘then’ picture was taken before the Rugby Club dinner, in 1974, in the gardens of Fairfax House (where we both lived at the time).
The ‘now’ picture shows us at our son’s PhD graduation in Sheffield (where he now lectures – in Engineering). Our daughter graduated from Bangor University.
Helen Lennon (Medieval Studies, Goodricke, 1974) and Donald Lennon (Medieval Studies, Langwith, 1974)
Met at the introductory sherry party in King’s Manor at the beginning of the year (October 1972). 13 of us on the B.Phil. course that year. Donald says he knew instantly that he would marry me – I was avoiding the other Americans on the course, so it took a bit longer. We became good friends, but nothing more. We ended up doing the same thesis (stained glass of St. Michael’s Spurriergate) under the supervision of Peter Newton. By the end of the program (Sept. 1973) we had agreed to move to New York City together when we returned to the US. Which we did. This year is our 40th wedding anniversary.
During my first term in 1972, I put a notice around the tables to start a Gilbert & Sullivan Society. Anyone interested should call at my room Vanbrugh C003. Pam knocked on the door and we first met. However, in retrospect, it might have been better if I had got dressed before answering the door.
Pamela Keevil (History, Langwith, 1975) and Peter Keevil (Linguistics and education, Derwent, 1976)
It was on the very first Saturday afternoon of Fresher’s week in October 1972. There was a meeting at Bede House where Rev John Freeth, the chaplain had invited people with a link to the church to meet up. I was sitting down on the floor with a fellow student called Barbara when a young man with floppy blonde hair and gold rimmed glasses came in with his leather jacketed, leather booted friend. They introduced themselves as Peter and Colin. As I looked at Peter, it went through my head that here was the man I was going to marry. But those days were not all plain sailing and there were some ups and downs early on but we married in 1975 and are still together.It was wonderful to be young, in love and studying in a fabulous university with the magnificent city of York on our doorstep. We count ourselves to be very lucky indeed.
Marna Blundy (Music, Wentworth, 1975) and Howard Blundy (Physics, Goodricke, 1973)
Marna was in her first year, and had a third year Music student friend, Kevin Jones, living on the same corridor in Wentworth. One weekend Kevin invited some friends to his room – I think he was telling ‘penguin stories’! – and one of his third year friends came along. Howard met Marna in Kevin’s room and the rest, as they say, is history.
We married two years later, the same week as Marna’s graduation, and will this year celebrate our 39th wedding anniversary. In those years we have raised five sons (one of whom read Music Technology at York – a real mix of his parents’ skills) and now have four daughters-in-law and nearly five grandchildren.
We both retired from teaching last year, and continue busy lives in West Cornwall, where we have lived for 35 years.
Pamela Marriott (nee Lloyd) (Chemistry, Alcuin, 1976) and Paul Marriott (Chemistry, Vanburgh and Wentworth, 1975 (BA) and 1979 (DPhil))
We both met and went out with other partners for almost our whole time at York but those relationships ended towards the end of my final year when Paul was already a grad student and I knew him as someone who liked to hold conversations loudly across the physical chemistry lab. I was sad to be leaving York but managed to extend my stay just a little longer by landing a summer job taking inventory in Chemistry stores and since there were only grad students around campus during the summer I hung around with Paul and his group. I remember 1976 as being a beautiful summer – but was that because it was the summer Paul and I started going out? I began my first job back in my hometown, Liverpool, but soon managed to land another (computer programmers only had to prove an aptitude at that time) back in York at Rowntrees and in my memory those were lovely times in York, a beautiful city, and on campus going out with a Chemistry demonstrator (as an undergraduate I was impressed by the demonstrators for whom the practicals always worked). We married in 1978 just before Paul’s DPhil viva and post-doc position so that we could come to Canada as husband and wife (otherwise my travel expenses wouldn’t have been covered) but, even though that was our pragmatic reason, we always planned on staying together and, here we are still rubbing along, two Canadian daughters, and Paul’s career in the Chemical Industry later, just embarking on an adventure in the Canadian back-country with a plot of land, a tractor and all kinds of Permaculture plans in our heads.
Steve Griffiths (Music, Alcuin, 1976) and Mary Griffiths nee Sudbery (Biology, Alcuin, 1976)
Alcuin JCR bop, November 9th 1973. The Jean Genie on the stereo and a couple of drinks from the college bar (12p a pint, if memory serves). We had bumped into each other a few times since arriving as freshers in October, but something clicked that night. Biology and Music are next door to each other, and Vanburgh was a convenient meeting place during the working day. Evenings when I wasn’t involved in rehearsals or concerts were spent in Alcuin bar with friends. Table football and Pong were the games, and the juke box played Mud, Mott the Hoople, Suzi Quatro and 10cc. In the summer we played cricket on the grass banks above the main road. We married a couple of months after graduating, moved around for a few years but came back to live in York in 1988 with our four children. The 1970s drab and depressing? Happy Days.
Patricia Marie Cassidy (nee Rowland) (History, Vanbrugh, 1978) and Graham John Alexander Cassidy (History, Vanbrugh, 1978)
Graham and I met on our very first evening at York University in October 1975. The venue was the Christian Union Welcome Evening – ironic, given that Graham is adamantly non-religious. The lure of free alcohol provided the fatal attraction for many of us who attended that event – and on that first evening, introductions were made that resulted in many enduring friendships.
Disappointingly for the romantically inclined, ours was never a case of an immediate fatal attraction. Over the next three years, Graham and I became best friends, and then somewhere part-way through the third year, we became an item. More a case of “slow burn” rather than spontaneous combustion! We married a year after graduating, moved to Doncaster, and almost 35 years on we are still hanging on in there. We have two children of whom we are very proud. Fiona is 29 and also a graduate of York University. She works as a commercial lawyer in London for Clyde and Co. Johnnie is 25 and a Health and Safety Consultant for Cushman and Wakefield.
We were very privileged to enjoy a fantastic three years at York University 1975-8, and had a great circle of friends, some of whom we are still in touch with. Ian Davies, for example, could never quite break ties with the place and is currently a Professor of Education at York. Paul Walker is god-father to our daughter, and Graham is god-father to his twins. Our roll-call of friends from that time include Geoff Gibson, Martin Hoffman (not forgetting Moira), Joy Cocking, Suzanne Barker, Ann Whitehead, Chrissie Bourne, Rose Smith, Kate Taplin, Caroline Foster, Mike McCrosty, Dave Lewis, Ludolf Van Hasalt, Tim Bailey, Simon Wake ….. just wondering where some of them are now.
Professor J A Aylmer was Head of the History Department during our time there. Graham’s supervisor was Professor Norman Hampson – he and his wife very kindly sent a gift when our daughter was born. Other inspirational or memorable tutors included Alan Warren, Bill Trythell, Ted Royle and Jim Walvin. Jim Sharpe once memorably wrote on one of my essays – “At least marking this is better than being on the dole!” I never forgot that, but fortunately it didn’t scar me for life!
So where did our respective History degrees lead us? In Graham’s case – initially to three years as a trainee accountant with Peat, Marwick and Mitchell, until he left to follow his heart and become a police officer in South Yorkshire. He is currently National Secretary of the Police Superintendents Association in Pangbourne, Berkshire, and retires this year at the end of March.
In my case, I worked briefly in a mental hospital in Morpeth, Northumberland. Last year I retired from a teaching career in Doncaster. I am a Farmington Fellow of Harris Manchester College, Oxford. Currently I work part-time as an Education Consultant for Doncaster Council, and also part-time as a Befriender for Sue Ryder, supporting families coping with Dementia.
Life is good!
Janet Sleath (Chemistry, Derwent, 1978) and Paul R. Sleath (Chemistry, Langwith, 1978(BA), 1982 (PhD))
Paul and I both lived in Fairfax House for all three of our years at York. We were introduced at a Fairfax party shortly after the start of our first year by a fellow chemistry student and both gradually became part of a very close-knit group of six chemistry students and one maths student who all lived at Fairfax (I was the only woman in the group!). Towards the end of our first year, Paul and I realized that we were becoming more than just friends. Our first date was an afternoon at Castle Howard. The rest, as they say, is history.We got engaged about a year later and married just after we finished our finals, in June 1978. All our friends from the original group were at the wedding.We stayed in York for Paul to do his D. Phil. in organic chemistry and moved to US for Paul to do a post-doc. We’ve been here ever since. We recently celebrated our older daughter’s graduation from Western Washington University, in Bellingham, Washington state, as you can see in the recent photo.