a centenary
of Learning

  • 85
  • by Beryl Collins
  • graduated 1992
  • studied Other Studies
  • from UK

Some of the happiest days of my working life.

It doesn’t seem possible that I have been retired for 21 years, but some of the happiest days of my working life were spent for 18 years, between 1974 and 1992, working at the School of Education, as it was called then, in the Advanced studies department covering Diploma, MEd and PhDs. I was one of the secretaries in room 305 on third floor working for several academics. In those days, we used to meet to have coffee in the small machine room where the Gestetner was housed and after a while several of the academics would join us.

I saw many changes during this time. Having worked in a small private school using a ‘sit up and beg’ typewriter, I was faced with using an electric one, that seemed to jump all over the place. As time went on we gained one computer that we had to sign in for 1 hour slots without any proper tuition. Eventually, we all had our own computer, which was a great help, but I still used my shorthand and enjoyed taking dictation from the different tutors I worked for.

Some may remember me from driving my very old little cream A35 car, which I was able to park under the building.

At that time we had a lot of overseas students coming mainly to do a 2-year diploma course, many of who were very lonely and had difficulty in communicating with their families - no mobile phones or skype in those days. So with so many overseas students arriving at the University of Bristol my church, Christ Church Clifton, formed an International Visitors Committee and we started putting on free lunches about 3 times a term and also running a hosting scheme for those students who would like to be invited for a meal in a home. We had many students to our home over the years and have visited many countries where we have been entertained by some of them and are still in touch with many through emails.

On one occasion about 30 years ago, one of the Namibian students wanted to get married in Christ Church and as a result with the help of some of the academic and support staff we gave her and her Nigerian husband a fantastic wedding reception for at least 100 or more; cars with ribbons on and flowers for the church. It was a very colourful occasion with a mixture of cultures coming together. I am glad to say that this work is still continuing with many coming to these events. Some of these students return to their countries to take up high positions, one PhD student, Pearlette Louise, became Governor of St. Lucia and was given an honorary degree from the university and made a Dame by the Queen.

Recently we had a Chinese student staying, Jing, who did a Master’s degree 8 years ago came and stay with her 5 year old daughter. She was keen to see the Education Department and we were met by one of the friendly porters who she had remembered. I also can remember the porters who gave such a good impression to those coming in and were always so helpful. I think she saw a big change in the department with a new layout and it looking very modern.

It was great working with such a good number of colleagues. We are all getting older, but I like to think of those happy days with a lot of laughter, and work of course. I am still in touch with many former colleagues and fondly remember those that have now passed away.

Thank you to the University of Bristol for 18 happy years and for enabling me to know so many interesting people; both staff and students. They were good days.