It follows that these three years must have been a magnificent experience in my life given that, 45 years on, I am delighted to donate funds for the benefit of the university and its students.
Where to start?
How about in Autumn 1974, and at Rutherford College.
I had arrived at my landlady’s house in Hillside Avenue the previous day and on my first morning at university, walked along University Road to UKC (and ended up chatting to another newcomer with whom I’m still in contact).
1974 – 1977
It follows that these three years must have been a magnificent experience in my life given that, 45 years on, I am delighted to donate funds for the benefit of the university and its students. The difficulty is to try to encapsulate this into one or two short paragraphs. I decided that I would try to summarize by highlighting some key memories.
- I remember my first term because it was probably
the loneliest period of my life. It took some time to make the transition from
being a typical product of an all male private school to something closer to a
normal member of society. Even now, some would say I have not been totally
successful. Probably, though, this personal development was the most important
part of the whole of the 3 year period at Kent, and why any memories of the
university and Canterbury are very warm ones.
- In February 1975 I asked a red haired girl called
Janet out for a drink (to the Beverly, now Ye Olde Beverlie) just past Darwin
College. A fatal mistake. We married in 1982 and are approaching our
- On the work front, there were roughly 10 hours
of lectures and seminars each week. I recall, in my final year, having only 2
days (including weekends) on which I did not undertake some studying. Time was in plentiful supply and mixing study
and recreation was a wonderful way of life.
It was greatly assisted by the weather. In 1976 a minister for drought
was appointed - a most successful appointment
because it started raining the next day; happily the summer of 1977 was just as
- We discovered eating out, Canterbury had several
hamburger restaurants (Quines, Browns, Radigunds) and Sweeney Todd’s pizza parlour. They were both cheap and good fun, and we usually
went in groups of half a dozen or more.
We would watch the New Avengers (starring a very young Joanna Lumley) at
7pm in the television room, then walk down to Canterbury to eat. And we would
still be up at the crack of noon the next day to continue our studies.
- Given the good weather Janet and I became
frequent visitors to Joss Bay and Margate, using the slowest car on the road –
a Hillman Imp. It had its engine at the
back and at speeds over 45mph it overheated and ceased all operations.
- I played in the tennis team for UKC for 3 years
(usually at weekends). This meant
frequent trips to local Kent tennis clubs meeting the English middle classes at
play. Also, in a very weak year, I won
the 1977 UKC tennis championship (I would have a small wager that there is no
record of this).
- Finally, the summer of 1977, finals, and Janet and I each achieved a 2.1 in Accounting. We had the same tutor, John Freear (who later moved to Vermont) and he was kind enough to break down our marks over our 8 subjects which showed that I was a close runner up in a two horse race. I think I took this dreadful news quite well, which means that I must have then been better at turning the other cheek.
Later life - Work
It will surely not come as a great surprise that, armed with an accounting degree, the next step was to become a chartered accountant. I had no great desire to remain in practice and, having qualified in 1980, set off into industry. It was a roller coaster of three insolvencies in double quick time (for example, does anyone remember Augustus Barnett and Son – an off-licence chain) until 1986 when I entered financial services where I would spend the rest of my career, retiring from full time employment in 2006 at the age of 50. At that time I had planned it as a gap year, but it has gone one a bit longer than originally envisaged.
Since retiring, I have undertaken some consulting work (one main role continues) but the majority of my time is now focused on travel, domestic duties (cooking and gardening) and, principally, continuing to take part in several sporting pursuits as well as being a regular and keen spectator at Lord’s, the Oval, Wimbledon, Twickenham and Wembley with the recent addition of Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium.
I am lucky enough consequently to have a little time to prattle to the students who are kind enough to call and enliven my evenings.
So why am I a donor?
First, it would be rude to speak to these brave students (cold calling is not easy) and then do nothing. It makes this a very effective way to raise funds. Although these sums may be small, they may well establish a regular donating pattern which in the end will mount up.
Secondly, my wife and I are regular donors to several charities and I found that I wanted to add UKC to the list because it was a more personal cause.
Finally, I was very pleased to be contacted by the University and thus to have some continuing connection with it. Being a donor makes this connection somewhat closer.