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Magical milestone for alumni

A group of alumni returned to campus for a special visit fifty years after graduating. The group, most of whom studied physical education between 1971 and 1975 at the-then West Midlands College of Education, has held regular reunions over the years, and travelled from around the UK to be together at what is now Walsall Campus.

Clive Thomas, reunion organiser, said: “Reunions tend to take place every five years or so. We keep in touch via WhatsApp, emails, and even letters (still!). We also still visit each other, whether that be in Australia, Sweden or Brewood. Indeed, my daughter was able to stay with a college friend for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.”

The Campus and the early 70s hold fond memories for Clive and the group. To take a trip down memory lane and tour the campus and facilities as they are now, was cause for celebration for the group. For many, it’s been half a century since they last set foot in the place they once called home.

Clive said: “Visiting the university - we still call it the college - was quite nostalgic and much discussion took place in the evening as to how much it had changed and yet remained the same. I’m glad to say that there are way too many memories to mention. It really was a special time, and since it was a teacher training college it didn’t matter what subject you took, you were all likely to attend one or two lectures with each other.

“The college had a real homely feel with people coming from all over the country and bonding. There was so much fun to be had, and perhaps we were able to enjoy the “full student experience”. Many of us remained in the Walsall area for quite a while afterwards. I even married a girl who lived on the corner of Gorway Road, who wasn’t a student!"

Following graduation, many in the group had successful careers in education, while some achieved professional sporting successes.

“As all of us were students training to become teachers, most of us remained within the education system, some becoming headteachers, LEA advisors, passionate classroom teachers, and – ‘he who shall not be named’ – an OFSTED inspector! 

“Jane Swinnerton-Irons represented Great Britain at hockey; Les Cusworth represented Leicester and England at Rugby and coached the Argentina national team; and many others represented counties and other representative sides in rugby, football, hockey, cricket. I must mention Phil Wade too, who until recently was still plying his trade at circuits such as Donington as a member of a motorcycle sidecar pairing. At the age of 69. Utter madness!”

Get in touch if you’re interested in returning to campus or hosting a reunion. alumni@wlv.ac.uk