Hundreds of University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) alumni travelled from far and wide to relive their student days at a special celebratory event in Preston.
Graduates from the 1940s right through to the 2020s took a nostalgic walk down memory lane at the institution’s first reunion event for all alumni from all subjects and all years.
The day was jam-packed with a range of tours and guest lectures and culminated in a talk from UCLan Honorary Fellow and Cold Feet actor John Thomson.
One of the attendees was 90-year-old Rosemary Robinson who graduated in shorthand and typing in 1948 and went on to work at Leyland Motors. She said: “It was Harris College back when I came but we all called it going to school. All the girls were on one floor and the boys on another. Things have changed a lot since then, but I like coming back and speaking to other people who studied here at the same time.”
A couple who met at UCLan in the early 2000s travelled from Derbyshire to show their three young children where it all started. It was 2005 forensic science graduate Amy Bishop-Powell and her 2004 motorsports engineering graduate husband Paul’s first trip back to Preston.
Amy said: “I can’t believe how it’s changed so much since we both left. It’s just absolutely fantastic to see how it’s developed and what great facilities are here for today’s students. It’s been really lovely to show Reuben, Logan and Saffron where mummy and daddy met.”
UCLan’s Canoe Club in the late 1990s brought together now husband and wife Chris and Hannah Bull. The couple, who have two teenage daughters, returned to the campus with friend and fellow alumnus Martin Stork.
History graduate Hannah said: “I’m a primary school teacher so I keep coming back with my school to UCLan’s fantastic Lancashire Science Festival, but I wanted to come along to be able to look around and revisit some of the old haunts. It’s been a great opportunity to think back and talk about such happy times.”
An MBA graduate, who combined her studies with working for BAE, took the opportunity to see the recent campus developments first-hand and to hear how the University is producing the next generation of industry professionals.
Maria Sumner, who completed a Diploma in Management Studies in 1995, her MBA in 1997 and a Postgraduate Certificate in Criminology and Criminal Justice in 2003, commented: “There have been lots of developments recently, so I wanted to see for myself what has been created and it’s wonderful.
“It was also really lovely to hear from the Vice-Chancellor, who has been involved with the University for a long time and is clearly passionate about its future.”
Entertainment throughout the day included a silent disco, a dance performance from alumni and music from UCLan’s Samba Drummers while artefacts from the University’s archives were also on display.
Actor and comedian John Thomson, who grew up in the city, was the star attraction for many in attendance. He said: “I was truly humbled and so proud when the University awarded me with an Honorary Fellowship in 2017. With that position comes a responsibility to help UCLan in any way I can so I was delighted to be asked back to take part in such a special event.”
The University has a global alumni community of more than 200,000 graduates. At Saturday’s event, graduates travelled from across the UK, including Cornwall, London and the Midlands.
Maggie Wild, UCLan’s Head of Development and Alumni, added: “It was fantastic to hear so many heart-warming stories from graduates who studied at Harris College, Preston Polytechnic, Lancashire Polytechnic and UCLan.
“The hundreds who attended hold the institution so close to their hearts and it was clear to see the love they have for the place has never diminished. Seeing some of our oldest alumni, who are now in their 90s, chatting to a couple of 2023 graduates was lovely as they’ve had such different educational experiences but UCLan has drawn them together.”