November 15, 2013, by Malvika Johal

Alumni celebrate their Golden Reunion!

One of my favourite things about working in Alumni Relations is seeing groups of old friends come together at reunions, there is always a quiet hum of excitement within the room as people are not sure what to expect; unsure who they will  recognise and who will remember them.   Then as people begin to arrive, you see the shocked excited faces, people pointing in disbelief as they recognise old friends and as groups begin to reminisce the volume of the room becomes increasingly louder. In no time at all their common interests and stories which brought them together at university have done so again.

The University held the Golden Reunion as we do every year for those alumni who started or graduated 50 years ago at the end of October and the formula for a fantastic event was in place. The event was fully booked, our in-house catering team had been working hard to provide a delicious lunch and later an afternoon tea, there were talks from the Deputy V.C and the current Student Union president alongside tours of University Park and Jubilee Campuses.

As guests arrived and began registering, collecting   their welcome packs it was wonderful as people began remembering the building and spotting old friends.In some cases the recognition was almost instantaneous, one guest commented that he couldn’t recognise everyone but their voices soon gave them away. It got me  thinking about the University in 1963, with far fewer students and buildings, no international or even Jubilee campuses, it is quite different today. Perhaps it is the changes that compelled so many alumni to return alongside reconnecting with old friends, returning to visit old haunts, and taking a trip down memory lane.

We took pictures from the era and created displays, many people spotted themselves or friends and the conversations that followed were fascinating. Our current student ambassadors enjoyed speaking to alumni, unable to comprehend single sex halls, early curfews and strict hall wardens or matrons as they were known. Similarly our alumni were interested to hear about life in mixed halls, new subjects and whether Mooch (known as the Buttery in 1963) was still in the Portland Building!

Talking to groups throughout the day I was delighted by the fact that so many were off to private dinners they had organised or had already planned their next reunion.  Phone numbers and email address were exchanged and we asked guests to leave memories of their time here, which can be seen in the album below. Click here to see all the pictures from the event.

I wonder if I will return to my Alma Mater 50 years down the line, will I recognise people and remember old stories as vividly as the 1963-66 groups?  – I certainly hope I will.

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