University alumni recall Christmas past

University alumni recall Christmas past

A group of university students who marked Christmas in song at the Lancaster campus of the University of Cumbria almost half a century ago have revisited the site.

In December 1973 Hugh Pollard was principal of St. Martin’s College, the forerunner to the university. Dr Pollard never married and devoted his life to his students and was awarded the OBE in 1976 for services to education. He lived alone on the hill-top campus in a Scandanavian designed house. Gordon Basterfield, together with a group of other teacher training students, decided it would be a kind gesture to sing carols for the principal.

Fast-forward forty-five years and the group of carol singers returned to the campus. Gordon along with Brian Beresford and John Corran, all from the starting class of 1971, returned to take a trip down memory lane and see a special book the principal insisted they sign.

Gordon recounts: “We thought of him all alone in that house and how we might make him smile by singing him some Christmas carols.”

“I think he was very touched that we had decided to do that.”

In fact Dr Pollard thought so much of the gesture that he invited the students to all sign his visitor book which is still held among the archives on the Lancaster campus.

“Signing the visitor book was quite the honour, and it meant a lot to us,” Gordon said. ”The book was reserved for VIP guests and the pages hold the names of royalty, senior council and educational officials, plus media celebrities and senior leaders in the church. Dr Pollard was very well connected!”

Joanne Lusher, the University of Cumbria alumni relations officer together with Anna Stephens the university’s acquisitions development officer met with the group. Anna sourced some archive materials from the St.Martin’s College collections held in the library including of course the all important visitor book.  Joanne was very keen to show the group the student directory from when they started. The St. Martin’s archive holds directories for each year group, made up of a physical book containing passport sized photographs of each student with their name underneath together with their tutor’s name.

“It’s fantastic to have these in our collection” Joanne explains. “I like to think of them as early incarnations of Facebook. Whilst we sadly do not have a full alumni database going back to our legacy institution days, we do hold all the faces of our St. Martin’s alumni.  They are such a treasure and an important resource for our alumni.”

If you would like to visit the university’s archives or arrange a campus visit or reunion, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the alumni association alumni@cumbria.ac.uk

Picture caption: L-R: John Corran, Brian Beresford and Claire Beresford, Gordon Basterfield and  Elizabeth Basterfield in the Harold Bridges Library with the St. Martin’s College visitor book.