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50 years after starting at Sussex, 21 alumni return

L-R (all 1968): Mike (Billy) Watson (ENGG), Ivan Lindley (BIOLS), Roger Wallsgrove (BIOLS), Dave Cotterill (MAPS), Martin Abram (MAPS), Ian Squires (MAPS), Brian Dale (MOLS), Chris Dornier (MAPS), Dave (Jock) Hepburn (ENGG), Dave Sams (BIOLS)

L-R: Christine Pinder née Gibson, Daphne Pitois née Spencer-Jones, Ray Wilshaw, Mike Clark, Edith Pollock née Bond, Janet Shaw née Liddell, Barry Landsberg, Linda Landsberg née Woodhead, Diana Tombs née Melissaropoulou, John Grimmette.

Ray Wilshaw (far left) and Christine Pinder née Gibson (second from left) with friends Laurie and John on campus in 1971.

At most universities September is linked with freshers' week and a new influx of wide-eyed students. But for alumni it’s often a time for reflection and reconnecting with old university friends. This year we welcomed two groups of former students back to campus to celebrate 50 years since they first met as undergraduates.

Ian Squires (MAPS 1968) was one of ten science and engineering students who marked 50 years since starting at Sussex in 1968 with a September reunion. 

Communal living

After being placed together off campus in Rodney House, they developed a bond through their close proximity and a shared love of sport, and decided to move in to a house in Hove together for their second and third years.

Cooking and grocery shopping duties were split and shared living worked well: “We had a communal TV room and plenty of space for the odd party – the four of us downstairs used to brew our own beer (‘Double Daphne’) every Sunday.”

When they graduated in 1971, several of the friends stayed in contact, but without the luxury of social media it proved difficult to keep up with each other’s lives – despite a few successful reunions overs the years.

Together again

In 2017, Ian had a vision that they would reassemble the following year to celebrate the half-century milestone in Falmer.

Fast-forward 12 months and the group found themselves once again co-habiting a space in Brighton (albeit for two nights only this time), even recreating their 1960s sleeping arrangements in twin bedrooms and cooking meals together against a backdrop of nostalgic 1968 tunes.

A campus tour hosted by the University’s alumni team highlighted for Ian how much the campus had grown since the early days: “Whilst the original ‘bare bones’ were still in evidence, there were clearly many more buildings, more landscaping and more mature trees than we could remember.”

Alumni connections

Coincidentally the tour crossed paths at one point with alumna and early East Slope resident Joanna Lozinska (MAPS 1977), who had called into the Chichester building to see one of her old lecture theatres. She was invited to campus as the winner of a competition to cut the ribbon at the opening of the new East Slope residences

After taking in the familiar surroundings of old common rooms and teaching spaces, the tour ended with a round of drinks in Falmer Bar before they headed into town to reacquaint themselves with the best of Brighton’s Lanes, pubs and seafront.

Ian said: “It had been great to all get back together again after 50 years and – without wishing to tempt fate – we have agreed to try and make a return date in June or July of 2021 to celebrate 50 years since our graduation!”

Stories of the swinging sixties

A couple of weeks earlier, Christine Pinder (SOC 1968) and eleven of her fellow alumni were also reunited. The group – who are now based all over the UK and Europe – meet annually, but the special anniversary made Brighton the natural choice of venue this time.

They all started at Sussex in either 1968 or 1969, meeting in classes or shared accommodation, or through a mutual love of rambling, folk dancing and music.

Their visit inevitably took in a trip to campus. Students in Falmer Bar were fascinated to hear from Christine and her friends about what Sussex was like in the 60s and 70s, and especially to hear stories of some of the infamous gigs that were hosted on campus in its early days – including, of course, Jimi Hendrix and The Who.

Turning the page

The group were also delighted to be given an impromptu tour of the library by librarian Maria Menezes, noting how much it has grown since their time at the University.

Christine said: “Our Brighton reunion was a brilliant experience, with lots of memories, nostalgia and reminiscing. It all felt so familiar, yet it was all so long ago.”

Inspired to gather some old classmates for a reunion to celebrate an upcoming anniversary? Alumni are always welcome on campus. Get in touch at alumni@sussex.ac.uk if you’d like to arrange a tour, or have any questions about visiting us. 


By: Tom Furnival-Adams
Last updated: Tuesday, 9 October 2018

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