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And Tom makes three for Heritage family

John Heritage Jnr and son Tom

Sussex graduates John Heritage (90), from Seaford and his son John (56) celebrate today (Wednesday 21 July) as son and grandson Tom (29) graduates with a prize-winning Masters degree in Social Work.

John Heritage Snr graduated from Sussex in 1975 with a degree in Education, just as son John was embarking on a doctorate in Biochemistry, which he was awarded in 1979.

"Given the age of the University of Sussex, I am assuming that there are not too many other occasions when three generations of the same family will have graduated from the University," says second-generation graduate Dr John Heritage, who now teaches in the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Leeds.

Today, both are delighted and proud to see a third-generation Heritage graduate - and the third member of the family to regard it as a life-changing opportunity.

Grandfather John, didn't have the chance to go to university until he was able to do an "in service" degree at Sussex while head of careers at Seaford Head School in East Sussex.

He says: "Being deprived of a grammar school education as a boy and entering teaching as an emergency measure after the Second World War, it was an enormous privilege to get an academic qualification from the University of Sussex. Of course, I am very proud now of Tom's achievement."

Father John thought his academic career was over after a disappointing first degree result, but he was given a chance to shine at Sussex, under the tutelage of Professor Peter Whittaker in the department of biochemistry, while training as a clinical scientist in Eastbourne at the same time.

During his time at Sussex young John rubbed shoulders with eminent scientists such as the biochemist Tom Blundell and the evolutionary biologist John Maynard Smith. John says: "My abiding memory was the biology common room and tea bar. All the academics would meet there - some of them big names - to chat, gossip and share ideas."

John went on to work at Guy's Hospital in London, then with some of the most eminent clinical scientists in the UK, including Richard Lacey, who foretold the transmission of BSE to humans.

Son Tom had been working as an assistant psychologist when he decided we wanted to be of more direct use to vulnerable people in society, so he decided to take up one of the best Social Work  MA courses in the country - at Sussex.

Having won the department's John Simmonds Award for outstanding academic achievement, Tom is now a social worker in Yorkshire, and is considering further academic study in the subject. 


Last updated: Wednesday, 21 July 2010