Love in the first degree

For more than 50 years, the University has been home and workplace to thousands of students and staff and subsequently many lasting friendships have been forged and relationships celebrated.

Alix Courtney and Ian Macfarlane

Alix Courtney (History 1990) and Ian Macfarlane (Physics 1987) married in 1994 on a boiling hot day in August and celebrated with family and friends in East Slope Bar.

"It was a lot of fun. We had about 200 of our Uni friends celebrate with us along with family from far and wide who were a bit bewildered to find themselves in a student bar with a hogroast as the wedding dinner. It was strange seeing everyone dressed up so smart in East Slope."

Still living locally and with two children, they have lots of connections with Sussex and are often back on campus. Alix said: "I had a great time at Sussex and gained a large number of brilliant friends who I still see often." 

Mike Cohen and Doreen Lassman

Still going strong after 43 years, Mike Cohen (Economics 1964) met his wife Doreen Lassman (European Studies 1965) in her first week at Sussex and they married in September 1969.

Now enjoying active retirements and being with their grandchildren, Mike and Doreen still live close to the University retaining ‘many local connections and fond memories’ of their time on campus. 
Pictured: Mike and Doreen on holiday with their daughter

Mike and Doreen on holiday

Satu Vilkama and Andrew Spratley

Satu Vilkama (International Relations with French 2002) and Andrew Spratley (Artificial Intelligence 2002) became a couple after living as housemates on Coombe Road with their friends Nick and Annicken, in their second year of university. Satu recalls their long distance relationship starting when she moved to France for a year abroad. 

"Following graduation I moved to Finland in 2008 after gaining a traineeship at the Finnish Foreign Ministry and Andy followed me here a year later in summer 2009.  We are now both living in Helsinki and are getting married in the summer, 10 years after meeting at Sussex. Sussex and Brighton will always have a special place in my heart."

Married in the Meeting House

Paul Fisher (ENGAM 1969) was in his second year studying English and American history when he found the ideal venue for marrying Gwen, his childhood sweetheart – the iconic Meeting House.

They revisited in 2011, on their 40th anniversary, taking along friends, children and grandchildren.

Yugin Teo and Amy Prior

Yugin Teo (English 2001) and Amy Prior (Geography 2001) started going out in 2003 when Amy was in her final year and Yugin was a DPhil student.

"We were both part of the Meeting House community and met through the activities there. We got married in the Meeting House on 9 September 2006 in a lovely ceremony conducted by Gavin Ashenden that everyone still remembers fondly. 

"We both still live in Brighton. Amy has recently finished her training to be a primary school teacher and I am currently working at Sussex as an Associate Tutor in the Schools of English and Media, Film and Music, and as a Projects Coordinator in the School of Education and Social Work."

Alexandra Loske and Jeremy Page

Doctoral researcher Alexandra Loske and the Deputy Director of the Sussex Language Centre, Jeremy Page, first met on campus and this was one of the reasons why they chose to get married in the Meeting House, although Alexandra ended up having to get changed into her wedding dress in one of the offices.

They also revisited the Meeting House for the christening of their ‘Sussex baby’ daughter Flora.

Alexandra's research has also been connected with the Meeting House. Read her blogs on colour research.

Alexandra and Jeremy getting married in the meeting house

Debashree Mitra and Rahul Singh

Debashree Mitra (MA Education Studies 2008) and Rahul Singh (MA Automotive Engineering 2008) met at the Diwali gathering on campus, where Rahul was the host, and they kept on meeting thereafter, ie. on the bus stop to Asda.

They have now been married for two years, Debashree said: "Sussex has a special place in our hearts to say the least."

Eric Baker and Cherry Slater

Eric Baker (International Relations 1966) and Cherry Slater (Sociology 1967) met in 1968 and were married in 1969, before Eric's MA and Cherry's final year at Sussex, during which they lived in a flat with battlements and a roof terrace above the clock tower - great for parties.

A few decades on, after a spell in Australia, then careers in IT and teaching, they are enjoying retirement in West London, travelling extensively, looking after grandchildren one day a week and having plenty of time for friends and family.

Paul Jervis and Patricia Manley

Paul Jervis and his wife Trish were married at the Meeting House on Saturday 21 September 1968 by then University chaplain Rev. Dr. Daniel Jenkins. Paul was a research fellow at the Science Policy Research Unit at Sussex, where he met Trish, who also worked in the department as a secretary.

The wedding was covered by the local Argus newspaper, which reported that the bride "wore a gown of ribbon lace and crepe and a satin-rimmed veil" and that "the reception was held at the South Lounge of the University Refectory".

Over 45 years later, the couple are still married, and recently attended our alumni reception at the House of Lords.

Paul and Trish Jervis wedding at the Meeeting House, 1968 2

Bernd Kaussler and Diar Ataian

When Bernd Kaussler (AFRAS 1999) arrived at Sussex for the first time after a gruelling ten-hour drive from Germany, Diar Ataian (AFRAS 1999) was literally the first person he saw, dragging her suitcase across the steep East Slope car park. Bernd said:

"I kindly offered my help but was rejected. It turned out we were both studying International Relations and ended up in the same seminar as well as living next door on East Slope (clearly, the most romantic of all dormitories).

"Somehow, I managed to convince her that I was a nice chap and put 'international relations' into practice."

Following that initial success, Bernd eventually proposed to Diar at the Grand Hotel in Brighton, and they married at a country estate outside Gothenburg in her native Sweden in September 2000. Thirteen years later the couple are still happily married and live in Virginia, US with their three children, Soraya (7), Shirin (6) and Dariush (2).

Tom Burnell and Rosie Mulhern

Tom and Rosie (both Psychology 2003) met at Sussex through a shared love of sport; Tom being the men's rugby club captain and Rosie the social secretary for the women's football team. It was an impromptu bungee jump for RAG over boiler house car park that first made her realise she'd fallen for him, after deciding that he was the one person she wanted to be there.

Almost exactly ten years after starting at Sussex they tied the knot at a ceremony in Hove in August 2013 and had their reception in Falmer Bar surrounded by friends, family and fellow alumni - some of whom were shocked to see how stylish the Hot House could be.

The couple have just bought their first house in Bristol, where Rosie works as a maths teacher and Tom in logistics.

Mark Pretty and Cynthia Woodward

Mark Pretty (AFRAS 1976) and Cynthia Woodward (EURO 1976) met in their first term: "36 years later we are still together and have lived in Sydney Australia for the past 20 years. We have four children and a great life."

Despite living on the other side of the world for so long, Mark still supports Brighton & Hove Albion and last year he and Cynthia came back to the UK and couldn’t resist a visit to Sussex ‘for a wander around the Uni to visit all our favourite spots in Brighton and near surrounds’.

Nigel Ward and Frances Ward (née Moor)

Frances (EURO 1968) and Nigel (ENGG 1968) met in their first term at Sussex in 1968 and married in September 1970 - before they’d even graduated. Frances was due to go abroad for her third year but the University Senate allowed her to reverse her third and fourth years on the condition that she and Nigel married.

After leaving Sussex they taught in an International School in Switzerland for a year. Nigel then embarked on a career in International Sales and Marketing and Frances became a teacher and then a dyslexia specialist. The couple have two children and four grandchildren. Nigel and Frances recently celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary and returned to campus in August 2015 to celebrate the life of Lord Attenborough at a special event held at the newly refurbished Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts.

Stephanie Alldritt and Martin Geisen

Stephanie Alldritt (EURO 1975) and Martin Geisen (ENGG 1975) met in their first term and have been married since 1981. They have two daughters aged 25 and 22. "Our time at Sussex remains a very happy memory for both of us." Stephanie said.

Neil Murray and Anne Murray (née Tyers)

"I met my 'other half' at Sussex, right at the very end of the first year (1976-77), when I was, er, occupied with someone else. That relationship broke up, and I was discussing my solo status with my younger brother, because we both reckoned that this had to change, and I said, thoughtfully: 'Well, I just met this rather interesting girl....'

"Come the start of the second year, and our paths crossed again - I was reading Law and she was reading Biochemistry, so ordinarily we wouldn't have met, but we had friends in common. By the end of the second year, I'd decided that this was who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. It was obvious.

"I proposed while drunk and she, equally pickled, accepted, and we announced our engagement at the end of the second year. She was doing a three-year course, and I was on four, so it was quite a long engagement, but we got married in 1981 at the tender age of 23.

"So we and our grown-up children will celebrate our ruby wedding anniversary in a couple of years. Thanks, Anne Murray, née Tyers, it's been fun and plenty more fun to come.

"Oh, yeah, and to our mutual friends Paul Kennett, Paul Kempster, Tarana Subhi, Janaki Moonesigne, Richard Keeling et al, who took her aside and tried to warn her off me, saying that I was 'unreliable' - a loud and very affectionate raspberry." - Neil Murray (EURO 1976).

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