Because of Bangor
Bangor alumni tell us why Bangor has a special place in their hearts.
- Clement Okia (2010, PhD Agroforestry)
- Malcolm McGreevy (1969, English)
- Andrew Thompson (1981, Zoology with Marine Zoology)
- Hassan Tariq (2011, MBA Marketing)
- Beryl Williams (1952, German)
- David Norris (1990, Marine Chemistry)
- Margaret Newens (1991, French/Russian)
- Dr Chris Barnes
- Sarah Bealey, nee Marlar (1981, Marine Biology/Oceanography)
- Paul Douglas Clark (1974, Forestry)
- Hazel (Jane) Crozier (1996, History)
- Sylvia Hampson (1940, English and French)
- Frances Barber (1978, English and Drama)
- Timothy Jones (2002, History)
- Samantha Davies (1999, English)
- John Jones (1980, Maths)
- Les Sayers (1978, Mathematics and Physical Oceanography)
- Eric Hepburn (1983, Banking and Finance)
- Santiago Carbo Valverde (1993, Economics)
- George Buckley (1993, Economics)
- Tim Clay (1982 , Marine Biology and Oceanography)
- Ged Bailes (1978, Psychology & PGCE)
- Elizabeth Hawkness-Smith (2009, Applied Linguistics)
I was in Bangor between from 2007 to 2010. I am now working as a scientist with the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) and also serving as ICRAF Country Representative in Uganda, which is an existing position. Bangor gave me a PhD in agroforestry - without which I would probably not be where I am now. Bangor prepared me to take up any challenging position in my field and no wonder I have been privileged to take on assignments with great institutions including the World Bank. While at Bangor, I fell in love with the university, the people and the environment – what a beautiful place to live and study. The staff and the student community in Bangor were very supportive. As a PhD student I very much enjoyed participating in PhD conferences – rightly named “beyond Boundaries”. They enabled me to appreciate the place of other disciplines in solving societal problems. It was very inspiring to listen and learn from students from various disciplines such as history, linguistics, sports science and chemistry. I have met a number of people in my field who studied in Bangor at various times and they all speak highly of the University. I am proud of Bangor and look forward to being part of the developments at the University.
Clement Okia (2010, PhD Agroforestry)
I attended Bangor University between 1966 and 1969 and graduated in English with what I believe was a high 2:1.
It might have been a first had I not made up and answered my own question on August Strindberg in the exam; the examiner had not had the insight to set the right questions for me to answer - after all the work I had done on Strindberg! That pretty much put paid to any aspirations I might have had to become an academic, although I now enjoy the title of Honorary Lecturer in Bangor by virtue of my work with undergraduates on the Employability programme. My choice of Bangor in preference to Manchester University was fortuitous; I was attracted to the mountains and grew to love the area with its very special people, history, culture and language.
Education aside, I had a wonderful time at Bangor. I met my wife there, played soccer for the University in the Welsh League and developed my competitiveness - as a result gaining the name "Iron man McGreevy" which lives with me still. One game against Nantlle Vale Football Club sticks in my memory. It was a blood bath which we won and was captured in the North Wales Chronicle as "Brain versus brawn". Some years later on an Eisteddfod field, I ran into ‘El Badito’ Orig Williams, the Nantlle captain and professional wrestler, who had been sent off in the game. I reminded him of the newspaper headline to which he responded, "Yeah but we couldn't work out who were the brains and who were the brawn, no yeah"
I have supported Bangor University through giving to the Bangor Fund and providing free Employability workshops for students. I do this because I wish to give Bangor students the best chance of developing their careers, by drawing on the knowledge and experience I have from developing a successful career of my own. Following my participation in the fast track NHS graduate management programme and progressing through various senior posts, I ended up as the CEO of a London Hospital. I headed up the health consultancy practice of PA Consulting Group and became the Public Sector Director for an international HR Consultancy based in Lincoln's Inn Fields where I developed my career counselling skills. The captains of industry I supported through their career changes invariably commented that they wished they had received the employability advice they were getting in middle age when they were much younger. I mentioned this to Kristen Gallagher, Head of Development and Alumni Relations at Bangor University, at a party and the rest is history. I now run my own consultancy company based in Cardiff.
I feel it's important to give back to Bangor because the place made me the man I am today - trite as it may sound - so I want to repay the debt I owe to a very special place.
Malcolm McGreevy (1969, English)
My memories of studying at Bangor are a jumble of having incredibly happy times, assuming my own independence, developing intense friendships, and learning more of a subject I was passionate about. And all set in Bangor and Gwynedd. A truly magical location with castles and sea, mountains and lakes. An ancient land that inspired my imagination as a child holidaying there and that continued to do so as I studied there for three wonderful years and matured into an adult.
I played rugby for Menai Bridge, worked as a barman at The Harp, bivvy-bagged the slopes of Cwm Ogwen in the snow, passed afternoons in Dave Grove's Fish Lab on stilts over the Straits, jogged the Bridge come Hell or high water (and frequently both) with Stephen Smith, ambushed B4 of Emrys from the roof (C1 and B3 friends for life!), distilled extra strong lager on the electric stove of my final year farmhouse, and drove up the North Wales coast and on to Lancashire to watch bands as punk exploded into new wave (and Joy Division supporting Buzzcocks at The Union - how cool was that!). Then, of course, there was rain. If it wasn't raining then it was about to rain, or if it wasn't about to then it just had! But no amount of precipitation could dampen the simple joy and pleasure of looking up towards Snowdon or across the Straits to Ynys Mon and thinking "I'm really here and I'm studying as well".
I did the Bangor thing and hung around after graduating until lack of funds, accommodation, and raison d'être forced me to leave for my parents' and ultimately to a complete change in using my degree to work in research at UCL and thence to Oxford University where I remain. I cried my eyes out as Smith and I drove out of Bangor and on to the A5 for the last time as "students". I will never be able to recapture the sheer vitality and happiness that surrounded my time there except my son starts in a few weeks time (2012) and it begins again for him, I hope.
Andrew Thompson (1981, Zoology with Marine Zoology)
I was a part of the 2010-2011 MBA Marketing batch at Bangor. Bangor has taught me some of the most important things in life. Not only has it developed me academically, but it has completed my personality into one that can be proudly presented to the world. Today I work as the International liaison Officer for the University of Liverpool in Pakistan and I will not hesitate in saying that it would have not been possible if my CV did not read Bangor MBA on it. Bangor taught me how to be patient, cooperative, helpful and accommodating towards people from all different corners of the world. I would still do anything to get those days in Bangor back and re-live the time I had at Bangor University.
Hassan Tariq (2011, MBA Marketing)
My husband Alex and I both came up to Bangor in 1949 and graduated in 1952.
Alex was a student at Grove Park Grammar School, Wrexham and was awarded an Open Scholarship to read Physics at Bangor. After graduating, spending two years National Service and a short time in the electronics industry, he joined the Civil Service doing research in the Division of Radiation Science in NPL in Teddington. In 1981 he was appointed Under Secretary in the DTI in London then in 1987 was appointed Government Chemist at LGC back in Teddington to the consternation of some members of the Royal Society of Chemistry! He really enjoyed his four years there, retiring in 1991 when he was awarded the CBE.
Believe it or not aged 81 he is still writing papers and speaking at conferences on Analytical Chemistry .We have recently returned from a conference in Berlin. His remarkable career began in Bangor!
My name is Beryl and I was born in Crewe, Cheshire. I was a pupil at Crewe County Grammar School and I applied for a place at Bangor to read German, not ever having been there before but mainly because a credit in Latin was not an entrance requirement, whereas at other universities it was! When I arrived on the first day of term and walked out onto the terrace, I could hardly believe what a wonderful place I had come to. The views were just amazing! Having been brought up in a dirty, sooty railway town , everywhere was so clean and the air so fresh. My parents came originally from Bala and Ruthin (in fact my mother won a place at the Ruthin County School for Girls in about 1913). Both my parents were originally Welsh speaking and were married at one of the two Welsh chapels in Crewe in 1927. So many people came to Crewe from Wales looking for work on the railway at the beginning of the 20th Century.
I had a very special time at Bangor. In my second year the wonderful and charismatic Dr (later Professor) Spalding took over the German Department and in fact we did correspond in the latter years of his life. He said I was the oldest former student to write to him! After graduating I stayed on for another year to get my teaching diploma. Until we were married I taught at New Mills Grammar School in Derbyshire. Later I taught other subjects in a Secondary Modern School in Farnborough which after a few years became a Comprehensive, when I became Head of Languages and was able to teach German again! So three different types of schools, but not a particularly special career.
Our time together at Bangor was so special , the weekly dances in PJ, the annual ball in evening dress with a large orchestra and the Eisteddfod.
We were so lucky, as we both came from working class backgrounds but both managed to get to Grammar School encouraged by our parents of course, then on to university, the first members of our families to do so.
Beryl Williams (1952, German)
Having applied to study Marine Physics, I failed to meet the required grades in my Physics A level and lost the place. However the Chemistry department called me at home and asked if I would consider Marine Chemistry instead. This was turning point for me. I discovered I loved university Chemistry and initially took a job which used my degree directly studying Oil pollution around North Sea rigs. I have since worked in several branches of Analytical Chemistry before starting my own Lab. Currently I work on the Safety data production for Herbicides and Pesticides. Obviously without the career change suggested by the Chemistry department at Bangor my life would certainly have been very different.
David Norris (1990, Marine Chemistry)
Whilst studying A Levels in Physics, Chemistry, Maths and French, I originally applied to universities to study physics. During my final A level year I realised that I had made a dreadful mistake and ended up at Bangor through clearing to do French. There happened to be a Russian department and I have never looked back. I ended up living in Russia for 3 years, marrying a Georgian (as a family we speak Russian most of the time, even when I am on my own with our son) and I have used my Russian throughout my career. It is very difficult for me to imagine what might have been if I had not ended up in Bangor.
Margaret Newens (1991, French/Russian)
Because of my initial choice of University degree in what was then 'SPAMS', followed by transfer to do an MSc and PhD in 'SEES', followed by 9 years Post Doc on three diverse contracts, Bangor was responsible for the genesis of my very diverse skills and experience set which I am employing right now. Further the chance to tutor the children of two late employees of the University, the Heads of Careers and Music in the mid 1970's got me into teaching in a bigger way as well. Bangor was also the birthplace of my wife, so has shaped my entire life not just my career.
I’m still married to the postgraduate student I met whilst studying for my Marine Biology/Oceanography degree from 1978-81 and I’m still in touch with my old housemates. Sadly, I’m not really using my degree in the world of work, but recently at an important job interview, was asked about my 'unusual' academic qualification even after all these years - so thanks for all three Bangor! The loss of Gareth Edwards Jones has made us sad beyond measure - for one so young, he was a great man in very many respects. Our hearts go out to his family, colleagues and students.
Sarah Bealey, nee Marlar (1981, Marine Biology/Oceanography)
Fortunately for me, Dr Tom Owen (Forestry &Wood Science), allowed one place for a student whose academic record was not quite up to scratch, provided he believed they had the ability and commitment to study. I graduated in 1974 and embarked on a long career with the Forestry Commission. Latterly I worked with the Forestry & Timber section of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe in Geneva, until my contract ended in December 2011. I am now enjoying living at home in Elgin, Scotland and taking on consultancy work from time to time.
Paul Douglas Clark (1974, Forestry)
I graduated in History in 1996 and have some fantastic memories, too numerous to mention. However, because of Bangor, I have my love of mountains and mountain walking. I fell in love with Bangor and Snowdonia when first I first visited on a family holiday in 1988. When the chance came to study in such superb scenery, I leapt at the chance. The University Mountain Walking Club was the best part of life at Bangor. There was one particular group of us friends who would go into the mountains every weekend, come rain, shine, snow, wind, and walk the maddest of walks, but it was fun, it gave me confidence in walking in snow and icy conditions and yes, one of my favourite walks was Crib Goch and the Snowdon Horseshoe, and another - the Glyders. Nothing beats the camaraderie of sitting in a tent at the top of a mountain in a freezing gale!! We always commented on how lucky we were to be at University in such a beautiful part of Britain, and how students at big city universities were really missing out. I made many fantastic lifelong friends at Bangor; both in the Walking Club and in Rathbone. Being one of the "Ratbin" girls, in fact enabled me to make friends with a girl whom was the very first person I met at Bangor on the very first day of Freshers’ Week, and we have been good friends ever since.
Bangor also taught me how to play cricket. I was a member of the ladies cricket team and Vice Captain. The two lads (Phil and John) who taught us were brilliant. I already loved the game, but learning how to play it really enhanced my enjoyment - all thanks to Bangor! I was also a member of SODA and a founder member of the Bangor University Concert band and its founder librarian!
I am now the Curator of the RAF College at Cranwell, which is a dream job; and studying for my pilot's licence which is an ambition come true. Bangor gave me my history degree - without which I would not have been able to get such a fantastic job and Uni life also started the journey of creating a shy 18 year old into a much more confident adult, with enough confidence to fly an aeroplane!
Hazel (Jane) Crozier (1996, History)
Bangor will always be part of me and the course that I took, English and French, has stood me in great stead all of my life in appreciating literature, especially now as I sit and dream.
My mind goes back to autumn in 1940, when I returned for my final year. Something strange had happened, yes, the war had begun.
The PJ Hall and Main Entrance were all shut up and what is more, many strange faces and students filled the college. It turned out that Bangor was sharing its science departments with students from UCL. Soon we settled down quite happily together. Bangor wasn’t quite such an outpost of the Empire as they feared. Bangor could welcome new diversity of characters.
One of the lecturers in the Zoology department was G.P.Wells, son of H.G.Wells. He was a very friendly and affable person and easily took to Bangor, especially as the shores of the Menai Straits provided him with a plentiful supply of Lugworms – his speciality!
We had a very cold spell in the spring term and out came the royal purple scarves of the UCL students.
Those approaching from College Road had to go down to the terrace to enter. Soon only staff had an entrance at first level. As a joke, some students made a huge snowball and blocked the staff entrance, forcing them to take the longer way.
By May 1940 Europe was in turmoil. I got my degree but never had a capping ceremony. We who had studied, laughed and played together dispersed to many different ways.
Just one more reason why I hold Bangor so dear, I met my husband there (Jeff Hampson, Forestry 1940). He became an RAF pilot, was shot down, then a POW, but survived, then worked in forestry. He died in 1998.
As a memento of our time in Bangor, my husband dedicated a bench to us on the pier, during its 1990s refurbishment. The bench with our plaque, is still there today – on the left, near the entrance.
Sylvia Hampson (1940, English and French)
I was at Bangor University from 1975 to 1978.
I read English Literature and Drama ….in those days there were only about eight universities in the country that were specialists in this type of joint degree, so even then Bangor was on the cutting edge.
Bangor appealed to me as it was a small town with lots of students in a beautiful part of the British Isles. I immediately felt at home there.
I was lucky enough to be part of a generation of students on my course that included Oscar winner Danny Boyle, but also many other big personalities that have gone on to work very successfully in the TV & Film industry in various forms.
The course itself was exemplary...the tutorials, lectures, the academic staff were second to none …most had had literary work already published, others went on to do so, and one went on to advise as a Shakespearian expert in film, specialising in the work of Kenneth Branagh.
And the social life! ….In a smaller university it is up to the students to make their own amusement …and we did. …A Lot. ….
I think that at 18 years old I felt much more secure in a smaller environment .We all knew each other, and helped one another with our first foray away from home.
I had three of the most wonderful years of my life there.
I still belong to a large retinue of “Old Bangorians” who remain my very best friends to this day…
What more could I have hoped for?
Bangor University will always have a place in my heart as I learned about life, love and literature all at the same time … .Long may it continue to inspire.
Frances Barber, Actress (1978, English & Drama)
It was a really, really happy time of my life! I fell in love with Bangor when I first came for my interview, and whilst on the train home that night, I felt - I want to go there! I loved Bangor and had a fantastic 3 years. I'm still best friends with the guys who lived on the same corridor as me on the Ffriddoedd site in my first year!
Timothy Jones (2002, History)
I graduated with an English degree in 1999 and have fantastic memories of my time at Bangor. It’s a beautiful place with stunning scenery and an incredibly supportive student community – I can’t think of anywhere better to study!
Samantha Davies (1999, English)
Bangor University has given me so much. I’ve got great memories of my time at University and I’m still in contact with some super friends that I made whilst studying at Bangor. Importantly, throughout my career I’ve found that having a degree has opened up doors for me, and it has certainly given me an inner confidence in the workplace.
John Jones, Landseer Partners (1980, Maths)
I attended Bangor University from 1975 through to 1978 and graduated in Mathematics & Physical Oceanography; the School of Ocean Sciences with its worldwide reputation was the standout reason for me choosing Bangor above all other universities.
But education aside I had a wonderful time at Bangor, with its small town feel, unique history and the magnificent Welsh countryside as a backdrop it was an inspiring place to live and learn.
As an 18 year old city kid (from Liverpool) to have Snowdonia on our doorstep, (I lived in Gerlan just outside Bethesda and was "snowed in" our rural cottage for 4 days!!!) was a terrific advantage and adventure, without a doubt Bangor helped me to grow up and gave me a lot of confidence for the future. It also clearly helped me gain and develop a promising career, including roles as Managing Director of Castlemaine Perkins (XXXX) Australia and Chief Executive Officer of Tyrrells Potato Chips.
I now run my own consultancy, helping small businesses come to the marketplace and develop into thriving, profitable, going concerns. I often look back and wonder how I got to where I am and reflect on the enormous help the staff and students gave me when I was at Bangor.
Les Sayers, KingsfordSmith Consultancy (1978, Mathematics & Physical Oceanography)
I graduated in Banking & Finance from Bangor in 1983 and have since enjoyed a varied career in finance and general management.
My latest role, as Chief Operating Officer at No.10 Downing Street, demonstrates that Bangor has a reputation that is widely respected both in the City (where early in my career I worked in Banking), and in the Civil Service, who value highly people with a broad financial background.
Eric Hepburn, Chief Operating Officer, No.10 Downing Street (1983, Banking & Finance)
Bangor certainly widened my career opportunities and provided me with a strong financial background. Apart from being a Professor, my consulting and advisory roles in many European and US institutions (including the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago) highlight the high reputation that Bangor has.
Santiago Carbo Valverde, Professor of Economics at the Universidad de Granada, Spain (1993, Economics)
I studied Economics at Bangor between 1990 and 1993. The teaching was excellent, giving me a good grounding in the subject and encouraging me to embark on further studies following my degree. I went on to study for an MSc and PhD, following which I started work as an economist with Deutsche Bank. I am now the Bank's Chief UK Economist in London, where I still use the economics I learnt at Bangor every day.
Not only was the undergraduate course very enjoyable, but living in north Wales for three years of my life was a wonderful experience. Bangor is in a unique position to provide academic excellence against a backdrop of some of the most stunning scenery you'll find anywhere. Choosing Bangor University was one of the best decisions I've ever made.
George Buckley, Chief UK Economist, Deutsche Bank (1993, Economics)
I met my wife Laura at Bangor and the ties are as strong as ever. In 29 years I have only missed one Old Boys weekend and many of the alumni I go back with were already Old Boys when I was a mere student. Lifelong friendships have now developed between our kids too and most of them come along for what is one of the highlight weekends of the year. This year I met a group of girls who left about 6 or 7 years ago who have been back every year since and who fully intend to carry on coming back. I also met final year students who are intent on keeping up the tradition. What was common was a sense that Bangor “does something to you”. It is a combination of the location, the people, the common bond, the growing up, the memories, the laughs…. I could go on.
What is for sure is that there is very little that could keep me away. I can’t say that at the age of 51 I will continue to run out on to the rugby pitch, but so long as I can run I will be there with my kit!
If there are contemporaries out there, why not give it a try?
Tim Clay (1982, Marine Biology and Oceanography)
A mixture of healing pilgrimage (a bit like Lourdes, but the water comes in a pint glass) spiritual regeneration and survival weekend, Bangor Old Boys is fixed in my New Year diary every January. What a great place to spend a weekend! Anglesey, the view down the straits from the bridge, the mountains, but why go back every year? Simple really, I had great fun whilst I was there and Old Boys’ Weekend is exactly that; great fun.
The memories that come back (a bonus at my age) the wicked humour, drink, food, more drink, but also, the chance to reflect on what we've all become since then. Most of all, my old friends who remind me age is just a number...although my body takes a different view when trying to run round a rugby field, but the question "have you brought your kit?" is still a challenge and long may it be so.
Ged Bailes, (1978, Psychology & PGCE)
As a recent alumnus I'm amazed by how much my time in Bangor touched my life at the time and continues to uplift me now. In particular, two memories come to mind. When I arrived at Bangor, I didn't have secure accommodation, so found lodging with an elderly lady who had recently been bereaved. Living with her for a year, and discovering her inner peace and witnessing her exceptionally-beneficial coping strategies made the recent passing of my father this summer much easier to bear, particularly as she was a constant support online throughout the initial few months.
My second memory is a friend who was a geek for cycling and rowing; his passion for these sports re-ignited a lost childhood hobby of mine for jumping on a bike and seeing where the road takes me. Together, these two friends inspired me to take up the challenge of cycling 2012km over the next 8 months to raise as much money as I can for the Cardiomyopathy Association, a charity that seeks to reduce the number of premature deaths from heart disease.
Elizabeth Hawkness-Smith (2009, Applied Linguistics)