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Stories from Old Bedfordians: ‘What I did with or despite my degree’

Stories from Old Bedfordians: ‘What I did with or despite my degree’

  • Date30 October 2023

Bedford alumna and Bedford Society Committee member Betty Hales (Physics 1970-73) writes about the recent ‘What I did with or despite my degree’ Bedford event, held at 11 Bedford Square

We met in the Bedford Room, 11 Bedford Square for our usual termly event but this time we did not have the use of the room opposite so our numbers had to be limited to 25 including the five speakers who spoke for ten minutes each. This made for a more intimate gathering and the evening went very well, with the usual wine reception happening throughout the evening instead of just at the end, interspersed by the five speakers, telling their varied stories with lively questions and contributions from the floor.

The meeting was made available to alumni who were not able to attend in person via a live feed video link, and a recording is available above.

The speakers were:

Carol Lovelidge (Biochemistry 1960-63) who described her time as a research assistant behind the Iron Curtain in Leipzig. She prepared well for her research work but arrived speaking hardly a word of German! This was soon remedied and she delivered a research paper to a large audience in German a few months later. She also told us about the amazing cultural events she attended whilst there.

Susie West (Biology 1970-73) who described her journey from student nurse to taking her degree at Bedford and then to medical school, followed by an interesting and varied career as a doctor. She focused particularly on some harrowing and sometimes amusing experiences in the old bailey giving evidence during her time as a forensic doctor.

Geoff Llewelyn (Sociology 1969-72) who told us that sociology at Bedford in 1970 was not quite what he had expected it to be and how it had taken him on a journey managing a number of changes in the Post Office, the BBC, then within private companies, eventually setting-up his own business, introducing ID cards in Poland among many other things. He now lectures part-time at Bayes Business School, which has fulfilled an early ambition to teach.

Betty Hales (Physics 1970-73) who also chaired the meeting, described a journey through her teaching career, and focused on ‘failure’ and ‘success’ in a number of Ofsted Inspections, and what can be learned from them about the quality of education and the Ofsted process.

Caroline Willbourne (Classics and Philosophy 1964-67) who managed to be called to the bar in 1970 despite being female. She described the difficulties in obtaining a position in chambers, where one woman out of thirteen members was considered more than enough. Eventually she achieved her ambition of setting up her own family law firm. ‘Woman succeed in Law because they have to be more committed and better than the men’.

All the speakers and many members of the audience agreed to write-up their stories, which can form part of a 175th Anniversary legacy of Bedford College, available on the RHBNC Website and in the Archive. As it is unlikely that many of us will be celebrating the 200th Anniversary, we are hopeful that others will be encouraged to also write up their own stories.

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