Forty Years On!
Whilst studying at the University of Hull in the 1970’s, I made friends with a number of people. I became especially friendly with some of the other girls who, like me, were residents at Thwaite Hall. I kept in touch with some. They also kept in touch with some other friends. The years rolled on. We all got jobs, some got married and had families. Life was full for us all. So, despite promises to get back together, we never actually did it.
Then two or three years ago news spread amongst us of the death of one of our friends. Gill Critchley (nee Crossley) had been part of our circle of friends and we were all saddened by her passing. However, the event did prompt us to give some more thought to the idea of meeting up again. Still time passed. Then in November 2016 six of us finally managed to make the journey back to Hull for our very own reunion weekend! Madeleine (Maddy) Cato (nee Ashman), Ann Mashman (nee Ainsworth) Barbara Harrad (nee Jack), Pauline Rhodes (nee Newman), Janet Aspinall (nee Pye) and myself Margaret Walton (nee Entwistle) all met up at the Holiday Inn on the Marina ( it was all dockland when we were there as students!) for a weekend of catching up and reminiscing.
Concerns about ‘How will we recognise each other?’ ‘Do we need to wear name badges?’ ‘What if I don’t know anyone?’ were quickly dismissed as we gathered on the Friday evening at the hotel. We immediately recognised each other and ‘You haven’t changed a bit!’ became one of the frequent refrains of the weekend! Voices, looks, mannerisms …. All instantly recognisable!
We had a fabulous time, with lots of ‘Do you remember such-a-body?’, ‘Do you remember such-a-thing?’, ‘I wonder what happened to ….’. We had all brought photographs from our days at the university and between us pieced together half remembered names and faces. We also all brought more recent photographs to share with each other significant events in our lives, our growing families and other milestones from the years gone by.
On the Saturday of our get together we drove up to the university and once again walked down the main approach. We wandered around the campus and went into the ground floor area of the library (‘Oh the catalogue drawers have all gone!’, ‘Where are all the books?!’ ‘Look at all these computers! We had to write everything by hand or get it typed up!’) We also visited the Students’ Union and stocked up on some new university souvenirs! It was interesting to see the new developments on the campus and to recognise familiar areas of the site.
As lunch time approached we headed up to Cottingham. We had a walk around the village remembering familiar places, and after some lunch in a tea room on the square we went on to Thwaite Hall. It was lovely to see the grounds again and to see and hear the ducks and geese! We were delighted to see that the hall is still very much the same as it was in our day (apart from the obvious change with boys now also living there!) and still a catered residence too! We have fond memories of life in Thwaite Hall. Hot rolls and honey for breakfast on Sunday mornings; the catering, cleaning and caretaker staff who became our adoptive parents whilst we were away from home; sitting on High Table with Miss Gage who was the warden in our day; getting visitors at the weekend and all sharing each other’s families and friends; the land line telephone near the dining room and doing telephone duty, running around the corridors to let someone know they had a call; picnics on the lawn in summer ……
As the darkness gathered at the end of the afternoon we headed back to the hotel. That evening we ate at one of the lovely restaurants on the Marina. Then on Sunday morning we walked around the Marina and into town and we were again delighted with the on-going development of the city centre. City of Culture status for 2017 is clearly going to be good for Hull!
Finally on Sunday afternoon, after a refreshment stop in another lovely eating place on the Marina, we all said our goodbyes and with promises to keep in touch and to do ‘this’ again before too long, we all went our separate ways to journey back home.
It had been a fabulous weekend and so lovely to catch up with everyone. I would like to offer my thanks to everyone for making the time to come along, and I would also like to thank the university staff who helped me to piece together the visits and helped to make the occasion very special for this group of very happy 60 year old ex-students!
I would also say that if you are reading this article and are thinking you could do the same – do it! Get in touch with friends, find a hotel and get back together again! All too soon it was too late for one of our friends and it is all too easy to just let the years slip by without actually arranging the gathering. Just do it!!
(Image L to R) Maddy Cato, Ann Mashman, Margaret Walton, Barbara Harrad, Pauline Rhodes, Janet Aspinall