1970s Class notes

Hubert Allen (MSocSc Local Government & Administration, 1970)

Widowered on 25 September after some 10 years' caring for advancing dementia. Family supportive. Grandchildren gave me a new bicycle as an 80th birthday present, so I get adequate exercise, cycling four miles into central Oxford and back several times a week.

I attend numerous courses and lectures. I am Chair of a bridge club and a Deanery Synodsman. Hon Sec Churches-Together.

Jennifer Chapman (MBChB Medicine, 1970)

Jennifer ChapmanI am still working full time as a Consultant Community Paediatrician and designated Medical Officer for Special Educational Needs in Brighton and Hove. I hope to reduce my hours at the end of this year. The snapshot was taken at a dinner party with school friends. I have been updating my house in accordance with the Homes for Life building regulations in preparation for old age!

Thomas Clarke (BSocSc Sociology, 1971)

I'm Down Under now! Professor Thomas Clarke, Director, UTS Centre for Corporate Governance.

Paul R Gully (MBChB Medicine, 1971)

After a post in infectious diseases and tropical medicine at East Birmingham Hospital, I worked in Zambia and the Canadian Arctic as a General Practitioner, trained in community medicine in the West Midlands. I then became a Consultant with an attachment to the UK Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre (now part of the HPA). I returned to Canada as an MOH in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. In 1990, I began a career in Health Canada, primarily in the area of infectious disease epidemiology, prevention and control; involved in many national infectious disease events.

After SARS in 2004, I was appointed Deputy Chief Public Health Officer for Canada in the newly created Public Health Agency of Canada. From 2006-2009, I was seconded to the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva, as Senior Advisor to the Assistant Director General for Public Health and the Environment. I was closely involved in issues related to influenza. I returned to Canada in 2009 as Senior Medical Advisor to the Deputy Minister of Health Canada. During part of that time, I was Canada's delegate to the Executive Board of WHO.

I retired in January 2013 and now work part time as a Public Health Consultant, collaborating with the University of British Columbia's School of Population and Public Health. I am on the Board of the Canadian Public Health Association. I have been married for 38 years to Lois, BSocSci (Hons) in International Studies from Birmingham (1984), LLB University of Saskatchewan and LLM University of Ottawa, who works in human rights and aboriginal law. We have two children and two grandchildren who also, at present, live in Vancouver.

Arthur Hawes (Diploma Pastoral Studies, 1971)

Arthur Hawes retired as Archdeacon of Lincoln and a Canon of Lincoln Cathedral in September 2008. His parish ministry began in 1968, when he was appointed curate of St. John’s, Kidderminster. Here he founded KARE – the Kidderminster Association for Rehousing in Emergency. In 1972 he became the first priest to work at St Richard’s, Droitwich, which was a new housing estate for people being rehoused from central Birmingham.

From 1976-92 he was Rector of Attlebridge, Alderford and Swannington and Chaplain to the Norwich acute psychiatric services, where he led an ecumenical team of five chaplains. He then moved to be the team Rector of St. Faith’s, Gaywood in King’s Lynn, moving to Lincolnshire in 1995. He is now Archdeacon Emeritus of Lincoln and Canon of the Cathedral.

Mental Health has always featured in his ministry and it began in 1971 when he was Founder Chairman of the North Worcestershire Association for Mental Health, following postgraduate work at Birmingham. From 1976-92 he was Chaplain for the Acute Psychiatric Units in Norwich and from 1986-95 a Mental Health Act Commissioner where he led visiting teams to both Broadmoor and Rampton hospitals and chaired the Section 57 group of the Commission.  

In 1995 he was appointed Chair of the Church of England’s Mental Health Advisory Group and, as a member of the Mission and Public Affairs Council, he has presented two debates in the General Synod of the Church of England on mental health issues, which are available on the Church of England website.

In 1996, he was appointed a Jubilee Patron of MIND and in 1999 was a member of MIND’s National Reference Group.  From 1998-2006 he was a non-executive Director of the Mental Health Trust in Lincolnshire. His particular responsibilities were to chair the Mental Health Act Sub Committee of the Trust and to have a responsibility for managers’ appeals and renewals. From 2003-07 he was a member of the NHS Confederation Mental Health Policy Committee and from 2003-05 was Chairman of the East Midlands NIMHE Regional Development Centre.

In 2007 he was invited to become a member of the Criminal Justice Mental Health Research Group at Lincoln University. In 2006-8 he was appointed Mental Health Act Adviser to the Lincolnshire Partnership Trust and in 2008 he was appointed as Training Consultant to the Trust. From 2003 onwards, he has been a member of the National Spirituality and Mental Health Forum and from 2009-11 was co-Chairman of the Forum with Dr Sarah Eagger. Recently, he was appointed a visiting Fellow of Staffordshire University and is one of the two Vice-Chairs of the British Association for the Study of Spirituality. He has published many occasional papers and edited the book The Anne French Memorial Lectures, contributed to Jewels for the Journey and to A Spirituality and Mental Health Handbook and Spirituality and End of Life Care, both published by Pavillion.

He is married to Melanie, who trained at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in the City of London, and they have four grandchildren. They recently moved to Norfolk where they live in an old farmhouse.

Gill Dawson (BA Combined Honours French & Spanish, 1972)

Gill Dawson holding her MBE, surrounded by familyI was lucky enough to receive an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list 2012 for services to young people (Girl Guiding UK). Had fab day out at the Palace in December with all the family (pictured outside Buckingham Palace after the MBE presentation [l-r] Gemma, Andy, Gill, Tim and Jo. Tim is a Birmingham graduate in Electrical Engineering (1972). 

Francis Mallon (BSocSc Psychology, 1972; MEd Education, 1978)

I am now semi-retired, following a long career as an Educational Psychologist with Birmingham City Council, where I was Acting Chief Psychologist. I now provide training and consultancy, mostly through the Association for Psychological Therapies. I also am active with The Crescent Theatre Company, Birmingham, where I perform as a singer and musician and also promote musical events.

William Passmore (BSc Mechanical Engineering, 1972)

I am currently working in Logistics in Canada, having spent earlier parts of my career in Manufacturing Engineering Management and Project Management. I have many happy memories of Birmingham. The Lake Hall floods following too much merriment is perhaps the most amusing memory!

Michael Anderson (Post-Grad Certificate 1973; Post-Grad Diploma, 1975)

I completed two qualifications (Post-Grad Certificate in Social Administration and Social Policy, 1973; and Post-Grad Diploma in Social Work (with CQSW), 1975) at the University of Birmingham.  University – the second of four unis which I've studied at, previously having an MA in Law from St Catherine's College, Oxford. I later added an MEd from Liverpool Uni and a PhD from Murdoch Uni in Western Australia to my qualifications.

I mainly had an academic career becoming Head of the Social Work Department at (what's now) the Metropolitan University of Manchester, migrating to Western Australia in 1991 to take up position as Head of Human Services at Edith Cowan University. I'm now happily retired from paid employment, my last position being part time with the Inspectorate of Mental Health provision with the Government of Western Australia.

Susan Watkin (LLB Law, 1973)

Newly retired, starting a second career as a writer and photographer, and doing other things I had no time for when working and commuting!

David Haslam (MBChB Medicine, 1972)

As from 1 April 2013, I have been appointed Chair of NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence). 

Victoria McKee (MA Shakespeare Studies, 1974)

Victoria McKee, holding a guitarVictoria McKee, BA, Brandeis (English and Theatre Arts, 1973), MA (Shakespeare Studies, Shakespeare Institute, 1974), FRSA (Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts) is a lifelong writer, journalist and, more recently, also a singer/songwriter, lecturer, teacher and entrepreneur.

I first came to the UK from the US to study for just one year at The Shakespeare Institute of the University of Birmingham in 1973 and stayed living in the Birmingham area ever since. Yet I only recently found myself back looking at clock tower from my hospital room at the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital on the campus, when diagnosed with the incurable bone marrow cancer, Multiple Myeloma, in January 2012.  The clock made me very conscious of how much time had passed, how little there might be to come and the need to make the most of what we are given. 

Vinod Patel (MBChB Medicine, 1974)

I have been a GP in Houston, Texas, since 1981. I would like to know how my old classmates are doing.

Angela Reith (BA English & Music, 1974)

The age of 60 is a good time to look back on all that’s happened since University. I’ve had what I guess is a ‘portfolio’ career. I taught for a year and hated the prospect of spending 40 years in an educational institution, so left that behind. Following a postgraduate certificate in Theology at St John’s College, Nottingham, I got a job in London as an Audio Visual Producer with a Christian educational charity, creating discussion-starters on life and faith themes for schools and churches. As the production team was small, we all learnt to do everything, and I worked as a writer, producer, director, composer and editor. After a couple of years, video became the latest technology, so I added movie-making to my skills. Six years later I went freelance as a producer, director and editor.

For the next 20 years I worked on over 100 documentary-style productions for charities such as Action Aid, Tear Fund, Cancer Relief, Compassion International and Charities Aid Foundation, often with Greenleaf Films and North South Productions. In the early 1990s I wrote and directed around 14 programmes for Channel 4 Schools Television with Grampian Television, and also composed title and incidental music for many of these. I also had several books published including four children’s books for Ark Publishing and Who Am I?, a beginners guide to the Enneagram which is a tool for understanding personality (Lion Publishing).

Though I had been involved in music all this time, a chance event I attended in the late 1990s – a Jazz Summer School at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama – reminded me forcibly that I had forgotten about the joy of group singing. It was one of those serendipitous things and became very important for my mental and emotional health. I had been experiencing depression for a long time while continuing to pursue a freelance career, and rediscovering singing was part of the healing process. From 2000, I gradually shifted from doing production work to working mainly as a musician. At this time two other singers and I formed Anam Cara vocal trio, and arranged and performed all styles of songs for the next 10 years, releasing two CDs in the process (Anam Cara: Live at St George’s and Seize the Moment – available on iTunes, etc). Singing with Anam Cara has been one of the highlights of my life.

The drop-in singing workshop I led for anyone who wanted to sing, where we learnt songs by ear and in harmony, clearly demonstrated to me that this kind of group singing was not only hugely enjoyable but helped people cope better with illness, depression, pain and difficult life circumstances. Consequently I trained as a Music Therapist in 2005-6, again at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in order to develop my understanding of music and health.

I now run a community choir and several singing groups, including one at Harefield Hospital for people with breathing difficulties. The future is open: what next? Before I get past it, I’d love to have more time for song-writing, composing and writing – which are hard to do when needing to earn a living.

A. Fadil Akgun (MSc Applied Physics, 1975; PhD, 1982)

I completed my MSc in Applied Radiation Physics and my PhD in Applied Nuclear Science in the Physics Department during 1975 and 1982 respectively.

After I finished my education, I returned to Turkey and, in 1982, started to work under the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority, Cekmece Nuclear Research Centre at the Departments of Radioisotope Production and Physics. I worked as Researcher, Head of Departments and Deputy to the Director of the Centre until July 2011. I retired in 2011.

Nowadays, I spend three days a week teaching Chemistry in a private preparatory school for university entrance examinations.

I spent many nice days in the University's Physics Department working with Professor JH Fremlin, Dr Durrani, Dr Dyson, Dr TD Beynon and others.

Martin Davies (BSc Mathematical Sciences, 1975)

I studied Maths at Birmingham, and came first in the first year, second in the second year, and, by a natural progression, third in my finals.

Had mental problems after graduation. Only survived my first job at Marconi Elliott (Rochester) for four months. I stuck to my guns and joined Sperry Gyroscope, Bracknell, in March 1978.

On 18-month Graduate Training Scheme (approved by EITB), put on Monte Carlo simulation of Mine Hunting Scenario. Totally analysed it statistically, but my predictions didn't seem to match the behaviour. It was only on leaving this part of my training, that they discovered that their random number generators were not coming up with means and standard deviations (spread around the mean) that the manufacturers specified. On finding the true means and standard deviations, my predictions agreed perfectly with the simulated behaviour. They were able to plot definitive graphs of the behaviour, as the parameters varied, and I saved them 1,000s of hours of computer time.

Also spent time at Plymouth with Mk.19 and 23 Gyros, joined the Dartmoor Ramblers and went Mirror dinghy sailing off Drake's Island. I also did Drawing Office Practice Training.

Joined Image Processing Section of R&D, in the early days when you needed a 'framestore' to hold the image (1980). Developed AGC Algorithm, an 'edge-walking bug', which I analysed statistically (as a random walk), and produced my 'magnum opus' in 1984 on a method called the S.S.D.A. It was one hundred pages of Maths, which they didn't understand, slapped a 'Confidential' sticker on and stuck in a drawer, where it probably remains to today.

Also in 1984 combined two papers on Texture Measures and a Classification Method to produce a Texture Classification Algorithm. Left the Department, and another person took it over, got a 98% success rate from it, and based his whole career on it. On average, that meant, in a 7x7 pixel 'object' on the screen (tiny), on average, it mis-classified about one pixel. It was at least 15 years ahead of its time. Now there is a whole Science of Textures.

Joined the Computer Services Dept. in 1985, learnt structured COBOL programming in record time, and wrote a report-producing suite of batch and online programmes which produced reports (custom design reports online).  The suite was regularly producing 150 timed (weekly and monthly) reports a week, which went down to Plymouth, when they closed at Bracknell, and was finally removed from the computer in 1998, eleven years after I had completed it.

Also suite of raw COBOL 'pretty printing' and structure diagram-producing programmes. Got another job with RISL at Kingston and Henley; team 'migration' work (converting programmes from one computer to another) for Provincial and TSB, before finally being made redundant in 1992. In about the same period of my 'career', I did 6-7 long-distance footpaths (including the Coast to Coast and West Highlands Way), The Three Peaks, The Lyke Wake Walk, and 15 half-marathons, some for charity.

Since then I have written over 80 poems, a novel (self-published in 2010) The Hammer of Thor, under my pen-name of 'Martin D Kendall'. A children's fantasy novel about ancient magic to do with the cup-and-ring marked stones on Ilkley Moor, thought to date from 2,500 BC. It's also 'up' on Amazon.), 103 pieces of software (both Acorn and IBM), and three websites in raw HTML.

I spent 20 years over a BBC Basic to Acorn ANSI C Translator, using a Bison (GNU Yacc clone) grammar for BBC Basic, a language that had no formal grammar in mind. My Dad said it was equivalent to writing a programme to translate from pure Glaswegian into Latin. I 'decoded' BBC Basic Files, so I could 'strip them apart' into 'tokens', that I passed to the 'grammar', which gradually strung the programme back into the output C. In the same process I 'decoded' both GW-BASIC and Q Basic Files, and wrote GW-BASIC and Q Basic to BBC Basic Translators.

Also I have 'solved' three Maths problems, I was working on at Birmingham.

Estelle Gerrett (BEd Education, 1975; UGDip Special Education (Hearing Impaired), 1999

I was at Birmingham decades ago! My name changed and then changed back, so is now the same as when I was at Birmingham. I manage the programme of the habilitation team as a AV therapist at The Cochlear Implant Centre, Auckland, New Zealand. 

Peter Gotch (BSc Engineering Production & Economics, 1976)

I am currently the Head of Discipline in a health and safety consultancy unit, with a diverse workload.

Anita Greenwood (née Adams) (BSc Biological Sciences, 1975; PGCE, 1976)

After graduation, I taught in Berkshire for 7 years and then moved to the United States with my husband Tim Greenwood (BEng Electrical Engineering, 1974, MSc Computer Sciences, 1975). After receiving my doctorate in Education, I became a faculty member at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. I am now the Dean of Education there and look forward to visiting Birmingham’s School of Education in the future.

Mahasiddhi (MA Contemporary Cultural Studies, 1976)

I graduated from the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies in 1976, being part of the first cohort of the taught MA delivered by Stuart Hall and Richard Johnson.

In the period since I have been working as a freelance photographer specialising in sport for over a decade, then health and education. I have also taught a sheaf of subjects part time to different levels across various institutions, using my research interest from CCCS as well as my PGCE gained from Durham just prior to coming back to Brum, where I was born and raised.

In 2003 I started to regularly attend the Birmingham Buddhist Centre and very soon started my training for ordination into the Triratna Buddhist Order. I was ordained in September 2010 and given the name Mahasiddhi. I now teach meditation and Buddhism here in Brum but also in Paris and I lead retreats in both countries.

As a photographer I am currently involved in a project to draw together a series of portraits of some of the people who went to CCCS. In this endeavour I am ably supported and creatively inspired by Roger Shannon, local film producer and academic and also fellow alumnus of CCCS. Next year it will be 50 years since Richard Hoggart founded CCCS with money Penguin Books gave for his literary defence of D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover.

We are hoping to exhibit some large format portraits at a time which overlaps with a conference situated at the University and organised by the History Department, celebrating some of the contributions and achievements of some of the Centre's alumni. The History Department has recently secured funding for collating and housing a detailed archive dedicated to the Centre with all kinds of materials from throughout the years of its existence.

John Griffin (MSc Mineral Chemistry, 1976)

I am the Internal Communications Manager at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, a research centre of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) carrying out integrated research in terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems and their interaction with the atmosphere.

My MSc in Mineral Chemistry, in what was then called the Geological Sciences Department, was run by David Lacey. The five of us mostly kept to ourselves and didn’t enter into many aspects of university life, except that I did a bit of rowing on Rotton Park reservoir and a few of the others used the sports centre. We all had coffee out of plastic cups in plastic holders in the student centre and sometimes visited the Gun Barrels pub on Bristol Road. Graduation in December 1976 was snowy. I only keep in touch with one of the others now (Kevin Onions, who went to work for British Coal in Staffordshire). My social life was more outside the University itself: I lived most of the time at Woodbrooke, the Quaker college in Selly Oak, and made some good friends there.

I followed my MSc with a research degree (MPhil) at Plymouth Polytechnic’s Maritime Department on the environmental geochemistry of the element mercury – focusing on the marine atmosphere and spending time at sea and in the Antarctic as well as running simple models and developing methods of measuring very low concentrations. I then came to Oxfordshire to work in a research association for the non-ferrous metals industry on air pollution projects, one of which took me back to Birmingham, to the Birmingham Battery and Metal Co. (now gone and replaced by a retail park) by the canal bridge on the Bristol Road at Selly Oak – somewhere I used to cycle past every day when I was at the University! I eventually returned to the NERC fold (they gave me a studentship in 1975 to do my MSc – those were the days!) to work at the Institute of Hydrology, which later became CEH.

I still maintain my interest in geology as a member of the local group in Oxford, and Professor John Tellam was one of the speakers at a colloquium I attended recently. My contacts with Birmingham now are mainly with people I know through the British Hydrological Society, such as Professor David Hannah and Dr Chris Bradley. 

Michael Schwartz (BA Ancient and Modern Greek, 1976)

I am now totally freelance, mainly writing articles for the business press. I am Toronto University's go-to guy for teaching Modern Greek to those Torontonian Greeks who have slipped through the linguistic net - or those non-Greeks who want to know what their future in-laws are saying about them. At present, my wife Hazel and I are preparing a rail trip from Beijing to Moscow - not the same as the 61 bus to Manor House.

David West (LLB Law, 1976)

I've practised law in the private sector, but have spent most of my career in house as a 'nuclear lawyer' in the nation's defence and civil nuclear sectors.

Occasionally, I meet up with Tim Wilson who also graduated at the same time in law,and with Nick Gordon who graduated in Geography in 1976. I'm married to a music graduate from Southampton University, who has taught music up to A level in the state sector.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Brum, and revisited it a couple of years ago whilst on business... goodness how much improved the city centre is now, but I wish they'd do something about New Street Station though!

John Wallace (MSc Psychology, 1977)

After leaving Birmingham in 1977, I retook A levels in the required science subjects and then studied medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons. I then undertook research at University College Hospital and the Maudsley Hospitals, both in London before going on to complete an MSc in evidence-based medicine at Wadham College, Oxford. I am currently completing a PhD with Oxford University on how to move the latest research evidence quickly to doctors and nurses in the field.

Liz Cowell (LLB Law, 1978)

I am now married to another Birmingham graduate, Joseph Yusupoff (known as Lawrence Yusupoff), who is a Chartered Clinical Psychologist in private practice.

We have two sons. One reading Philosophy and Politics at Edinburgh University and one studying for his GCSEs at Manchester Grammar School. I sit as a Deputy District Judge on the Northern Circuit. I am an Equity Partner with Pannone LLP. I specialise in divorce and financial settlement.

David Taylor (MSc Applied Geophysics, 1979)

Always fun to recollect the enjoyable time when I did my MSc back in those dark, old days of 1978/79… seems like an eternity ago! I would like to return to one of the reunions although given I have lived outside of the UK for over 30 years now my infrequent return visits do not quite get the timing right.

The MSc at Brum was a pivotal point in my life in the world of international oil and gas exploration and set me up for what has been a great ride so far. After some 20 years as an expat on four continents my family and I settled down in Canada where our twins have grown up (since age 10) and passed through school and university here. They are now 25 and enjoying their lives on the west coast; Vancouver and California. Tough, isn’t it?

Stefan Wheaton (BA French, 1979)

I graduated in 1979 with a French degree and have been living in France since 1985. Two of my children are twins – one graduated last year from Brum and the other is in his final year at Brum at the moment (I should, therefore, be back in July for yet another very enjoyable ceremony).