Preston journalism students meet up for reunion after 41 years

A group of journalists who studied together in Preston 41 years ago met for a reunion last week to celebrate the Preston Guild.

The class of 1970-71 studied on the NCTJ pre-entry journalism course at Harris College, the forerunner of UCLAN, and 20 of them gathered for a weekend of nostalgia last week.

Several had not seen one another since they left college. And they met for pre-dinner drinks at their college-days favourite pub, the Lamb and Packet.

The reunion was organised by former Lancashire Evening Post reporter Chas Stewart, now a sub with the Financial Times.

‘A handful of us met 20 years ago for the 1992 Guild, but it was easier to track people down this time using the internet,’he said. ‘It was a wonderful occasion, and we have no intention of leaving it another 20 years till the next gathering.”

Some of the group have stayed with the heart of journalism on regional and local papers: Diana Lyne (Fletcher) at Croydon, and Margaret Parsons (Wright) who is news editor at the Burnley Express. Patsy Fuller (Norris) worked for the Coventry Evening Telegraph, where she still writes a classical music column. Margaret Wright (Russell) worked for the Wigan Post and Chronicle, Lancashire Evening Telegraph and Burnley Express, and now runs a B&B business at her family farm near Pendle Hill. Brian Hood moved from the Clitheroe Advertiser to the Evening Standard via a spell in Hong Kong.

Others moved to the national scene, Kevin Ludden as a freelance, Howard Foy for the Daily Star. Nicholas Moss, now a magistrate, worked for the BBC. Mike Stone is now a motoring correspondent, after many years in Fleet Street, while Alison Bailey worked as a journalist in Hamburg.

Some moved on to pursue other careers.  Helen Catlow (nee Pike) runs a complementary medicine clinic after having her own PR agency.  Margaret Groom (Wolstenholme) is a hypnotherapist and singer/songwriter, (and composed a song for the re-union which she sang after a dinner at Bella Emilio). Roy Vernon found his true calling as an English teacher, and Bernadette Philipps (nee Evans), another former LEP staffer, now works with a charity after many years in PR. Mary Farrell (nee Hinds) works in public health management.

Eileen Jones, who also worked for the LEP, was course leader for the Journalism degree at Huddersfield University and now freelances in the Lake District. Also at the LEP was Gus Pimblett who now teaches sailing and windsurfing on Anglesey. Louise Rumford (nee Zacchi) sells antiques in Worcester, Wendy Graham (Tarr) has a pearl-importing business.

Nick Moss said: ‘It was a truly extraordinary occasion, the significance of which has taken a little time to sink in. Someone said that we haven’t changed. We have: time has accentuated the positives in each of us and diminished the negatives, if any.”

The group was joined by former tutor Laurie Bullas who went on to be education correspondent with the Manchester Evening News. Greetings were sent from Dennis Jones, who taught government, and from Julie Freer, leader of the journalism division at UCLAN,  which celebrates its 50th anniversary of journalism teaching this year.

She said: ‘I am delighted to welcome everyone back in Preston in our 50th anniversary year. They are part of an extensive network of journalists and former journalists who began their careers in Preston. Even in these difficult times, we are still working hard to make sure UCLan stays at the forefront of journalism education and prepares students for careers in a rapidly-changing industry.”

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