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Really early days . . .

In April 2018 I was delighted to get an out-of-the-blue e-mail from James Wheildon  of the Shanghai Daily, who was one of 16 students at the new Richmond College when it ran its first full-year journalism course in1969.

Four years passed . . . and then James was suddenly spotted here on my website by a fellow student from those far-off days -- the Oxford Mail's Chris Gray.

Now in touch with each other, James and Chris have been exchanging notes about their fellow students of 50-odd years ago. 


 James writes . . .


I have many fond memories of Sheffield, one of them sausage sandwiches at a pub called The Museum at two shillings each.  I lived in digs on Richmond Road for my first term, then moved with friends to Heeley near Bramall Lane. Eye opening times!


I have spent over 30 years and two spells at both The Times and The Wall Street Journal, after starting out on the Eastern Daily Press in Norwich and associated papers, and finishing up at The National in Abu Dhabi, and latterly Shanghai Daily, where I still am, though I will be retiring next month.


As to the 16-strong class of 1969-1970, I can remember all the names, but am sketchy on their career details.


The 16 are: Deborah (Debbie) Dunthorne; Miranda Merry; Jean Gilbert;

Irene McManus; me; Robert Scallon; Ian Walker; Ian Vickers; Charles Anderson (deceased); Martin Brodie;  David Bedford; Paul Armstrong;

Brian Harrigan and Bill (now James) Anslow (see Gerry's footnote);  Dave Simpson; Christopher Gray.


Robert, after working on newspapers in Portsmouth and Bath after leaving college, worked in WA and Sydney, returned to Britain as a freelance travel journalist in the early 1980s, before returning to Australia and an over-20-year career with the Australia's ABC.


Bill was a sub and also Production Editor on The Sun and The News of the World for over three decades from the mid 1970s. He has also worked in China.


Charles worked in Bristol in the 1970s, and on the South China Morning Post as features editor in the 1980s. He stayed in Hong Kong for many years, later working as a freelance, specialising in aircraft copy. He died about 10 years ago.


Brian was a rock music journalist. David  was a press officer with, I think, the Red Cross in the early 1980s, and Martin  was a press officer with Rolls-Royce for many years.


Irene  was freelancing in SW England in the 1980s with, if I recall correctly, work published  in the Guardian.  Ian Vickers spent his working life as a sports journalist with the Sheffield papers, and Ian Walker worked in Sheffield and later Bristol in the 1970s.


Debbie was working in Norfolk as a freelance journalist in the mid 1970s, specialising in property. No idea of what happened to Christopher Gray, Dave Simpson, Paul Armstrong, Jean Gilbert or Miranda Merry.




GERRY'S FOOTNOTE:  It turns out that 'Bill Anslow' has become Dr James Alan Anslow and lives in Suffolk.  He has followed a far-from-conventional path . . . he is now a researcher in the field of depth psychology - 'the psychoanalytic study of unconscious influence on the mind, culture and society'. (He's still one of us though - he still freelances as a sub on the Sun's Sunday edition!)


Brian Harrigan worked on the Burton Daily Mail after leaving college, but he got his dream job in1974 when he joined Melody Maker. 'It was on Fleet Street in those days, and I really felt I'd arrived,' he says. Since his MM days he has been involved with 'video journalism and a few books'.


Delighted to spot my webpage reference to his old classmates, he wrote to me to say: 'Thanks for the website.  You deserve the OBE  . . . the Old Blokes' Euphoria award!'

Chris writes . . .

It has always seemed to me very strange that in all these years I have not encountered any of my fellow students.  How I should love to get together again, to find out how many recall the electric-blue-suited Ted Heath rallying the Tory forces in his pursuit of power, or David Blunkett in his early days on the city council.  All will surely remember our encounter with the ukelele-strumming Tiny Tim ('Tiptoe through the Tulips') and the scarcely less bizarre (it seemed to me)  introduction to soon-to-be-abandoned printing techniques (flongs, anyone?) at the local technical college.

I was one of three or four on this 'pre-entry' course already signed up and partly financed by a newspaper.  That was the Peterborough Standard, where I went on to serve my 'indentures' until 1973, with my old schoolmate Richard Littlejohn as a colleague during the later stages.

There were 'block-release' students at the college too, most memorable of whom for me (happy hours of boozing) was Colin Brown of the Southport Advertiser, later to make his name as a Fleet Street political reporter.

I moved from Peterborough to Oxford, to a 47-year career on the Oxford Mail and Times in many roles but principally in the last two decades as arts editor and columnist  My last column was written as Covid 19 kicked in.

Wheildon five.jpg
Wheildon two.jpg

Three photos

       have survived!

TOP LEFT: Robert Scallon, Chris Gray, Bill {James) Anslow, Miranda's boyfriend David and the late Charles Anderson.


TOP RIGHT:  Robert Scallon and Miranda Merry.


BELOW: James Wheildon relaxing at 56 Albert Road, Heeley, the house he shared with three other students.

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