25th Anniversary Reunion:

25th Anniversary Reunion 11 – 13 July 2003 of the 1978 Honours/Joint Honours Geology Group Graduation

Let’s put it this way: three years ago I did not have contact with anyone from my geology group (though I was in touch with a couple of staff members). I read PROM regularly but never seemed to know anybody mentioned – especially since the department was merged with geography to become the Institute of Geography & Earth Sciences. I made a suggestion to Denis Bates, one of my lecturers, that maybe a 25th anniversary reunion for our honours group might be fun and he offered me his unbridled support. The rest is, as they say, history!
A reunion is hardly ever the result of one person’s labours but the product of team-work. Over the last couple of years members of the group and college staff have been able to trace nineteen (76%) of our group. The remaining six are out there somewhere but seem not to want to be found! Well, that’s their loss!! We agreed on the need, the date and the location – e-mails have made networking so easy!! Our group is widely spread around the globe: we have work commitments or are living in Australia, Cameroon, Canada, France, Libya, Mozambique, Spain, the USA and of course the UK.
But on the evening of Friday, 11 July 2003 ten members of our group, along with partners and lecturers, assembled for an informal chat and meal at the Four Seasons Hotel in Portland Street, Aberystwyth.
The years rolled back!! Friendships were renewed, hair colouration remarked on, partners introduced, careers discussed and so much more! The hours passed and the years evaporated! Nick’s famous fan dance at the Rudler Club dinner was re-lived, foul weather on field trips and other moments from our years in Aber discussed. The antics and personalities in Padarn and Alex Halls also found much favour! Some updates on who did what with whom and when were also given but I could not possibly include them here – you had to be there to find out!!
It is also of note that our group’s careers talk at the end of the third year was proven to be of little value. The speaker asked us to show who was expecting to work in the geological sphere when we left Aber, to which we all put up our hands. He told us that on average, only two out of 25 would be able to do so and that we should broaden our job-seeking horizons. Well, all but two of the 19 (and one of the others we have not yet been able to trace) ended up working in geology-related fields, including minerals, petroleum, hydro-geology, geophysics, geological academia, teaching and administration. That is a huge compliment to the staff that taught us and we reminisced about the ones no longer with us – Prof’s Wood and Davies, JP and Harry Convery – we hope they have a smirk on their faces! Or as Simon Wadmore said during the weekend, probably no other group in the history of geology at tertiary level in the UK has done more damage to the environment than ours!!!
This was, however only the first of several events planned for the weekend. On Saturday morning at 9.00 o’clock we met for the field trip, led by Bill Perkins. We were soon heading up Penglais Hill, looking for the grit bin that “Squeaky Clean” (name changed to protect the guilty!) had slept in one night when too drunk to make it back to his hall! We headed towards Barmouth for a review of part of the Cambrian sequence to be found in the hills behind the town. The weather was beautiful and the whole area was at its best – we realized why Aber is such a magnet for tourists and lamented that term times couldn’t be changed!
After a strenuous morning’s attentiveness we retired to the George III pub on the southern bank of the estuary. If I say that things continued to improve through lunch, you’ll guess by how much when I admit that the afternoon’s itinerary slipped and slipped and was eventually postponed until a later date! The coach trip back to Aber was uneventful as most of us were asleep!
After a sleep and a shower we met-up again in Brynamlwg at 7.30pm for the reunion dinner. Everyone was in top form! Aled the Steward did us proud – the dinner was great, the atmosphere jovial and we heard two differing viewpoints on the last 25-years of geology at Aber. Alex Maltman pointed out that much of our coursework was still available in the current curriculum but under different titles – though we all felt aggrieved by the abolition of the geology degree. Max Dobson gave the after-dinner talk in his inimitable style, which was well received. The point was raised that just maybe the age of geologists rampaging over the hills looking to rape and pillage the land for resources is past and that we are now in the era of the earth scientist who roams the hills looking for resources to sensitively remove for the good of all humanity, before carefully reinstating the previous ecosystems? Maybe change is good after all?!
The inevitable housekeeping had to be done of course: all those who had helped to make the weekend the success it was were thanked and a tough decision needed to be made – was there a desire for a further reunion and if so, when (suggestions of a 26th, 30th and 50th had been made!)? The popular decision was for a 30th, to be held some time in 2008 at a venue and date to be determined. In the meantime we hope to be able to find the remaining six from our year.
For those of you wishing to refresh your memories, the 1978 Single and Joint Honours Group comprised:

Attending –

John Bibby
Nigel Brown
Gareth Butler
Helen Hickman (nee Hook)
Bob Mathews
John Perry
Rob Strachan
Simon Wadmore
Ade Wallis
Mike Wiggans

Unable to attend –

Andy Barraclough
Nick Burcham
Steven Habesch
Antony Jones
Pat Kelly (nee Austin)
Steve Knibb
Adrian Marks
Ian Tyler
Mark Willaimson

Whereabouts unknown –

Peter Reeve
Phil Scott
John P. Sellars
Neil Smith
Geoff V. Thomas
E. Ursula Williams

It should be pointed out that we are also in touch with Phil Copestake and Derek Harrison, who completed their postgrad studies in 1978. Unfortunately neither was able to make it to the weekend. If there are any more postgrads from 1978 (or information on them), please contact me on hunkelerbrown@tvcabo.co.mz and you/they can be added to our e-mail listing.
Staff members attending were Denis Bates, Max Dobson, Ron Fuge, Alex Maltman, Bill Perkins and Rob Whittington. Lastly but by no means least, it was great to meet partners Anne, Jerry, Joanne, both of the Louise’s, Sonia, Sue and Wendy.
We left the dinner late and some continued discussions well into the night. On Sunday morning we met one last time at the Four Season for a late breakfast, after which most people set off to return to their normal lives. Some of us stayed on however and spent a lovely, relaxing day visiting the Llywernog Mine Historical Site and Devil’s Bridge. The beautiful weather held. In the evening, Gareth Butler gave Helen, Jerry and myself us an impromptu tour of Aber, including one of the new bars. The town has definitely brightened up in the intervening years – even better than from memory!
Once again, thanks to all who assisted with the organization of the event and all those who attended it! It seems as if geology isn’t dead in Aber – it just has a new name!
Nigel Brown

1978 Reunion

Photo: left-right, standing: Simon Wadmore, Gareth Butler, Ann Wadmore, John Bibby, Bill Perkins, Helen Hickman, Robert Whittington, Ron Fuge, Max Dobson, Louise Brown, John Perry, Rob Strachan, Wendy Benson, Sue Whittington, Louise Perkins, Sonia Dobson, Alex Maltman, Joanna Maltman,; left-right, kneeling: Denis Bates, Mick Wiggins, Nigel Brown.


Photo at George III

Photo at George III: Nigel Brown, John Perry, Bill Perkins, Rob Strachan, John Bibby

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