Memory Lane: 50 years of friendship

It’s said that university friendships last a lifetime – and this group of alumni are certainly evidence of it. Back in 1974 Len Steed (Law, 1975) and 11 friends drove to Sherwood Forest to celebrate the end of their 2nd year exams with a picnic.

Fast forward to July 2023 and the group, which has now expanded to 22 alumni, a former member of staff and their extended families met for the 50th time in the Millennium Gardens on University Park.

Memory Lane 50 years 2023

The tradition begins

50 years ago Lynnie Porter née Beer (Chemistry, 1975), Dave Porter (Physics, 1974), Trish Parker née Stuart (Social Sciences, 1974) and Len Steed (Law, 1975) celebrated the end of their second-year exams with a picnic.

Along with eight other university friends they drove out to Sherwood Forest and spent the afternoon eating, drinking and singing the Robin Hood theme tune at bemused passersby.

Every year since, the tradition has continued and built - even through a Covid-19 lockdown - with celebrations being held everywhere from Wollaton to Colwick, criss-crossing the county. The gatherings attract attendees locations as far flung as Canada and Australia, allowing them to reconnect with friends they had temporarily misplaced. 

“We used to say to each other, ‘Can you imagine doing this in 10 years? We might be married. We might even have children and mortgages!' Now the kids are grown up, and we have grandchildren. But we keep coming back every year.”
Lynnie Porter

Derby Hall devotion

While many Nottingham venues have played host to their reunions over the years, there seems to be one that holds a particularly special place in their hearts. Len recalled first meeting Dave in Derby Hall during freshers’ week in 1972 as they bonded over 14p pints and a mutual love of basketball. He’d go on to meet his future wife Gail here, too.

The group has fond memories of watching Live Aid 1985 with their children in Derby Hall during one of their reunions, and even returning for the hall’s 50th anniversary in 2013.

Back to the 70s...

What was life like at the University of Nottingham in the ‘70s? The group painted a colourful picture of Wednesday night discos, experimental mixed sex halls, wining and dining with Swedish tennis superstar Björn Borg, and waiting in line for their weekly phone calls with parents using the communal telephones.

Not to mention, of course, the traditional UoN pastime of standing in a carpark in the freezing cold at 3am during a fire drill!

Dave fondly recalled the now legendary inaugural concert of Paul McCartney’s Wings. “They charged 50p a ticket and all proceeds went to the SU. They knew six songs and they played them each three times!” he recounted the excitement that spread around campus like wildfire when the band’s van first pulled up outside of the Portland Building.    

“Everyone loved their three years in Nottingham and lifelong friendships have come together as result. We never stop feeling like students. As soon as we set foot back on campus, it’s like we’re right back there again in the ‘70s.”
Lynnie Porter

Meet the Class of '75 (ish)

    Neé Subject Year of graduation
Pete Bardwell   Chemistry 1975
Simon Berlin   SocAdmin  1975 
Pete  Brennand    Law  1975 
Andy  Brewster    Chemistry  1975 
Chris  Brewster  Woolley  Sociology 1976 
Trish  Brunt  Wincote  SocAdmin  1975 
Rick  Bryant    Chemistry  1975 
Steve  Cross    Chemistry  1975 
Sue  Davies    Pharmacy  1975 
Bob  Drake    Chemistry  'not quite' 
Barbara Gilks  Richards  Sociology  1975 
Janet Greenfield Fowler Maths 1975
Andy Hearsey   Economic History 'not quite'
Alan Lovett   Physics 1973
Annette Lovett Reid SocAdmin 1975
Steve & Nick Mayers Chris Nicholas SocAdmin 1975
Ken Parker   Industrial Economics 1974
Trish Parker Stuart SocAdmin 1975
David Porter   Physics 1974
Lynnie Porter Beer Chemistry 1975
Roger Read   Production Engineering 1975
Pam Redford Gates SocAdmin 1975
Pete Redford   Mining Engineering 1975
Jilly Shackleton   SocAdmin 1975
Pete Smith   Electronics and Electrical Engineering 'not quite'
Gail Steed Daniels Assistant Burser, Derby Hall n/a
Lionel (Len) Steed   Law 1975
Tony Williams   Chemistry 1975
Kevin Wakefield   SocAdmin 1976
Chris Woodhouse   Chemistry 1975
Ruth Young   SocAdmin 1975

As for this year's picnic, according to Len: "It’s fair to say that everyone was in their usual good form, the conversations flowed and the odd toast was made!

"And, given the variability of the weather in 2023, the sun shone down on us. Another good do was had by all!"

It won't surprise you to know that thoughts are already looking ahead to the 51st edition in 2024 too!

Share your Memory Lane story

Do you have a longer-lasting friendship with your alumni friends?

Whatever your memory, we would love to hear it - and it could appear on these pages! Email and put 'Memory Lane' in the subject line.