Memory Lane: My Guiding Lights


Alumni Pamela Ackroyd and Chris Reading on their wedding day and Pamela photographed by the River Trent

I started at the University in October 1968, studying Civil Engineering. During my first year, I shared a room in Lenton Hurst, which in those days was a residential annexe to Lenton Hall. My roommate was Trevor Rogers (Mathematics). More of him later. During my second and third years I moved into the main building and occupied a penthouse apartment in Block 6.

I assume the layout now is the same as then: four rooms on each side of a central landing. Three of us were civil engineers: Terry Nelson, Nigel Pearson and me. The fourth member of the gang was Laurie Bailey, but I can’t remember what he studied.

Nigel, Laurie and I were about 20 but Terry was a mature student, maybe six years older. At that time of your life, six years is a big age gap. We all looked up to him as a father figure. We probably teased him about being an old fuddy-duddy. He wasn’t but you know what students are like.

The other big difference was that he had a girlfriend, Jill, from Nightingale Hall. She was lovely and we were all jealous. Annoyingly, Jill was just as nice as Terry; they made a great couple. Terry was a wise head; someone you could talk to if you were feeling down.

I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but he provided some good advice, kept me on track and made those two years more enjoyable than they might have been. Terry and Jill kindly invited me to their wedding in Cambridgeshire, after our graduation. That’s the last time I saw them.

^ Photos of Pamela Ackroyd, taken by Chris Reading


Back to Trevor. It was thanks to him that I met my wife. One Saturday in the autumn of 1970, the start of my final year, Trevor’s girlfriend, Judith, was throwing a joint 21st birthday party at Willoughby Hall with her friend, Lucy. Trevor was despatched to recruit a few men, to even up the numbers.

I was in a grumpy mood and initially declined the invitation. Trevor persevered, telling me not to be such a misery and that I needed to get out more, which was true. I finally relented and accompanied him to the party. He introduced me to Lucy, and I danced with her for a while. Lucy, being a gracious hostess, asked if I would like to meet someone else. I spotted a beautiful woman with dark curly hair and a cheeky smile. Yes”, I said. “Do you know her?”

She didn’t but introduced us anyway. That’s how I met Pamela Ackroyd (Pharmacy), introduced by a woman whom neither of us knew at a party I almost didn’t attend. We hit it off straight away and made each other laugh. Pam’s been my guiding light ever since.

We celebrated our 49th wedding anniversary in June this year, which also marked 50 years since we graduated. We’ll be attending a 50th anniversary reunion at the university in September.

Chris has let us know that he intends to consider leaving a Gift in his Will to the university. Find out more about becoming a Guiding Light and tell us who your own were.