Find out what life is really like at Durham University

David Breeze, University College

The interviews at Castle and the History Department in 1961 clinched it for me; I was captivated by Durham.

When I arrived in September 1962, my first tutor was Eric Birley, Professor of Romano-British History and Archaeology. Towards the end of term he mentioned that the university ran an archaeological training excavation. I duly attended that, and I was hooked. I not only started the Roman Britain special subject the following year, but I embarked on learning how to dig. In those days, a dissertation was part of the special subject and I found that I enjoyed research, so I stayed on to undertake my PhD in Durham. On the completion of that, I was offered a post as an assistant inspector of ancient monuments in the Ministry of Pubic Building and Works, and there I stayed for the next 40 years, witnessing many changes of departmental titles and climbing up the ladder until I became Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments for Scotland in 1989.

At the age of 60 I moved sideways and spent the next few years preparing the nomination of the Antonine Wall as a World Heritage Site, successfully achieved in 2008, and helping to create the first transnational, phased, serial World Heritage Site (wonderful UNESCO jargon), Frontiers of the Roman Empire. 

Looking back, it all seems so serendipitous. If Eric had not been my tutor, I would not have taken his special subject nor attended an excavation and everything else flowed from that. And ‘that’ included my wife, who I met on the university training excavation in 1966, started courting in 1968 and married in 1972. Fortunately, Pamela (Aidans 1968-71) did not stay in archaeology but without her support I would certainly not have achieved so much. 

Lesley Ingleson (nee Read), Trevelyan College

I graduated from Trevelyan College after studying Mathematics and married Stuart Ingleson that summer.

He was also at Durham (Bede College 1965 – 70) and studied geography. We are still happily married and so will be celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary in 2020 along with all the family. We have two sons and seven grandchildren (…amazing!).

I had always wanted to do Computing so I applied to Fujitsu/ICL as a graduate trainee in application programming. Computing was a good career choice for me and very rewarding. I had quite a number of jobs, following Stuart around the country as he got promoted. Ultimately I had various IT director roles but my most exciting and challenging was when I was given the opportunity to be managing director of a European travel company.

Now retired, we are very fortunate to live in the Trough of Bowland, an area of outstanding natural beauty in the North West of England. We enjoy spending time with the family, travelling widely and getting involved with local activities.  

Ron Emerson

I had read engineering at Manchester and coming to the new fledgling Durham Business School was a turning point in my life.

I went on to spend a good deal of time in banking eventually being global head of wholesale banking for Standard Chartered, then took a sabbatical at Oxford and moved on in other directions with a plural career. This recently led to being the founding chairman of the UK government’s economic development bank The British Business Bank which specialises in supporting SMEs, the backbone of the UK economy. 

But Standard Chartered was also a turning point as, when working for them in Malaysia I met my wife Angle who was visiting with Durham University for an educational fair. Angie looked after international students at Durham and we discovered that we were both born in Hartlepool – the hand of fate descended and we were married a couple of years later – thanks to Durham being smart enough to visit Malaysia! I should say that Angie can’t wait to visit the hotel where we are staying as it’s the old Shire Hall where she had her office.

Whilst at DUBS I and four others founded the Grad Soc boat club, quite something given none of us has ever rowed before. We rowed at Hexham and Durham Regatta. With the latter we had become quite ambitious and entered an eight in the novice category. There were only three entrants and we had a bye to the final. When we saw that we would be rowing against a crew of sixteen year olds the celebratory party was already organised. The trouble was this was Durham School’s European champions. Well we only lost by three lengths.

Happy days.

David Breeze, Lesley Ingleson (nee Read) and Ron Emerson

Durham alumni, class of 1970, welcomed back to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their own graduation at this year's winter Congregation