Your Friendship Memories (Part 1)

In celebration of the 60th Anniversary, Alumni Voices features some of your friendship memories from over the years at the University of York.

Merrydown in Goodricke Dining Hall

“I remember a mid-eighties cider promotion and disco in Goodricke where a great deal was drunk and spilled! I was late arriving but my friend David was in the middle of his first date with his eventual wife, Lesley. David’s dancing caused quite a sensation that night, although Lesley and I now disagree about the exact reason for that. David and I had a near 40-year friendship that began on an October morning in 1984 in the Physics Building. His death last year has left me bereft, but when I look back over my undergrad days, half a lifetime ago, I only have happy memories of the place and the people who helped make me.”

– Peter Beveridge, 1987

Friends born of Gamelan

“I was very lucky to meet fellow like-minded oddballs at the ‘Gamelan Ensemble’ during my time studying Music at the University of York. The Music Society Summer ‘ball’ will go down in history as the night we all decided to become firm friends, a fabulous dancing trio, and ping-pong foes.

Ten years later we still keep in touch for the big moments, and reminisce over our times at York as young whipper-snappers. Although the skills gained in Gamelan Ensemble may have diminished somewhat over time…”

– Em Sinclair, 2014

A Drink With Friends

“One of my fondest memories is working with my friends in the library late at night. We used to gather about the Costa machines for a well deserved flavoured milk. It was renowned for getting us our A-game, so we called it ‘MALK’!

Really looking forward to going back and seeing all the sights – especially my go-to lecture spot in Central Hall.”

– George Rustle, 2015 

An Alcuin Archaeology friendship

“Tabi was my neighbour in Alcuin college, and we both happened to be on Archaeology courses. Cooking for each other, watching the same TV shows and late night snack trips are some of the best memories that I have of my university time. Nothing beat a spontaneous trip to B&M! Riverside lunches at Pitcher & Piano were good too.

We now live in very different geographical areas of the UK, but we have maintained our friendship. Last year I got married and Tabi was one of my bridesmaids, alongside my sisters and aunt.”

– Shannon Bermon-Marsh, 2017

English Freshers Mixer

“During my first few weeks of university the English department was hosting a freshers’ social in the F.R. Leavis room for people to get to know each other on the course, so I forced myself out of the safety blanket that was my accommodation in an attempt to make friends. Stepping into that busy room full of new faces was terrifying. But thanks to that decision I happened to meet some of my best friends today. Four years later and I have laughed, cried, and shared so many memories with the girls I met on that social. It’s amazing how such tiny choices can have a huge impact on our lives.”

– Maya Bewley, 2022

Finding my best friend

“Heading to University everyone warned me not to expect to make close friends right away, but on the first day I moved into halls I got talking to the girl down the hall and we’ve been best friends ever since.

From visits to Courtyard, Friends marathons, and spending far too much money at Evil Eye to graduation and being each other’s bridesmaids, we’ve had the most amazing time. I feel so lucky that we both ended up in James.”

– Zoe Clarke, 2017

DJ Gigs & Lifelong Friends

“Having taken up DJing in my late teens, Halifax college was the scene of my first ever ‘gig’ , having signed up for the university DJ society, and asking for a slot at an open decks night.

I remember being incredibly nervous stepping up to play for an hour or so, and the acoustics left a lot to be desired, but I got through it…and it must have gone okay, as I went on to run the society a few years later.

Of more note is that 20 odd years later, I’m still DJing fairly regularly, and alongside the guy who organised that night, who went on to become a best friend, and the best man at my wedding.”

– Richard Graham, 2005

Women’s Rugby Team

“We were the York women’s rugby team – when we scrabbled to get a first 15 together.

We share many great memories of nights out in the Charles XII, Toffs or Ziggy’s, as well as rugby fixtures, and, of course, Roses.

Over the years we all met for weddings and birthdays as well as reunions, and visiting Katy in Düsseldorf. More recently we met up in York for a reunion.”

– Julie Hyland, 1998

Creating a Verbal Liability Waiver

“I was lucky enough to have a pair of wonderful friends in the LBGTQIA+ and BAME community who lived in Constantine College in my first year of law school. One evening after our exams, we set about creating a liability waiver to bind indefinitely. Very exciting! The waiver remains in place to this day, and both accompanied me to my Hen Party in May.” 

– Anonymous

Friendship at York inspires future careers

“The University of York was the launch of a career defining friendship which has spanned five decades between myself, Professor Emerita Maureen Warner-Lewis, and Professor David Ǫlatunbǫsun Ǫkȩ. We were able to reminisce about our York years when David and his wife visited me in Kingston, Jamaica in February 2023. 

While studying for my MPhil. in Linguistics at the University of York, I met David one day in 1965 when he greeted me in Yoruba, assuming that I, a West Indian native, was Nigerian.  This led to many intriguing conversations about similarities between people and culture, culminating in David inspiring the focus of my Ph.D. dissertation on the structure of the Yoruba language in Trinidad and my lifelong work on continuities of African culture in the Caribbean.

On first encounter David remarked  that since many West Indians looked like Africans, he wondered what aspects of African culture they practised.

I answered that I knew of none, though admitted hearing once on a radio programme that the Shango religion in Trinidad was thought to be derived from Africa. 

“Shango! But,” said he, “Shango is a Yoruba deity!”

That was the beginning of his tutoring me about various aspects of Yoruba culture. He challenged me that if the religion of the Yoruba – the Orisha religion – remained in Trinidad, then there must be other things as well. That was the start of my personal delving into retentions of African culture in Trinidad and in the Caribbean in general. 

Soon after I began studying the Yoruba language from him in a small class of two students, the other being Edwin Brandon – an English undergraduate in Philosophy and Language.

Edwin gained a First Class at York, went on to Oxford for his doctorate, and eventually taught at Fourah Bay College in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and subsequently at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica and also in Barbados, where he achieved professorship. Edwin passed away in Barbados in late March 2023.

David Ǫlatunbǫsun Ǫkȩ had begun studying Linguistics at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. His groundbreaking PhD thesis, A Grammatical Study of the Yoruba Verb System was completed at York in 1968. He then taught Linguistics, English, and Yoruba at the Obafemi Awolowo University in Ife, Nigeria.  He has written on Yoruba linguistics and Nigerian politics, becoming a senator in the Nigerian parliament 1979-83. 

My pioneering 1968 dissertation “Language in Trinidad, with Special Reference to English” was the first graduate thesis to have been completed within the then newly formed Department of Language at the University of York. I am the author of five books, and have published articles on Caribbean and African Literature, Caribbean history and African-Caribbean language and cultural connections.  My son, Dr Jide Lewis, is also a University of York Alum., MSc Economics class of 2001.”

– Professor Emerita Maureen Warner-Lewis

Do you have friendship stories from your time at the University of York? We’d love to hear your memories of how you met your friends, how your friendship progressed over the years, places in York that hold special relevance to your friendships, travels you took around the world together.
We invite you to share your friendship memories via the Memory Map .

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1 Comment

  1. Extraordinary memories at York University during my year studying an MA in Public Policy & Public Administration. Great Professors. Great classmates. Lifelong friendships…last but not least, I remember the best Mexican parties at Carherine House. We even broke a piñata! Those were the authentic “Wonder Years”.

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