Generations of York: Fiona and Family

iona is wearing sunglasses on the left, while her dad and partner Kirsty are stood behind her. Her mum Claudia is on the right and smiling. They are stood outside on the hills.

In our new blog series ‘Generations of York’, we talk to families of alumni who attended York across the generations. First up is Fiona and her parents, Claudia and Chris, who both met in the 1980s while studying here. Just over 30 years later Fiona also attended York to study History, and happened to meet her partner Kirsty! Fiona and Kirsty are now happily married and have settled down together in city.

Why did you decide to come to York? 

Claudia (Mum): I came to York because it was as far away from London as I could imagine! But the sensible answer is it was the course content I liked most.

Chris (Dad): For me it was the young dynamic chemistry department that was growing and had an industry relevant curriculum.

Fiona: The fact my parents had been to York did have an influence in my choice. I mainly chose York because I studied history and really liked the course.

What are your favourite memories from your time as a student?

Claudia: The college bar did play a huge role. It was different in those days. It was the hub of college life and cheap too. College events were big in those days. Alcuin Christmas dinner, Bar Sports and lots of awesome bands too.

Alcuin snack bar for lunch. Mine was slice of corn beef, cheesey coleslaw and chips drowned in vinegar every single day. Playing ‘stumps’ at bar sports – so many injuries.

Chris: Alcuin snack bar, and the late night cheese toasties made with the unique ‘Hillards’ cheddar. Bar sports too… full of what today would be a health and safety nightmare.

Fiona: There are so many! But I think the friends I made, particularly in the rugby team (who are now friends for life). We spent a lot of time together playing and sometimes studying. And obviously I think meeting my wife needs to be up there!

  • The family are stood together and smiling. Kirsty and Fiona have striped Rugby shirts on and Fiona is holding a rugby ball.
  • There are over 100 people stood together on the hill outside Alcuin college. Most are smiling and someone is holding up a peace sign. It is a black and white photo.
  • A group of people are stood together inside a sports hall. One is holding a rugby ball and in the background is a sign reading 'York Uni' with balloons over it.
  • Fiona's dad Chris has his arms folded behind him, in front of Central Hall and the lake with a fountain
Fiona is grinning and wearing a stripy cardigan with a beanie. She is stood next to Kirsty who is wearing a police hat and badge, with a t shirt that reads 'Chief Superintendent Police Wheeler'
Fiona and partner Kirsty at the ‘Cops and Robbers’ social

How did your parents meet each other at the university? And how did you meet your partner Kirsty here?

Fiona: Dad was a third year. Mum had arrived fresh from the train from London and dad showed her to her room. The first two people mum met were her husband to be and the best man at the wedding. So when I went to uni, mum warned me to be careful with who I spoke to!

“Dad was a third year. Mum had arrived fresh from the train from London and dad showed her to her room. The first two people mum met were her husband to be and the best man at the wedding. So when I went to uni, mum warned me to be careful with who I spoke to!”

Kirsty and I met on the women’s rugby team. Kirsty remembers my first training session really well and although it wasn’t love at first sight, there was definite interest. On my first social of cops and robbers, as a fresher I had to be handcuffed to a second/third year and Kirsty and I were handcuffed together. After a few months of talking and a legendary Friday night social at the Deramore Arms – as they say – the rest is history.

How do you think your university experience differs from when your parents attended?

Fiona: I actually don’t think much was different. My parents spent more time on campus and it was normal to stay all night in a college bar rather than go out in town. It’s funny how similar our experiences were – we both met our other halves there and both my mum and I played rugby. Mum was really a pioneer of the time playing rugby and paving the way for future generations. But when I was at uni, we still had to fight to get equal treatment like the men’s team. Both my parents and I made friends for life that we are all still in touch with.

“Mum was really a pioneer of the time playing rugby and paving the way for future generations. But when I was at uni, we still had to fight to get equal treatment like the men’s team. Both my parents and I made friends for life that we are all still in touch with.”

The women’s rugby team are taking part in York Challenge Week, where sports clubs are raising money for their clubs. This year, the women’s rugby team are hoping to raise funds so that their 60+ players can learn to play rugby safely. Find out more on the Challenge Week website.

If you have a family story of your own that you’d like to share, please get in touch at alumni@york.ac.uk

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