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Leeds Trinity alumni celebrate 50 years of teaching and companionship

Posted on 16 September 2019

news, news:Alumni, news:Childhood and Education

​​Two alumni from Leeds Trinity University have recently celebrated their 50-year anniversary since they started their careers as trainee teachers in the place where they met each other and became life partners.

Retired teachers Stephen and Mary Harding met in 1969, during their first year of teacher training at Leeds Trinity (or Trinity and All Saints College (TASC) as it was then known), and soon realised their relationship was more than a friendship. On Sunday (15 September), the couple celebrated 50 years since they embarked on their teaching careers in the place where they met as young adults. 

Reflecting on their first year and meeting each other, they said: "A group of us became friends during our first year. It was indeed just over a year in college before we realised that the friendship was more than one of just being part of the Lower Common Room crowd. We have celebrated our first date day in November 1970 every year since then. We saw Doctor at Sea in a Leeds cinema and paid with shillings and pence."

The Hardings got engaged whilst studying at Trinity and moved to London, where Mary was originally from, to start their careers as teachers in Catholic schools. They then spent the whole of their teaching careers working in inner city, multi-cultural London schools which enabled them to develop their skills, sometimes in quite challenging situations.

As their careers progressed, both Stephen and Mary took on the challenges of leadership. Stephen progressed from a French and Spanish teacher to Deputy Head and then Headteacher in a secondary school, before becoming a student trainer and assessor at University College London. Mary started her career as a History and Special Educational Needs primary teacher, before taking on the responsibilities as a member of the Senior Leadership Team.

Stephen/Mary said: "We always saw teaching as a career choice and not just a means of making money. With the pupils at the heart of everything we did, the personal rewards often outweighed the considerable efforts we made to be successful. We are both proud of our careers and especially the fact that we remained in the job despite the challenges. A successful teacher doesn't just do it for the money but for a genuine desire to make the lives of others better."
 
After retiring early in 2007, the couple volunteered in Guyana, as part of the Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) scheme, working with the Ministry of Education to create teaching materials. This led to another one-year international placement in Rwanda where they worked with over 100 schools. They are still involved with VSO today and support the London volunteer selection process and deliver talks to applicants. 

Brett Arnall, Alumni Relations Officer at Leeds Trinity University, said: "We are very lucky to be in touch with so many members of our alumni community who have worked all over the world and continue to invest their time into giving back to Leeds Trinity. We are delighted when our alumni forge lifelong friendships, and it is particularly special in Stephen and Mary's case, as they celebrate 50 years of teaching and partnership this weekend." ​​​​

You can read more the Hardings in their alumni profile and find out more information about teacher training​ at Leeds Trinity.