It’s a family affair for Class of 2022 graduate


An apprentice at Leeds Trinity University has followed in his parents’ footsteps by graduating during this summer’s Class of 2022 ceremonies.

Family celebrating graduation day.

Tom Harrison, who completed a degree apprenticeship at the University, was joined at his graduation ceremony by his parents, over 50 years after they completed their own studies at the same institution. 

Tom’s father, Richard Harrison, joined All Saints College in its inaugural year of 1966 to train as a teacher of Human Movement (PE).  After teaching for four years, he decided to change focus and started a business buying and selling small and medium retail companies before spending the final 15 years of his career pursuing a passion for horse racing as a jockey’s agent.

Margaret Harrison (née Pulfer) joined Trinity College in 1967 to train as a Spanish teacher and went on to become one of the college’s first students to receive a degree, which at the time was delivered by the University of Leeds.  The couple married less than a month after Margaret’s graduation. Margaret then taught Spanish and French for over 15 years, taking a break to have a family and spending part of her career working with Richard.

Tom’s pathway to Leeds Trinity was in a different area.  Having previously graduated with a degree from the University of Sheffield in 2015, he joined the sales department at Arena Group.  In 2019, Tom was put forward by his employer to complete the Business-to-Business Sales Professional Degree Apprenticeship, a three-year work-based programme of study resulting in a full Bachelor’s degree.  Tom continues to work in B2B sales where he works closely with large corporate clients. 

Tom Harrison said: “My parents had the best time on my graduation day.  Being back on campus and speaking to people who still remembered people they knew who had studied here – there’s a real community feel.  That is something special about Leeds Trinity that isn’t often found in larger institutions.”

Margaret Harrison also reflected on the community feel at the University.  She said: “It was a great community with a small number of staff and students.  The students were close to the staff who were very approachable and friendly people which made it a very secure and happy place to live, learn and work in.  We also liked the campus; we could be in Leeds very easily but Horsforth was great and became a big part of our lives, which we have loved having the chance to reminisce about since Tom has been here.”

Richard Harrison said: “When I arrived, I remember the accommodation building works not being complete.  We had to stay in Ilkley which meant we had extra time to get to know our peers while traveling to and from the campus for the first few weeks.  Of course, it has changed a lot but there are still many areas we recognise and it is great to see the improvements and developments that continue to take place.” 

Speaking about the Business-to-Business Sales Professional Degree Apprenticeship, Tom Harrison said: “I found it to be a really well-run course and it has definitely helped me to get to where I am in my career more quickly than would otherwise have been possible.

"It’s a great way to study which has enabled me to quickly take what I was learning and focus it on helping in my day-to-day job.  The course has formalised some of the things I had picked up through practical experience by teaching me the theory behind what I was doing and why.  It was also great to learn together with an interesting group of people from different sales environments.”

Claire Newhouse, Dean of External Engagement and Impact who leads the Centre for Apprenticeships Work Based Learning and Skills at Leeds Trinity said: “Tom’s story really highlights the way our programmes have developed over the years at Leeds Trinity University, continuing to transform lives and support people into their chosen careers whilst maintaining a strong sense of community.  I was delighted to see Tom and meet his parents on graduation day – I hope that we can continue to build the Leeds Trinity family more as we grow!”

Find more information about Higher and Degree Apprenticeships at Leeds Trinity University on the website.