As we celebrate 50 years of Bede Sixth Form College, we have loved catching up with former staff and students to share their memories of the college.
Here Tony Pitchford reflects on his time at Bede in the early 90s.
I started Bede College in 1991 and have so many fond memories of my time there. Bede gave me the chance to meet new people and build friendships that have lasted to this day.
My tutor was Mr Wain, who also taught my English Language class. He was like Sergeant Wilson from Dad’s Army; totally laid back, brilliantly funny and a real gentleman. How he put up with us, I’ll never know.
I remember working hard towards my A levels, but the highlight of the day was always a visit to Doreen’s canteen in the social area. A cuppa and a cheese toastie kept you going through even the toughest Chemistry lesson from Doc Lewis.
About the time we started, rave was happening and grunge broke; it seemed like everyone was in checked shirts and Dr Martens boots, or heading out for a long weekender. Lunchtime was a race to see who could get their choice of cassette tape into the player in the social area; you were allowed a few tracks from your favourite band before someone else put their tunes on.
After my first year at Bede I realised that my real passion was the humanities rather than the sciences. Both Mr Wain and Mrs Wain (as Miss Cox became around that time!) had filled my head with novels and poetry. Following a tough conversation with deputy head Mr Fox, it was agreed that I could start all over again and take different A levels. As it turned out, this was even more of a life changing decision than I first thought. I met Vicki in my English Literature class and we recently celebrated 25 years together.
Bede inspired me a lot. My love of literature took me to university and a Masters Degree in English. After living in Manchester for 10 years, we moved back to Billingham and returned to friends and friendships made in college.
I’ve been working in further education and training for nearly 20 years, I’m really pleased to see Bede offering such a broad range of courses, including the new T Levels. My daughter plans to join the college later this year and I hope she and her fellow students find Bede as interesting and as much fun as we did thirty years ago.