On the blog this week, alumnus John Casswell shares with us his College memories. John retired from teaching in 2014, after working part-time for the last nine years of his career. While clearing out his loft recently, John discovered some old photographs of the College Football teams. This inspired him to make contact with the Alumni and Development team and share his memories. Carry on reading for an insight into the College life of a PE student at the then Chester College…
“I was once told that through our life’s journey, we come to crossroads where we have to choose which direction to take, frequently without any sign post to guide us. For me, one such crossroad came over 50 years ago during the autumn of 1967. I had drifted into the sixth form at school, but all I really wanted to do was play sport. I had realised I was never going to be good enough to play professionally, so I eventually realised the next best thing was to become a PE teacher.
“I applied to Leed’s Carneige and Chester College – coming from rural Lincolnshire, I knew nothing about Chester or Cheshire, and so it was a completely blind choice. My interview at Leeds was not a success, but I was informed my application had been passed to Chester. I was invited for an interview in November 1967. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming. There was a group of other interviewees and we quickly formed a bond. We were able mix with the students, who were all very encouraging, especially when we undertook the practical part of the interview. I returned home excited about the possibility of returning the following year and about ten days later, I was offered a place that I gratefully accepted.
“I arrived at Chester in September 1968 as a very nervous, shy and naïve student, ready to train to become a PE teacher. It was to be the start of a wonderful three years, during which I met some great friends. We were fortunate because the College was quite small and had an intimate feel – it seemed you knew everybody! I was allocated a room in Fisher (47) and quickly settled in. I do not think we appreciated how fortunate we were to have three meals a day and afternoon tea. The ladies in the dining room really looked after us and we soon recognised who was the most generous with the portions – all the practical lectures really gave you an appetite!
“Being in College led to a great social life, especially during our first year when we were all expected to stay at College during the weekends. The College bar was the centre of our social world and was always well used. The TV room in Fisher also proved to be popular and on reflection, I seemed to spend quite a lot of time in there! The Saturday night dance in Gladstone Hall was always eagerly awaited. Sadly coming from a boy’s grammar school, I was not very relaxed in female company and looking back, I fear I made some embarrassing attempts at establishing female friendships.
“At College, I was trained by some excellent lecturers, who were to prepare me well for my future career. The PE lecturers, led by Nick Parry who commanded great respect and affection among all the PE students, provided us with an excellent training that was to stay with me throughout my years in teaching. They set such professional standards in all they did and expected the same from us, which led to us working hard to achieve them. We spent many hours in practical lectures, which was everything I wanted to do, perfecting techniques in the different activities which was so helpful when demonstrating to pupils.
“College also provided excellent opportunities to play sport outside lectures. I played Football and Cricket, playing in the First team for both during my third year. At Football we had some outstanding players and were able to hold our own against local teams. We also reached the final of the PE Colleges Cup, but we sadly lost 1-0 to Loughborough. Looking back, I wonder how I found time to actually do any work!
“I left College in 1971 with a Certificate of Education and went in search of a teaching post. This led me to Scunthorpe, where I have remained ever since. I feel very fortunate to have chosen Chester and received such outstanding training, being able to gain a great all round education and preparation for my teaching career. Chester College provided me with the training to pass my love of sport on to my students and I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did.
“After around 50 years, I still have fond memories of my time at Chester and now in retirement, I wonder where the years have gone – some memories seem like last year! I really regret that I have lost contact with most of my classmates, but I hope to renew some old friendships. I would really appreciate it if anyone who might read this would like to get in touch and renew some old friendships.”
If you remember John from your College days and would like to get in touch with him, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and with your permission, we can pass on your contact details.