Alumni Services

Harriet Hoskyns-Abrahall

Harriet Hoskyns-Abrahall hurled herself into every aspect of student life, and has maintained that attitude towards life ever since.

Name Harriet Hoskyns-Abrahall
Degree Course Bachelor of Law
Year of Graduation 1960
Harriet Hoskyns-Abrahall

Your time at the University

Having grown up in India with a Scots/French mother, I wanted to explore my Scottish roots.  I chose Law at Edinburgh because of the interesting variety of courses, such as Public International Law, Forensic Medicine and Jurisprudence, not then offered at undergraduate level by English Universities.

Notable experiences included being one of the few of 400 students to sit at the feet of the great Moral Philosopher, Prof. MacMurray.  In Scots Law, our professor would come up with memorable little ditties like: You can forget your father, you can forget your mither, You can forget your sister and your brother, But you must never forget Bell against Bell.

I loved meeting people from all over the world through the Cosmopolitan Club, and realizing that my German flatmate had nothing to do with Hitler’s rise to power.  I ran for the Student Representative Council at the insistence of friends. Hoskyns-Abrahall- a name you will never forget!  - If you could ever remember it!  At the SRC we seemed to spend more time on Roberts’ Rules of Order than on anything else!  David Steele often intoning. On a point of order…

A favourite memory is climbing Arthur’s Seat every May 1st at dawn after an all-night party to pretend we were worshipping as Druids.  Another is attending the Edinburgh Festival, financing tickets by working at the Festival Club as a waitress, and suggesting that, with too many staff, instead of cutting some, the manager give us all shorter hours. I was the first to be let go!  And swimming outdoors for the University at the frigid pool at North Berwick and getting severe stomach cramps from the cold.

As an Edinburgh Student I became the first ever Scottish Ladies Trampoline Champion-there were only six contestants! And I loved hillwalking and orienteering at Firbush, which was brand new at the time.  I later became the representative for Women’s Sports on the University Court.  There were many weighty subjects to be discussed, so I fear my contributions were minimal.  But the experience served me well.

As an Edinburgh Student I became the first ever Scottish Ladies Trampoline Champion-there were only six contestants!

Harriet Hoskyns-Abrahall

Tell us about your Experiences since leaving the University

Edinburgh’s contribution to my career choices, and there were seven, were somewhat indirect.  Every job I had, however, had its legal implications so my background was extremely valuable.  The courses I took in business also helped me in the commercial aspects of my careers.  Many of my experiences were tied to aquatics; Edinburgh nurtured my love for the water. 

An early job was as a researcher and assistant lecturer in what became Edinburgh’s Department of Business Studies, before my husband (also a Law graduate and swimmer from Edinburgh), and I decided that Scotland was just too cold. We landed in the Bahamas, where there were very few legal textbooks and Scottish Law was a well-accepted degree. Three years turned into ten for me, forty for Brendan, my ex. Ours was a small law office so I decided to work there only in the mornings and to create and develop what became a large and varied aquatic school during the rest of the day and many evenings too.  I and my 39 instructors taught everything that was possible in, on, under or over the water.

One long-standing result of this endeavour is the Grand Bahama Marathon Swim Race, a two-mile ocean swim now in its 45th year.  Another is a movie entitled Babyswim, showing the amazing activities of children from 6 to 21 months in and under the water.  The movie won a Golden Eagle Award in 1979 in the US, this being the closest award to an Oscar for a documentary in those days.    The film is still being shown publicly 38 years later.

When I left the Bahamas I joined the YMCA fulltime, working internationally and becoming the Co-ordinator for all aquatic programming in ten US states, Alaska and Hawaii.  My Y Sabbatical in South America with my 8-year-old daughter, Bahama, was the experience of a lifetime.  When we came to Atlanta, Georgia I joined the local affiliate of National Public Radio and PBS TV.  Here my chief role became Business Development; in 2004 I had a proud moment, being awarded the “Star Underwriter of the Year” from personnel in 650 Public Radio Stations across the nation.  A further such moment occurred in 2007 when I was elected President of the Atlanta Chapter of the British American Business Group, a pseudonym for the British American Chamber of Commerce here.

Yet my proudest moments of all have been to do with the accomplishments of others.  First, my daughter, Bahama, a Shakespearean actor, now a New Zealand resident with new skills to fit a Kiwi lifestyle; then our second family of Ethiopian refugees.  The mother is spectacular, earning $8 per hour and raising three splendid kids on her own.  The older two have both won scholarships to a prestigious school and I have no doubt that all three will become outstanding citizens.

Alumni wisdom

No matter what you study, follow your dreams; you will find that your Edinburgh experience will pay dividends in all sorts of ways.  Most of them will be unpredictable when you graduate, and the more exhilarating for that.