To celebrate the 60th anniversary of their graduation from Edinburgh, 1955 geography graduates gathered in May for a reunion lunch.
It was autumn 1951 when a group of students from throughout Scotland, England and, from as far afield as, West Africa, arrived in Edinburgh to join the geography department of the University, then based at High School Yards.
During the four years that followed, the group forged friendships as they familiarised themselves with the city; all the while absorbing everything that the department had to offer, including the teachings of Professor Alan Ogilvie - the first Chair of Geography in Edinburgh, Arthur Geddes – the colourful scholar, poet, town planner and musician, and Dr Catherine Snodgrass – lecturer on regional geography and widely published on agriculture and population.
Several students from the class of 1955 became principal teachers of geography in schools across Scotland, others became headmasters and one alumnus, Norrie Thompson, returned to Edinburgh as a lecturer at the then Moray House College of Education, now Moray House School of Education.
The class of 1955 have organised and attended reunions regularly since graduation, but the 60th anniversary was something special and a notable milestone for all concerned.
Held in the rooms of the Royal Perth Golfing Society, members enjoyed tea, coffee and a four course lunch before alumnus, Kenny Maclean addressed the gathering. His talk, concerning Professor Ogilvie and the late Norrie Thompson a member of the class of 1955 who had, together with Kenny, published several academic publications, was an enlightening trip down memory lane.
The group attribute the lasting friendships that were formed to the various and varied fieldtrips they took part in as students at Edinburgh. Memorable bonding excursions included Wiston Lodge in South Lanarkshire, Newton Stewart in Dumfries and Galloway, and a trip over the border to Scarborough in North Yorkshire; an expedition that two of the party decided to tackle by bike, cycling the 230 mile journey there and back.
The trips culminated in an Italian adventure which took them to Milan, Lake Como and Genoa and was notable for the introduction of kilts to the locals and pasta to the pallets of our intrepid scholars. It was a memorable field excursion that was brought vividly to life during discussions and shared recollections at the reunion lunch.
One such memory [shared] was wearing the kilt along Genoa’s waterfront district which attracted colourful reactions from Italian ladies of the night. The other was our first clumsy attempts at spaghetti eating whilst sharing an evening meal in a small outdoor restaurant overlooking beautiful Lake Como.
The reunion wasn’t just concerned with looking back to days gone by. It was also a time to reflect on the present and, in particular, to discuss the value of the friendships that have been maintained over the last 60 years.
One class member, who has not enjoyed good health for some time, remarked upon the unconditional friendship and support that he has experienced from class mates and how important the group has been during this time.
The University of Edinburgh, with its fieldtrips and friendships, was just the beginning.