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18 July 2011
A Cardiff University mechanical engineering alumnus has ended a 66-year wait for his Cardiff University degree.
85-year-old Harold Jones successfully completed his studies in 1945, but was sent to complete military training before he had a chance to collect his certificate.
Now, six decades later he has returned to Cardiff University and graduated with fellow engineering students to huge applause from the audience at St David's Hall (Monday 18 July).
Speaking about the occasion, Harold said: "It's exciting even after all these years to finally get my degree. I enjoyed my time at Cardiff – I wasn’t famous academically, but there was lots I learned there. I didn’t come out as the complete article, but the University gave me the proper grounding I needed."
Harold’s connection with Cardiff began in 1942 when he was a student at Howard Gardens Sixth Form with ambitions of playing for the Welsh schoolboy rugby team. His mother had other ideas, however, and enrolled him on Cardiff’s Mechanical Engineering course.
"My mother knew the registrar and had tried to get me onto the Maths and Civil Engineering courses before settling for Mechanical Engineering," said Harold. "We never really discussed it. Some people did it to avoid getting called up, so that might have been my mother’s motivation."
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As well as studying for a degree, Harold completed weekly fire-watching and Home Guard duties which saw him manning a radar plotting station to track incoming German bombers. He also fitted in extra-curricular sporting and social activities with Cardiff’s Engineering Association.
In 1944, with one year left of his studies, Harold travelled to London with three friends and was accepted to join either the Royal Navy or Fleet Air Arm as midshipmen. He chose the latter and reported for training in 1945 just as hostilities were coming to an end in the Second World War.
Basic and specialist training followed before Harold left the Services and began his international engineering career, working in the Middle East, London, Holland, South Africa and Pembroke.
In 1951 he married wife Sheila and in 1966 moved to Spain staying there ever since. He is now a grandfather of eight and was joined at the ceremony by his wife and granddaughter Sarah.
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