4 August 2011
Harold Jones in his robes at Graduation 2011
Wartime student graduates
A Cardiff mechanical engineering alumnus ended a 66-year wait for his degree when he attended the first of the University’s 2011 graduation ceremonies.
85-year-old Harold Jones successfully finished his studies in 1945, but was sent to complete military training before he had a chance to collect his certificate.
Six decades later he returned to Cardiff University to graduate with fellow engineering students.
Speaking about the occasion, Harold said: “I was very much looking forward to it. 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.”
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.
Along with Harold, around 7000 students graduated across 13 ceremonies this year. Approximately 19,000 of their relatives and friends were welcomed to Cardiff to share in the occasion and the ceremonies were broadcast live on the BBC big screen in the Hayes.
This year, seven Honorary Fellows were welcomed to the University. They were:
Henry Engelhardt, Chief Executive of the Admiral Group plc, one of the most successful car insurance firms in the UK.
Professor Dame Julia Higgins DBE FRS FREng, Emeritus Professor of Polymer Science in the Department of Chemical Engineering in Imperial College, London.
Bettany Hughes, a historian, author and broadcaster who has written and presented a number of documentaries for television.
Professor Zhaofeng Lu, President of Capital Medical University and a great supporter of Cardiff-China link.
Fiona Phillips, a well known television presenter and broadcaster who presented GMTV for twelve years, writes a weekly column in the Daily Mirror and is a columnist for Tesco magazine. (Thursday 21 July, 1.15pm)
Baroness Jenny Randerson, a Liberal Democrat Life Peer and a member of the National Assembly for Wales for 12 years.
Sir Stanley Thomas, one of Wales’s most successful entrepreneurs and prominent philanthropists.
Graduation Photo Gallery
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