83-year-old student collects degree scroll

Colin Clews, from Sedgley, has done things the opposite way round to the majority of students by studying his area of expertise AFTER a 50-year career in the subject.

Grandfather-of-six Mr Clews is thought to be the University’s oldest graduate this year. He collected a 2:1 BEng (Hons) degree in Mechatronics from the School of Technology.

He said: “I was nervous about graduating – I couldn’t imagine myself in a cap and gown beforehand!”

Mr Clews decided to study Mechatronics – a mixture of mechanical and electronic engineering – as his own career had been a mixture of the two subjects.

During the Second World War, he trained as an electricians’ mate and went on to spend 30 years working at British Federal Welders in Dudley. He then moved to the Birmingham branch of Lamb Technicon as Proposals Manager. The company supplied equipment to car manufacturers such as Rover, Ford and Vauxhall.

Mr Clews, who has three children, says: “It was very interesting, I had the best job in the world. But it was a career being faced with problems and never knowing how to solve them properly. I would find a solution, but always felt I needed to know more. I didn’t have time for a formal education – life got in the way.”

But once he had retired at the age of 65, Colin signed up to an Access to Education course at Dudley College. Unfortunately his wife Ivy was taken ill and Colin spent many years looking after her, before she sadly passed away.

“I was at a loose end. One day I found myself looking over my grandson Jamie’s shoulder at some work he was doing for his A-Levels and thought I would like to do something like that,” Colin, who was born in May 1928, explains.

He signed up for the course, based at the University’s Telford Campus in Priorslee, which involved a 50-mile journey for Colin, although he describes this as “no problem at all”.

He adds: “On my first day, I felt really uncomfortable. Everyone else was about 18 to 25 years of age, and there was me – white haired and 80 years old. I felt out of place. But then I became a sort of father figure to many of the other students and they needed a student rep for Mechatronics and said I would be the perfect example – I didn’t think I was the perfect example, but I could take a paternal role. “

For the three years, I had a thoroughly good time. It takes over your whole life – you don’t have time for mowing the lawn or painting and decorating! I made a lot of good friends and met a lot of nice people. The tutors were awesomely knowledgeable about their subject and the University itself was first class.

“For me, it was the difference between sitting by yourself and being in an active environment and having the brain cells working again.”

Colin was joined at the graduation ceremony at the Grand Theatre by his daughters Jane, who lives in London, and Maggie from Milton Keynes, as well as his son Tony who is Technical Director at the company Colin used to work for, which is now MTI Ltd in Dudley. Colin’s sisters, 90-year-old sister Eileen and 76-year-old Valerie, also attended with Colin’s granddaughters Sarah, Emma and Jennifer.

ENDS

We have other pictures of Colin available, including pictures outside the Grand Theatre. For further information, please contact Vickie Warren in the Media Relations Office on 01902 322736.

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