University is a life-changing experience for all students, both through education and through the relationships which are forged and strengthened. In this article four alumni explain the role that City has played in their families.

Binnie and Paul Barnes

Lynda ‘Binnie’ Barnes (Psychology with Nursing Studies and Registered Nurse training at St Bartholomew’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, 1987) met her husband Paul (Mechanical Engineering, 1988) at City. They have four children, including daughter Maddie who has applied to study Computer Science with Games Technology at City from September. Binnie says:

“Back in the 1980s the ‘brand-name’ hospitals in London for training were ‘Tommy’s’, ‘Guy’s’ and ‘Bart’s’ [St Bartholomew’s was incorporated into City in 1995]. My course compacted three years nursing tuition with a degree over a total of four years and four months. I preferred that to the idea of a nursing degree, which were still very new then.

Most of our lectures were in the College Building. I remember getting lost over and over again on the spiral staircase, never quite working out the floor numbering. I also remember the magnificent swimming pool.

I found Shorinji Kempo, a martial art, in my second year at university. Paul started the year after, when a mutual friend suggested it was a good place to find me. We’d train in Kempo on Wednesday afternoons for two hours then head to Saddlers Bar for the next four. We both went on to get our black belts and then teach Shorinji Kempo. Paul ran the club at City for 10 years after he graduated and we even won City’s ‘Sports Club of the Year’. We both still practice Shorinji Kempo and Maddie is now a blue belt.

I have had a varied career, including setting up a consultancy business with Paul, Beaumont Barnes Ltd, working on NHS re-structures and the closure of the Audit Commission. I am now about to start a new job as a cardiac rehabilitation research nurse and Paul will be going to Doha for five months on a new health project.

I would recommend City to anyone who wants a London life and an outward-facing university that can help you achieve a global career. As parents now, Paul and I are aware that the best job opportunities may exist abroad and it is therefore very important to us that our children have relevant skills. We insist they study a language to at least ‘AS’ Level. When you get to university, you then have to be proactive in networking. The trick is to join clubs and societies that will bring you in touch with a range of other people.

I think the main difference between my experience of applying to University and Maddie’s is that there is so much information to sift through now. We as parents can help Maddie look through it and weigh up the pros and cons, whereas Paul and I didn’t get any help from our parents; we were the first generation to go to university.

I still keep in touch with most of the other nurses on my course – we were a close-knit group. The Alumni Office helped me to organise a reunion a few years ago. Of the twelve nurses on my course, five of us met our future husbands at City.”

Bronwyn and Roesheen Cosgrave

Bronwyn Cosgrave (International Journalism, 1993) recommended City to her sister Roesheen Cosgrave (Finance MBA, 1996). Bronwyn is now working as an author, curator, consultant and journalist in the US. Roesheen is Director of Investment Banking at UBS. Bronwyn says:

“Roesheen and I grew up in Toronto but I felt it was vital to attend a journalism school outside Canada to gain an international perspective. This is why I chose City: it is based in London, the centre of the world. My classes were great. I was on a one-year course and so it was all very direct and ‘get on with it’; just what journalism is about.

When I first moved to London I shared a flat in Hampstead with another journalist. I then moved to London House, a residence for Commonwealth graduate students, where my sister also lived when she was studying at Cass Business School.

I was very lucky and got a full-time job while still at City but was then made redundant. I started freelancing and that was the making of me. I’m an active mentor today, especially to young women as I know how difficult it is to get started. Last year, the Alumni Office connected Roesheen and me with a student who was looking for some professional advice. She has since gone on to complete the MA Magazine Journalism course at City. 

At the moment, a production design exhibition I co-curated, Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style, is touring the world and has just opened in Madrid. It will open in Paris in the autumn. I am also a contributing editor to Vogue India and the UK edition of Town & Country. I owe my diverse career to City. I have applied the skills I learnt from my course, which was so rigorous and methodical, to many different projects over the years.”

Jenny and Colin Chilton

Jenny Chilton (Optometry, 1976) met her husband Colin (Ophthalmic Optics, 1974) at City, as did her mother Brenda Hiorns (Optometry, 1953) and father Tom Bond (also Optometry, 1953). Jenny says:

“My parents met at what was then the Northampton Institute. I applied to City not only because they had studied there but also because it was considered to be the best university for optics and I wanted to live in London for a few years.

I have lots of fond memories of City. Colin and I both lived in Northampton Hall for the three years of the course, but as Colin was two years ahead of me, we only lived there together for one year. However, as he remained in London after leaving City, he was around so often that many people assumed he was still a student. He even got an invitation to one of the ‘formal dinners’, which were held monthly by the tutors. I also remember several parties in what was known as the ‘BCR’ (Balcony Common Room) at Northampton Hall.

We still keep in touch with our friends from City. There is a group of about seven of us who have met for a weekend every year for over 30 years. We have been all over the UK for our weekends and also to Paris, Berlin and Barcelona. Our children are in their twenties and thirties now so they don’t come with us anymore, but they do have their own get-togethers.

My mother sadly passed away in 1995 but my dad still meets up with his friends. They call themselves “the first of the thirds”, in reference to the fact they were the first year when Optics became a three-year course.”

Len and Tom Tyler

Len Tyler (Business Systems Analysis and Design, 1987) is proud that his son Tom (Professional Legal Skills, 2010) followed his footsteps into City. Len says:

“In 1986 my then employer, the British Council, was looking for staff to train in IT. I was in Africa at the time working on aid projects, but I took and passed an aptitude test and was given a year off to do an MSc. The British Council had already researched courses and told me to apply to City. I never questioned their wisdom at the time or subsequently.

I was fortunate that City happened to be my local university. I could walk in every morning, which was great but also meant I never had a decent excuse for being late for a lecture.

After City I went back to the British Council as planned and ran its small systems department for some time before becoming Director of Office Systems and Telecommunications. This was considered, for some reason, excellent experience to qualify me for the post of Cultural Attaché in Copenhagen, which is what I did next. Later I left the British Council and became Chief Executive of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. After that I wrote crime novels and am now Chair of the Crime Writers Association. I can’t complain that I haven’t had a varied career.

I wasn’t surprised when Tom chose City for his law course – he’d followed me to Oxford University for his BA so in a way it seemed entirely logical that he should also do his postgraduate where I had. For Tom, everything about the course was right – its reputation and position – and of course he could walk to the University just as I had. Tom is now working as a lawyer in the employment team for health sector specialists Capsticks. I guess you could say that City worked out quite well for both of us.”