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Celebrating our long-serving colleagues

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December saw 55 of our colleagues and their guests celebrating their long service at an awards dinner at Durham Castle. They were welcomed at a drinks reception in the Undercroft bar accompanied by a performance from the Cathedral Scholars Choir.

Our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Karen O’Brien, opened the evening with her welcome speech, followed by a three-course banquet dinner.

A few of our colleagues who received their Long-Service Award have spoken to Dialogue and told us about their journey.

Louise Hughes is a Marketing Officer within the Corporate Marketing team who started at the University in October 1995 as a Secretary in the then Personnel Department. She started work in the attic of what is now Hotel Indigo.

She first worked in the recruitment team and then moved to the training team as administrator for the new Modern Apprenticeship Programme.

In 2001, Louise became PA to the Director of Development and Alumni Relations, where she stayed for a few years, overseeing a series of huge changes to the department including the first merger with Marketing and Communications. The department then split, and she moved to the Communications team, and finally Corporate Marketing within the new Advancement team.  

Louise told us:

I've experienced a huge amount of change over the years, both good and challenging, but one thing has remained constant: the support and friendship of the people I work with, for which I am eternally grateful.

Vice-Chancellor Karen O'Brien with Professor Gordon Love
Vice-Chancellor Karen O'Brien with Professor Gordon Love

Professor Gordon Love is a professor of Computer Science and Physics who was a student at Durham. He first arrived at Van Mildert in 1985 and has been working at Durham since 1997. He is also associated with three of our colleges.

Gordon said: ‘’I tried to escape twice – having had post-doc positions in the USA and India which were fantastic experiences - but I have also loved really getting to know a large and complex institution like Durham in detail. If you count all my time in Durham, it’s 34 years. Crikey!''

He continued "The awards dinner was a fantastic celebration. I came along not really knowing who else to expect to see – but of course I knew about half the people there and it was great to catch up with them and meet new colleagues as well. I am wondering now whether I can last out to my next dinner at 40 years!"

Vice-Chancellor Professor Karen O'Brien with Dr Andrew Millard
Vice-Chancellor Professor Karen O'Brien with Dr Andrew Millard

Dr Andrew Millard started at the University in April 1995 as a lecturer in Archaeology. In those days, the University and department were much smaller than today. Andrew was the 16th academic member of staff in Archaeology, but they now have more than twice that number. Over the years, he progressed to senior lecturer in Archaeology and then Associate Professor, but he has also been involved in various other roles across the University.

Andrew said:

I've been elected to Senate, worked in Combined Honours and the Institute for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, and I spent 12 years involved with university programme approval processes and quality assurance. I’ve enjoyed working with colleagues in every department and college during my time here.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Karen O'Brien with Anne Sayers
Vice-Chancellor Professor Karen O'Brien with Anne Sayers

Anne Sayers is Assistant Divisional Manager in the PVC Colleges and Student Experience Office.

Anne started at the University in 1980 as a 16-year-old fresh from school. She started in the then University Printing Unit, Old Shire Hall, as a machine operator. The Print Unit cut back, and she was redeployed to the Courses and Quality Section, under Kate Deeming.

Anne told us: ‘’Gosh, I think those changes happened in 1993 when I became an administrator. Having never done that before, the University sent me off to secretarial school in Newcastle to learn how to touch type on a manual typewriter!  But thank heavens for computers! At first it was hard with the move, as it was all so unfamiliar to me. And I made some very funny mistakes! But once I had settled in, I felt that although not of my choosing, it was the best thing that could have happened to me.’’

In the late 1990s Anne got the job of Validation Secretary, administering the courses run by other institutions which we validated. Then in 2001, she got her job in the Dean of Colleges Office (now PVC Colleges), which she has loved, working with five PVCs so far. She gained the confidence to start her learning journey in this role, first with Institute of Leadership and Management courses and then Level 5 and Level 6 CMI Business Management.

Anne said: ‘’I can’t tell you how proud I am of my 2:1, especially being a first generation scholar, and the University enabled and supported me. They have also supported me through my cancer journey and that is priceless. I have made so many good long-lasting relationships throughout the years and across the University and beyond.’’

In answer to our question about the awards dinner at the Castle, Anne responded:

The awards night was so very, very special. I saw people I hadn’t seen for a long time, and it was so lovely to catch up. It was special for everyone there to be recognised for their hard work and loyalty to the University, a chance to let our hair down and have some fun and feel special in a beautiful setting. I have always been proud to say I work for Durham University.



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