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Coming together after 40 years to support the next generation

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Coming together after 40 years to support the next generation

Friday 06 November 2020

Thanks to the amazing efforts of the Sheffield City Polytechnic ULE Class of 1979 (now Sheffield Hallam University), this new transformational scholarship is being created in the Department for the Natural and Built Environment.

As a result, one new student in the department will receive £3,000 per year for the duration of their studies. The award will fill the gap left by student finance for a student who may have little to no access to financial support from home, or who is from an under-represented background in higher education.

Their efforts came at the ideal time too, with Covid-19 seriously impacting the lives of many of our students.

After a 40-year anniversary reunion in 2019, Ian Middleton – now retired after 40 years in the property industry – wrote to his former classmates with the idea, and in March 2020 the fundraising got underway. By September, they had reached their £9,000 target.

Ian hopes that by giving something back, the Class of 1979 can seal its legacy. He hopes the donation will help improve the life of a young person, serve as an example for later classes to follow, improve diversity in the property sector and help him and his classmates stay even better connected with each other in the coming years.

Ian says: 'A friend of mine organised a class reunion last year (2019) to celebrate 40 years since graduation. Our last reunion had been 10 years earlier and the different thing this time was that, being retired or about to retire, everyone was a bit more reflective.

'But as much as we were reminiscing about the past, we were looking forward to the future too, asking questions like what’s next and how can we make our mark? We also thought that if our class year could achieve something like this, then it could serve as an example to other years about what can be achieved.

'Our education didn’t cost anything. We had no fees, so it was really cheap in comparison. That’s why we thought it would be good to do something to help current students who face a very different situation.

'The whole thing has also reinforced the bond between all of the people in our year. For example, I found out that one of my former classmates now lives in South Carolina in the USA. I didn’t know he lived there before, but now if I’m travelling there, I’ll certainly go to visit him.

'We had a really enjoyable time at university, the reunions were good fun, and I hope that these fundraising efforts continue to strengthen our connections further and increase the links between people who were close friends while studying.’

For the next three years their donation will be making a life-changing difference for a student. It will be helping to take away some of their financial pressures so they can focus on achieving their potential, not how they’ll pay the rent.

Sheffield Hallam University has a long history of creating opportunities for all, and efforts such as this help the University to continue its legacy of opportunity.

If the ULE Class of 1979’s efforts have inspired you to give something back to the next generation of students, whether it’s through fundraising, donating, volunteering or any other way, please contact the Development and Alumni Relations Office

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