I came to Essex in 1979 at a time when the University had the highest ratio of men to women – seven to one! I was the only one in my cohort who didn’t come through Clearing and the only one from a large northern comprehensive school.

I lived in Keynes Towers but would get so lost in those first few days that the only way I’d find my way back after a lecture would be to walk over the grass until I found something I recognised! Lager was 50p a bottle at the time and we all belonged to The Film Club. On Friday nights we would see the 9pm showing, go to the bar until 11pm and then on to a disco.

Jayne's library card and examination card from the 1980s

I graduated from Essex in 1982 and four of my friends marked the occasion by getting matching tattoos to commemorate our final days there. We all kept in touch initially but life tends to take over and our contact dwindled for a while until our first reunion was in 2006 – we all came back to Essex and went to Top Bar and reminisced about our time here. Our second reunion was in 2016 and again we returned to campus. We braved the infamous paternoster and had a great evening down in Wivenhoe.

In 2002, out of the blue, I received a letter from one of the security guards who had worked at the University whom I’d got to know over the years there. In my day you had to go to the Security Office to collect mail or access the key for the Pottery Studio. We’d become friends at Essex – he was my father away from home. I hadn’t heard from him for around twenty years but he’d saved my address. He was almost one hundred years old and I went to visit him.

I now live in Vancouver, Canada and am a published author. When the pandemic hit, one of us set up a WhatsApp group to keep in touch – the “Essex Wrinklies” we fondly call ourselves! We return to Essex for the memories and will be hosting our third reunion in November.

Archive photo of Jayne playing pool on campus

If you’ve been inspired by Jayne’s story to reconnect with friends from your time at Essex, please get in touch. We offer a Friend Finder service where we can reach out to those you may not have current contact details for and try to reconnect you.

We can also support with planning a reunion whether it’s in-person or virtual. All you need to do is choose the date and venue and we’ll send invitations and manage the guest list for you. It’s a great way to meet fellow graduates living local to you!

Read our Reunion Guide for more information on planning a reunion and how we can help.