Brian Bunday met Joan Urry in 1950. Both pupils of Eastleigh County High School – now known as Barton Peveril Sixth Form College – the pair studied their O Levels and A Levels together before beginning degrees at the University in 1954. Brian and Joan were fortunate enough to receive scholarships to study BSc Mathematics and BA French, respectively, up to a value of £212, a sum that covered all fees.
Brian’s father was a watchmaker and Joan’s a blacksmith. At the time, only one per cent of children of manual workers made it to university – and this became evident to the couple upon arrival, finding that most students had been able to spend three years in sixth form versus their two. Brian says:
Our parents were very bright people, but had no education having left school aged 14. However, they did have the vision to understand that their children’s future was to be found in education, and that the reforms of the 1940s provided the means to make it happen.
The number of students in the 1950s was considerably smaller than nowadays, with just two dozen commencing the Bundays’ courses.
Placed in the halls of residence at South Stoneham House, Brian found it to be “a small but very friendly, welcoming place”. He enjoyed playing sports throughout his life, and made the University cricket first team, with Joan acting as the official scorer. Brian was also the first chairman of the Southampton University Mathematical Society (SUMS) when it was founded in the late 1950s.
As part of her course, Joan was required to spend time abroad – a feature of modern language degrees that the University pioneered. Initially, she studied at the Sorbonne in Paris for one term, and spent a further three months working as an au pair in the country.
Back in the 1950s, Eastleigh was “a hive of industrial activity”, and finding temporary holiday work was not a problem: Brian at Pirelli’s cable factory, and Joan at Price’s cake factory. The jobs helped the couple fund their wedding – an occasion that took place during an eventful 1957.
After graduating – Brian with first-class honours, and Joan with upper second-class honours – the Bundays married in the September, honeymooning on the Isle of Wight. A month later, they both began their second courses at the University – a PhD in Mathematics for Brian, and Diploma in Education for Joan – becoming the first and only married students on campus.
Scroll through the gallery below to see photographs spanning the Bundays’ lifetime:
After completing their studies in the early 1960s, the pair remained in education for the rest of their working lives. Brian was offered a job as a lecturer at what is now Liverpool John Moores University, moving to the University of Bradford several years later. He was promoted to Senior Lecturer, and eventually retired as Head of Mathematics in 1996. His remarkable career also included writing 10 books, around 200 research papers, and giving conference presentations across the globe.
Meanwhile, Joan was a teacher of French, Latin, and English at comprehensive and grammar schools across Eastleigh, Liverpool, and Bradford, unfortunately having to retire early due to multiple sclerosis. While this means she can no longer play the piano – a great talent of hers – she and Brian still enjoy regular trips to the opera and orchestral concerts. Brian’s love of sport has continued, and although cricket and football are somewhat out of the question at age 82, he remains competitive at table tennis.
The Bundays still maintain a strong connection with the University and city, attending a number of reunions, and organising a golden anniversary dinner in 2004 to celebrate five decades since their arrival at University – for this, they managed to contact all but one of their fellow students!
Last year, the couple celebrated 60 years of marriage with a diamond wedding anniversary lunch. A total of exactly 60 guests attended the event, including former colleagues and friends. Following this, the two spent time away with their children, grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
Reflecting on his and his wife’s education, Brian remarks:
We are forever grateful to our parents and teachers at school and University. In particular, our time at the University of Southampton changed our lives for the better forever.
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