Open Eye: Your Letters: Memories are made of this

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The Independent Online
Thank you for Open Eye. I enjoyed reading your anniversary issue, reminding me, as it did, of the great debt I owe to the Open University.

Born in a working-class area of London and leaving school at 14, there seemed little hope for me educationally.

For the next six years I worked in factory dead-end jobs. Called up in 1940 and working on searchlights in remote parts of England, I had time to read, and that is how my education really began.

In 1972 I applied for a BA degree course with the OU and was accepted. In 1977 I graduated with an honours degree.

Since then I have gained an MA at Greenwich and have completed a three- year full-time degree course at King's College, London.

It was, however, the OU that first gave me a chance and for that I shall be eternally grateful.

I now realise that anyone, if sufficiently motivated, can achieve academic success.

In 1933 when I left my central school, I came 32nd in a class of 36 pupils.

I hope now, on the eve of my 80th birthday, to go on and get a PhD.

With all good wishes - and thanks again.

Sidney Fagan, London SE3

We had several messages from early OU graduates - most of them recalling that there was a shortage of tea available following the ceremonies! - Ed

Early daysW

What a delightful photograph of Betty Boothroyd on the front cover of Open Eye!

The history of the OU contained in the magazine was very informative.

The OU gave to many of the older generation, who had lacked the opportunity of further education, the chance to enjoy exercising their brains in the study of a degree, and to those still in employment the possibility of gaining additional qualifications.

I was one of those who joined the OU in the early days. I took up a course on retiring from business life, and am extremely grateful for the chance it afforded to broaden my educational horizon.

It is a good many years since I achieved my degree and, as the age of 85 approaches, I feel that the years of study are over, though I still remain enthusiastic about the OU and wish it continuing success in the future.

G Marshall , Sunderland

Letter from Wilson

I enjoyed the anniversary issue of Open Eye - especially the article on Harold Wilson and the foundation of the OU. After reading Ben Pimlott's biography I wrote to Lord Wilson saying that I hadn't realised what a debt I (and all the other OU graduates) owed him.

I received a delightful note by return and thought a copy might interest you.

Michael Freer, Norwich

Lord Wilson wrote to Mr Freer:

Thank you for your letter. Many congratulations on your degree. I can well understand how you feel.

You are quite right that I was responsible for the setting up of The Open University and it is the one achievement of which I am most proud. It has brought unique opportunity, pleasure and pride to so many.Thank you for taking the trouble to write to me.