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Following in Grandpa’s footsteps

Clare Third and John Ramsden
Clare Third and John Ramsden

Clare Third, from Ruddington near Nottingham, is not the first member of her family to have lived in York. In 1945, her grandfather John Ramsden was stationed in Heslington Hall, now part of the University, as part of post-World War II RAF planning.

Working as part of the reserve command after the war, John recently visited York and was proud to see his granddaughter graduate with a BA in History (2:1) on 16 July.

Clare (22) says: “My Grandpa has often spoken about his time at Heslington Hall, and is often nostalgic about his time here. It meant a lot to him to go and visit the hall recently, and to spend some time around York together. I have often been proud to study here, knowing that it holds such strong sentimental connections for my Grandpa. Whenever I have passed Heslington Hall I've thought of him as a young man there, and felt glad that I had an opportunity to be young here as well. My Grandpa is passionate about history, and I have been able to take everything I've learnt and discuss it with him by the fire at his home in Derbyshire.”

John, 87, adds: “It is a very happy occasion. I’m very proud to see Clare come through the University, because it brought back memories about what Heslington and the village around it was like before the University came.

“When the war ended in 1945 on VE day, the number 4 bomber group was disbanded, and I came in with a small number of RAF men to set up the Reserve Command. We were tasked with building up the peace structure of the RAF for long term servicemen in peacetime, and getting older men back into university whose education had been disrupted by the war. We consulted them and found out what universities/jobs we could get them into, and tried to get them back into civilian life. Heslington Hall at that time was group headquarters, and covered all the aerodromes in the North of England. After I was there, I was moved to Headquarters at White Waltham and became Deputy Command Education Officer.”

As for Clare’s experience at York, she describes it as “Incredible… York has been an amazing place to live, and I have felt privileged to spend three years here. I have made lifelong friends, and will really miss the community atmosphere. Studying History in such a historic place has made the subject come alive in many ways during my degree, and being a part of the Department of History has also been a huge highlight of my time here.

“Highlights have been: watching the sunrise on Clifford's Tower, being Events Manager for the International Development Society, all the time spent laughing and despairing in the library with other History students, spending the day with two friends eating our way from one end of the 'Taste Yorkshire' festival to the other (we ate at 25 stalls!), finally getting up the courage to play my guitar and sing at acoustic gigs in front of encouraging friends, working as a receptionist for the University gyms and taking up Squash, playing rounders in the summer, and dodging angry geese.”

Clare will now spend the summer travelling through the USA before returning to the UK in September to study for an MSc in Conflict, Violence and Development at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London. In the future she hopes to work in international development, specifically in disaster management and peacekeeping in conflict zones. Clare says: “Thank goodness there are good train connections from London back to York!”