Alumni gathered at reunion

Friends For Life

Back in 1969 at the University of Reading, three friends met and began their journey together. 54 years later – all still steadfast friends, with two of them married – they caught up with us at the London Alumni Drinks event on 21 June 2023. 

Stephen and Anne Harriman, and Branwen Austyn-Jones spoke to CONNECTED to share their story of love and friendship which blossomed at the University over 50 years ago.

Anne, who studied Food Science, and Branwen – an English and Linguistics student – met on their first day in 1969, when they were assigned a shared room in Mansfield Hall.

Stephen, Anne and Branwen at graduationBranwen said: “I never thought we’d get on as we seemed so different and were studying very different subjects. But we became best mates straightaway and have been ever since.

“We lived together for the whole of university, in halls and later in a rented house. I don’t miss those horsehair mattresses we used to sleep on in halls though!

“Then Stephen came along and tried to steal Anne away from me, “ Branwen joked.

Stephen, Anne and Branwen at the alumni reunion London 2023Stephen, who studied Agriculture and Economics, had known Anne in passing for the first two years he was at Reading. Then in 1971, he finally plucked up the courage to get to know her better. He recalled:

“As a member of the Union Social Committee, I sold tickets on the door for the University Friday disco.  They cost a couple of shillings in those days, but I gave Anne a free ticket one night. Later that night I asked her out and the rest is history.

“I’ve known Anne for 52 years now and we’ve now been married for 49 years. We’re very happy.”

Anne said:

“It’s wonderful to have met both my husband and my best friend at the University of Reading and to still be firm friends to this day. We all graduated together in 1972 and have been in each other’s lives ever since.”

Branwen added: “We loved attending the Alumni Drinks event, catching up together and meeting new people from Reading.”

Get involved

We loved catching up with Stephen, Anne and Branwen at the London Alumni Drinks. 

Reading Alumni Groups are your connection to fellow Reading alumni around the globe. These local groups bring together alumni in the same region who want to stay connected to the University and to meet fellow graduates through social events, networking sessions and more.

We are keen to expand our Alumni Groups, and are looking for volunteers to set up and run groups around the world. If you’d like to learn more about what’s involved, please register your interest to attend an information session, which will be held in early Autumn. If you have any questions, please contact Rachel Dean.

Share your memories

Did you meet your partner at Reading? Do you have a longstanding friendship from your days at university? Or just want to share memories of your time here? We’d love to hear from you. Please email to share your memories with us.