Celebration of Volunteering glass awards standing on a table

Bridging University And Locality

We are thrilled to share that Reading graduate Peter Must, whose volunteering spans 50 years, has been awarded Alumni and Supporter Volunteer of the Year at the recent Celebration of Volunteering event.

The Celebration of Volunteering brings together colleagues, students, alumni and community partners to award, showcase and celebrate those who have gone above and beyond to volunteer on campus or in their local community.

Peter’s volunteering journey includes the past incarnation of the University of Reading alumni association and magazine; The Friends of the University of Reading; and volunteering in his local community.

Family ties

Peter studied Philosophy and English Literature at Reading, graduating in 1965, but his connection to the University goes back over 100 years. He explained:

“My mother was a student, alongside her sister – my aunt – at the University College Reading back in 1923-25, both reading domestic science. They were amongst the last college students before it became a university in 1926.

“I also met my future wife, Sheila, at Reading when we were both members of St David’s Hall on the London Road campus. We’ve now been married for 57 happy years.”

Peter with Nellie Eales on her 100th birthday
Peter with Nellie Eales on her 100th birthday

Shortly after graduating from Reading, Peter returned as a member of staff – and here he stayed for 32 years until his retirement.

He said: “After spending a few years working for the Greater London Council, I then worked for the College of Estate Management to facilitate the creation of a new Faculty of Urban and Regional Studies at the University. Once that opened in 1972 I became the first Sub-Dean and began my career with Reading. My subsequent roles at the University were Examinations Officer and then Sub-Dean of the Faculty of Letters and Social Sciences, which was largely housed in what is now the Edith Morley building.

“I enjoyed being at the University for such a long time because I got to do a huge variety of work.

“Having gained my education and spent much of my employment at Reading, I’ve always been very grateful to the University. My family ties have only made me feel even more affectionate towards Reading.”

Furthering the work of the University

Peter’s volunteering journey began when he returned to Reading as a member of staff. He took over as Secretary of the Old Students’ Association (OSA) in the 1970s and helped to produce the OSA magazine, which then became Reading Reading, and is now known as CONNECTED – the online alumni magazine you are reading right now.

Peter sat with colleagues in an editorial meeting for the Reading Reading magazine
An editorial meeting of the Reading Reading magazine

Peter said: “As the Secretary I ran annual meetings, organised talks and dinners, and produced the magazine. In those days this was a physical magazine, which we printed and stapled together. I remember fondly how no-one knew which way to pronounce Reading Reading, but we thought it was such a clever name!

“I’m proud to still be involved in the alumni magazine today, in my role distributing it to The Friends.”

Peter became a Committee member of The Friends of the University of Reading in 1984 and was instrumental in arranging for The Friends to become a registered charity in 2017, when he became its Secretary.

Peter said: “The Friends were established back in 1927, the year after the founding of the University of Reading, by the then Vice-Chancellor as he felt the town itself should be a supporter of the University and vice versa.

“The Friends exists to be a bridge between the University and the local community and being a University for Reading is now cemented as one of the University’s principles.

“The Friends provides grants to further the work of the University – what we do is modest, but it does make a difference. Our members pay a subscription membership fee, and University students or staff can apply to us for grants. We’re really pleased that about half of this year’s grant requests came from student societies. They’re all really impressive and we’re thrilled to be helping students to pursue their interests.”

One of The Friends’ earliest grants was the ceremonial furniture seen in the Great Hall at London Road during graduation ceremonies and over the years they have also supported purchasing materials for an Art/Archaeology outreach project, The Friends’ Bridge over Whiteknights Lake, wildflower meadow planting, and support of community events such as the upcoming Community Festival.

The Friends’ members also enjoy several events a year, including visits to campus to see how grant money has been spent. Membership of The Friends is open to anyone with an interest in supporting the University. Find out more about joining The Friends.

Preserving history

Peter’s other string to his volunteering bow is being Chairman of the Wokingham Society, which he began in 2009. In recognition of his commitment, Peter was given a Civic Award by the Town Council in 2017. Peter said:

“This is a Civic Society established in the 1960s to encourage the conservation of the character and traditions of Wokingham as a historic market town, as well as promoting study of our history and interest in our heritage.

“As Chairman I have researched the history of the buildings and notable inhabitants of the town and I give talks throughout the year on my findings. At the Library’s request I have also provided guided tours of the town centre, including the several Blue Plaques installed by the Society throughout the town.

“We also produce materials such as The Wokingham Society newsletter and a walking tour leaflet.”

Inspiring the next generation of volunteers

Peter receiving his Celebration of Volunteering award from Chancellor Paul Lindley
Peter receiving his Celebration of Volunteering award

Peter expressed his delight and surprise at winning the Alumni and Supporter Volunteer of the Year award and said to anyone considering volunteering – “I’d always say do it!”.

He said: “Volunteering has become my life and I’m pleased to have the time to dedicate to these organisations. I enjoy that I’m able to give back to my local community through the Wokingham Society, and to give back to the University through The Friends.

“You don’t have to give a lot of time to volunteering – any time you can give will be gratefully received. Hopefully you will feel a benefit and enjoyment from volunteering, as well as providing a benefit to those you help.

“I was astounded when I was nominated for the Celebration of Volunteering award, not least when I discovered I’d won it. I’m very grateful but totally surprised. I hope I can inspire the next generation of volunteers with my story. I really am chuffed.”

Discover our other Alumni and Supporter Volunteer of the Year award winner, Laura Windisch, who spends her time making sure children in the greater Reading area have toys at Christmas.

If you are interested in volunteering, email us now at, or if you already do volunteer you can share your story with us.