Radio amateur Bert Gladwin G3FVO, a former MI6 electronics engineer, has become the UK’s oldest new graduate at the age of 90, after graduating with a Masters degree from the University of Buckingham.
Bert G3FVO left school at 14 and worked as a delivery boy. During World War II he served with the Royal Air Force and developed an interest in radio communications. After the war he worked for Marconi and obtained his amateur radio licence. He then worked for the Foreign Office setting up communications systems for British embassies around the world.
He embarked on his degree in Intelligence History and Bletchley Park Studies at the age of 89 together with his wife, who was then aged 77.
“I feel very satisfied to think that I’ve done an MA at my age,” he says. “When you’re 90, you sit around and not a lot happens, so it’s important to carry on learning and to broaden your horizons.”
“I feel very good about it, but really I think I’m just lucky.”
Mr Gladwin has been clocking up degrees for years. At the age of 60, he decided to undertake a BA in Psychology. By the time he was 70 he had also completed a BSc in Molecular Biology. “They’re fascinating subjects,” he says. “I did them just because I was interested in them and wanted to know more about them.”
It was his wife, Wendy, who encouraged him to take the Masters. “She said it was a good way to round off my academic career, and would give me a good sense of accomplishment,” he says. “Plus I had worked at the Government Communications Centre for 20 years, so I had the relevant experience.” Mr Gladwin wrote his dissertation on the use of radio to the underground movements in World War Two France and he was awarded a distinction for it.
Professor Anthony Glees, head of the MA degree, said that every student brought something original and special about themselves into class. “Bertie Gladwin came to us with shedloads of both,” he said.
“He relishes political debate and certainly knew how to stir up a storm in seminars.” This year almost half of Professor Glees’s postgraduate students were awarded distinctions.
Mr Gladwin’s advice to anyone considering a degree is to go for it at any age. “It’s never too late to learn,” he says.
The University of Buckingham Press Release