13 December 2013 15:12

A grandfather who served in World War Two has graduated from Lancaster University a month after his 90th birthday.

Retired teacher Eric Wooff celebrated his Phd in Education 74 years after he left school.

“In my school days, university was not an option for me, and so graduating is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. University brings out the best in you and raised my sights.

The whole atmosphere was very encouraging and stimulating. I loved meeting other students and staff who were immensely helpful. I enjoy being and working with young people so I got on well with other students.”

The son of a London docker, Eric won a scholarship to grammar school, but was evacuated to Somerset when war broke out. He had to leave school at the age of 16 and get a job, despite being awarded matriculation qualifying him for a place at London University after A levels.

“My father thought I should be working and contributing to the family budget so I could not stay to do A levels. I returned to London just before the Blitz, and got an office job in the West End. We had to move when our home was severely damaged.”

After serving in the RAF during the war, Eric returned to his job, moved North in 1952, and found himself, at the age of 39, with a secure well paid job, and with a wife and four children.

“I took stock, and asked myself if that was really how I wanted to spend my life. My lovely wife was totally supportive.”

So he secured a place at College, and trained to become a Maths teacher, working at Appleby Grammar School in Cumbria, where he was also involved in many extra-curricular activities and in Further Education for over 20 years.

“I loved teaching and it gave me immense personal satisfaction.”

Through Further Education at the Appleby Heritage Centre, Eric began studying in his spare time, gaining an MA from the University of East Anglia in 2003.

In 2008, he began studies at the University of Cumbria, where staff encouraged him to study for a PhD at the University of Lancaster.

Eric hopes to submit articles to professional journals on his favourite topic, education.

Of his four children, Louise is a retired teacher, Chris worked at the University of Liverpool, and is now retired, Clare is an HR Director, and Francis works at the University of Salford.

His wife Joan died in 1990.

“I am very fortunate. I have been blessed with good health and support by so many people throughout my life.  I hope I can encourage others.”