We continue our We Met at John’s series with Richard and Anne Child, an alumni couple who attended John’s from 1974 to 1977!
Coming into their first year of university, most students have goals they set out to achieve. Some are academic, others athletic, even career-oriented. In the autumn of 1974, however, Richard arrived in Durham with one goal in mind: he wanted to find a wife.
On October 5, 1974, Richard met Anne — and the rest is history.
Exactly 48 years ago today, St. John’s hosted a welcome tea for new students and their parents in Haughton Dining Hall. It was here that Richard, a Sociology and Social Administration student, and Anne, who studied Church History, Biblical Studies and American History, met for the first time.
Over the next few weeks, the two grew closer, eventually becoming part of the same group of friends. Living in college meant Richard and Anne were able to get to know each other before actually going out. They saw each other at meals, had coffee in their friends’ rooms afterward, and went to church together.
Anne and Richard both lived in 28 North Bailey, though Anne in particular wasn’t too keen on their fellow residents: the rats who inhabited the wall cavities (and their “higher profile” neighbors in Cruddas).
Rats notwithstanding, they look back at their time at John’s fondly: Bailey Ball, the hilarity of the Christmas concerts, the food, the slightly better catering at formals (enough that they were a highlight of the week). Saving up for a steak dinner at Dunelm House, evenings spent trying to make a half of lager and lime last the whole night at the Union Society Bar (pre-college bar; “this was the seventies after all!”), and a football match against Houghall in the snow (where they were once again thrashed).
If not for John’s, the two maintain, it’s highly unlikely they would have met in the first place.
Anne recalls fancying Richard early on in Michaelmas, “but he didn’t seem to want to take things further” — and she ended up going out with someone else that first term. Despite this, they continued to see each other in group settings. Anne found that she really missed Richard over the Christmas holidays, so much so that she began writing to him.
By the time they returned from the Easter vacation, it was clear that Anne was going to have to take the initiative. On May 9, 1975, as they trudged up Bow Lane after a party, she made her move. “I risked taking his hand…and that was that!”. Richard added, “And she won’t let go!”
Richard proposed to Anne in their final year at Durham. Two years later, in 1979, they got married. They moved several times in the ’80s, but eventually settled by the sea in East Norfolk, where they’ve lived for the last 36 years.
In that time, their family has grown; they share six children and eight grandchildren (and counting!) spread across the UK, South Africa, and the United States. Both Richard and Anne are now retired — Anne in 2019, and Richard as of 2022 — and they’re making the most of their newfound freedom to visit their family.