It might seem easier than ever to track down your old friends, but for all the people you can find online, your old flatmate might not be among them. The University’s Project Postcard comes to the rescue.

Each summer thousands of new graduates leave the McEwan Hall and say fond farewells to each other, vowing to stay in touch. Many will keep those promises, but over the years countless Edinburgh alumni have lost contact with those who were once among their closest friends.

In July 2014, the University sent 25,000 blank postcards to alumni, with an invitation to write a message to a long-lost friend and the promise that we would do our best to forward the postcards to those former classmates or flatmates. The results paint a colourful picture of undimmed, happy memories and loyal affections for fellow alumni, despite gaps in communication that in many cases span decades.

“It’s been a very exciting project to work on,” says Tessa Birley, Development Officer. “We have passed on lovely messages from people from all over the world.”

Examples of friends who have been put back in touch with each other through Project Postcard include Alan Rowland (BSc 1956), of Edinburgh, who wrote to Michael “Bill” Stone (BSc 1956), now living in Edmonton, Canada. The two veterinary medicine graduates are now planning a transatlantic reunion.

Mr Stone writes: “We have now been in email contact – Alan is hoping to visit a former colleague from the Vet School who lives in Saskatoon in the spring. If so, hopefully we will be able to get together.”

Udita Banerjee (MSc Electronics 2013), living in India, has resumed contact with both Yamin Zuo (MSc Electronics 2013), living in China, and Gillian “Gladys” Purves (BEd Physical Education 2012), living in Falkirk, Scotland.

Ms Banerjee says: “Both Yamin and Gladys got their postcards. I think it was a fabulous idea to do this – it really gave meaning to our relationships.”

Ronald Gardiner (MA 1956, BSc 1958, PhD 1962), Professor Emeritus at Queensland University of Technology, sought out his old friend Jim Blackie (BSc 1959, MSc 1962).

His postcard having reached its recipient, Professor Gardiner writes: “I was truly delighted to receive back an email from Jim Blackie – our first communication in over 50 years. His message included his phone number so I rang him immediately, and had a long and very enjoyable blether.”

The Royal (Dick) Veterinary College annual ball in the Assembly Rooms in February 1956. Circled are Alan Rowland (standing), and Bill Stone (seated).

The Royal (Dick) Veterinary College annual ball in the Assembly Rooms in February 1956. Circled are Alan Rowland (standing), and Bill Stone (seated).

Bill Stone (left) and Alan Rowland (right)

Bill Stone (left) and Alan Rowland (right)

Can you
Help?

Sadly we have not been able to trace all the intended recipients of the postcards returned to the University. Perhaps you know the whereabouts of one or more of the following alumni and could encourage them to contact us: Eleanor Cornwall (French 1968), Lucy Stringer (French 1993), Thomas Greenwood (Social Anthropology 1993), George Robertson (Medicine 1943 & 1957), Arial Meirav (Philosophy 1997), Helen Cameron (Spanish 1984).

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