Alumni Memories: Peter Rogan’s academic experiences and formation of life-long friendships

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Peter Rogan graduating

Studying at University can offer many career enhancing prospects and also rich life-changing opportunities. Alumnus Peter Rogan MBE (MSc 2007) shares his memories below of returning to education at the age of 62 and the global friendships and experiences this presented.

Before returning to education as a student Peter enjoyed a successful career as Headteacher of St. Michael’s RC Primary in Kirkby for 17 years before setting up his own publishing company, creating bespoke children’s patient information literature for the pharmaceutical industry.

“Being in retirement from the education service and with a teacher’s pension I didn’t need a degree for career ambitions but, nevertheless I was still ambitious to succeed at something and enjoy what that something was. My course at Liverpool satisfied those ambitions on both fronts.

I found it stimulating and it satisfied my needs at the time. Yes, it cost money but working on the theory that money is there to spend wisely rather than to look at, I feel that I spent wisely and well. I was lucky that I could afford it.

Why I chose to return to education at the age of 62

A: My tenure as Chairman of Liverpool (Children’s) Research Ethics Committee had come to an end. I knew the process for granting ethical approval for medical research inside out and upside down but was not fully cognisant of the theory that underpinned that process. University offered a post-grad course to meet that gap. I applied and was accepted.

B: I simply wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.

Despite the age difference between me and most of my fellow students I was accepted by the younger people. They quite often found me useful because I didn’t mind asking the questions that they didn’t feel confident of asking for fear of intimating that something might not been explained as well as it should have been.

We were in a small group, which was comprised of a mixture of genders, ages, faiths and cultures. I was I think the oldest but Rasheed, a retired renal physician, came a close second. The rest were relative youngsters compared to us. They were making their ways in life and hoping to enhance their career prospects by gaining the postgraduate qualification. One thing we all had in common was that we liked to laugh.

I was delighted to graduate but delight tempered by the fact that it was over. If I had it my way I would still be going each Wednesday!

Developing life-long friendships and global experiences

During my course I met and struck up a strong friendship with Carol who is from India and a trained social worker.

In early conversations, we found that we both shared the same strong Catholic faith. A joint belief that was going to hugely influence and enhance my post university life.

Carol fell in love. Her fiancé was not Christian but Carol wanted a churchwedding and asked for my help in arranging it, which I was happy to do and she was married to Awais in my parish church. Her Mum was there but Dad was unable to travel from India so I became the stand in Dad and led Carol up the aisle to be married.

After two years the first baby girl, Aliyah, arrived. Both myself and Colette my wife were privileged to be asked to be her Godparents.

Carol’s Mum came over for the baptism and invited us to visit her and her family in India. We accepted the invitation and had the most wonderful holiday. A chance in a lifetime arose simply because I met Carol at University.

We kept in touch and now have two more Goddaughters, Shania and Malaik.

If I gained nothing else from my course I gained lifelong friends in Carol and her extended family plus, of course, an unbelievable trip to India. It was a most wonderful experience.

Christening of Peter's third Goddaughter Maliak carefully watched by Aliya and Shania

A couple of years later in St George’s Church Maghull for the christening of our third Goddaughter Maliak carefully watched by Aliya and Shania

New friendships through shared passions (football)

Rita (Yusrita) joined the course in my second year. She was doing it in one year full time rather than my two years part-time. She was from Brunei and was a nurse by profession. Myself and Carol befriended her to welcome her into the group.

The first thing Rita wanted to do was to go to Anfield to see the “Mighty Reds”. I managed to get a couple of tickets for a home game against Everton and used a few contacts I had to get her behind the scenes. Whereas religion fostered my friendship with Carol it was the ‘Liverpool Religion’ of ‘Football’ that cemented my friendship with Rita.

We kept in touch by email when she returned home. A couple of years later she returned to the UK to study for a doctorate at the University of Edinburgh.

On completion of her studies in Scotland she returned home to write up her Thesis. With the facilities I had within my publishing company, I was delighted to receive her findings over the airways, to typeset, print and bind her thesis for submission. She was successful and Colette and I travelled to Edinburgh for her graduation and to meet her husband Dean.

We keep in touch. She came back to Liverpool a few years ago with Dean and we met up. This time is was not a visit to LFC she wanted. More than anything she wanted to tuck into a plate of fish and chips. We found a halal chippy on the Albert Dock and the four of us spent a good time together.

Rita has invited myself and Colette many times to visit her in Brunei and meet her daughter Hanna. Unfortunately, it has not been possible. We keep in touch by phone and email and enjoy our long distance friendship. I heard from her only yesterday with the news that there is to be a new addition to her family very shortly with a baby sister on the way for four year old Hanna.

Peter and Collete meeting up in Edinburgh to celebrate Rita’s Doctorate graduation

Meeting up in Edinburgh to celebrate Rita’s Doctorate graduation

Developing friendships from University connections

The next long-term friend I met first was on my graduation day albeit at the time neither of us had any idea of a future friendship.

It was Sian Winston who, as organiser of the University’s graduation events, I got to know when I became Clerk of University Convocation Standing Committee and became involved in Graduation Days as part of the platform gathering. She pulled all the strings for the occasions and I thought she went out of her way to make me feel at home.

It turned out that we had a mutual interest in the theatre and I found out she was a keen fan of humour and particularly of that provided by my best friend Sir Ken Dodd. Ken and Anne were attending a University lecture, arranged by Sian, at the Philharmonic, as were Sian’s Mum and Dad, myself and Colette. Sian’s parents were great Doddy fans and it was not by accident we all shared a box together and had a great night of chat and laughter. A true lasting friendship with Sian was born.

Sian gave me expert help in arranging Ken’s 90th Birthday Party, with 400 guests, including all the good and the great of the City. She readily agreed to volunteer and lent me all the expertise she had accrued at the University as Head of Events. It turned out to be ‘A Great Night for a Great Knight’.

Sian is a good friend that I would never had gained had I not enrolled on my University course.

Peter Rogan with Sian and Jim at Ken's 90th birthday party

Greeting Sian and her husband Jim at Ken’s 90th birthday party

On reflection

The whole experience for me was more about learning in an enjoyable environment, having fun, meeting and above all making new friends, than gaining a few letters after my name of which, of course, I am very proud. The MSc was an added bonus to my experience.

I would love to hear how the rest of our group with whom I have lost contact are all getting on. I am sure that they all have good tales to tell.”

If you studied with Peter and would like to get in touch with him, or if you would like to share your university story, you can contact the Alumni Engagement Team on