SOAS University of London

Andy Lickford

Andy's most memorable moment as a student was "Being involved in the opening ceremonies for the new library, which I guess is now the old library!! It was a fantastic facility and in those days the shelves were quite empty. I doubt they are now!"

What do you do for a living now?
I am now retired, but until I finished work in July 2004 I was a public affairs manager for UK rail freight company EWS. I joined the rail industry when it was British Rail in 1976 and spent a very happy 28 years in the industry, of which over 20 years was spent in public affairs.

What did you do in the year immediately after graduating?
Spent a horrendous year working in an insurance brokers in my home town, Hitchin. My dad worked there and got me the job but I hated every minute of it, mainly because of the folk with whom I was working. How he stuck it for so long I’ll never know and I admire him for his forbearance. If the people I worked with then were in work now, discrimination legislation would have seen them all with criminal records.

Where do you live now?
In Hitchin where I have lived all my life.

Where did you live when you were a student?
The first year I lived at home and commuted every day, but I was in a hall of residence for the final two years – Connaught Hall.

Did you enjoy your time at SOAS?
Loved it. Great bunch of students doing geography, both undergraduates and post-graduates. We were the core of the football team and we had some real fun playing for SOAS. I also got a job on the bar (when it was immediately on the left as you entered the building) and that was fun. Lots of stories about my time there!

Who was your favourite lecturer and why?
Prof. Phil Stott. He was our biogeography lecturer and I had never come across anyone so intense in their teaching, before or since. It was a subject about which I knew nothing before I started but thanks to him I had a fair idea of what it was all about when I finished. I wonder where he is now.

What were SOAS students campaigning for when you were a student?
Can’t remember but I always managed to bypass the demos as I had specialist status – I was needed to open up the bar!!

What was your most memorable moment as a student?
Being involved in the opening ceremonies for the new library, which I guess is now the old library!! It was a fantastic facility and in those days the shelves were quite empty. I doubt they are now!

Are you still friends with anybody you met at SOAS?
Yes, I still keep in regular touch with three of my contemporaries and I know, through them, where others are.

Describe SOAS in 3 words?
Unique, diverse, inspirational

Do you still believe in the same principles as you did when you were a student?
I think so. I was never an ‘activist’. I just wanted to do my studies and get a degree. I have to say I don’t think I got as much out of being there as I would have done if I had done something other than geography. I think we were a bit out on a limb in terms of what SOAS had to offer in its widest sense and, of course, there is no geography department there now. Indeed, for the first year we were housed in an office block over near the BT Telecom Tower so we only had the last two years to integrate and by that time links are already forged.

What is your lasting impression of SOAS?
An amazingly unified place, considering the diverse races, religions and cultures that were there. Pity the world at large today can’t get on in the way we all did back then.