University of Leicester eBulletin

New Lease of Life

July 2002
No 149

After a career in the armed forces followed by a series of jobs from delivering post to managing a carpet superstore, five years ago Alan Taylor’s arthritis became so disabling that he was – in his words – 'pensioned off'.

Instead of seeing this as an end of opportunities, he saw it as a chance to do something new, as a result of which he is graduating from the University of Leicester in July 2002 with the degree of BA (Hons) in Ancient History and Archaeology, having gained a II:I with a high First for his dissertation.

Alan said:  “I just thought, I can be a cabbage and watch television all day, or I can do something with my life. I had left school at 15 with no qualifications, but I always felt I wasn’t stupid. My wife had gone to university to develop her career and while she was doing that I thought I might go to college and get a couple of GCSEs.”

A chat with a persuasive tutor at Loughborough College resulted in Alan registering for an Access course, from which he emerged a year later with high enough grades to go to university. From the offers he received he chose Leicester because it seemed a very “compact and human environment”, and he felt it had more to offer him.

He found the Archaeology and Ancient History department friendly and the tutors highly motivated, student oriented and easy to talk to. He also acknowledges the support he received from the Student Welfare Centre and the AccessAbility Centre. 

“I suffer a lot of pain, for instance if I have to sit for a long time. AccessAbility helped with issues like dispensations for examinations, allowing me to take them in a space where I could get up and walk round to relieve the stressed muscles. The Welfare Centre persuaded me to apply for funds I didn’t know about or hadn’t liked to access.”

A degree is hard work, as Alan Taylor is the first to admit.   But he would also like to see more mature people embarking on higher education. “No one in our family ever had a degree.   If I could persuade a few more people to do something like this I’d be happy.   I never thought I would get a degree, but I did and I did well. It’s not as daunting as people think. Instead of staying at home feeling sorry for themselves they could give themselves something special in life.”

Discovering an interest in the Ancient Greeks, Alan switched from Archaeology to Ancient History and Archaeology and now has a place to read for a Masters degree at the University of Bristol. “I’m not stopping at a BA,” he said. “I want to do something with my degree, to make a contribution in my subject area and perhaps get something published.

NOTE TO EDITORS:  Further information is available from Alan Taylor, 01509 650530, email

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Last updated: July 2002
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