Walking through memories

Dr Jane Moore (née Lock) was among the first cohort of undergraduate women admitted in 1984.  She returned to Pembroke for the 1984 Year Dinner in September 2014 and reminisced on her time here.

Why did you apply to Pembroke?

I attended a comprehensive school in Liverpool and one of my teachers was a Pembroke alumnus.  He was aware that the College had taken the decision to admit women and suggested that I consider applying.

I applied to read history and had to sit four three hour entrance exams.  These were then followed by three interviews with Colin Wilcockson, Mark Kaplanoff and Clive Trebilcock, respectively.  Looking back, it was probably was my performance in the exams which was the key to me getting in and I only narrowly missed out on getting an Exhibition.

Did you feel very aware that there had been a great change when you arrived?

We heard about this rather that saw it for ourselves.  The female students were placed on the middle floors of a staircase and we also heard about the long mirrors which it was insisted be installed.  In terms of disruption, there wasn’t anything I really noticed.

It’s interesting that walking around College now, everything is so much the same.  The subtle changes the College tends to make (Foundress Court excluded) means that you are always walking through memories.

What was the reaction of the other students to the arrival of female students?

On the whole, fine.  The male students in our year were fine.  For those that came from mixed-schools there was no change and for the others from single-sex schools had applied knowing that women were being admitted.   The older students had obviously actively chosen to attend an all-male College, so it was a bit more of a change for them.  I remember that at the society squashes, female students were very much encouraged to get involved and I personally never felt excluded.

You did get the impression that the bedders on the whole preferred looking after young men than the women!  I think they brought out the bedders’ maternal instincts, whereas we were a little more independent.

Did that affect who you were friends with?

Just as anywhere else, you’re friendly with some people and less so with others.  My closest friends were actually mathematicians and natural scientists.  The Cambridge experience was very intense and in my first couple of weeks I was pretty homesick and I changed subjects from History to Philosophy and then did English for Part II.  A few weeks into that first term I went to trough on a Saturday lunchtime and met Stuart (Moore, 1984), who was reading Maths.  We became a couple fairly quickly and we married in December 1987, making us the first Pembroke marriage.

So, how do you look back on your time at Pembroke?

With great fondness and both of us still feel members of the College.  Stuart and I are still together, thirty years on.  I taught English for a few years, while Stuart entered the Department of Health via the Fast Stream.  I went back to University once the children were a bit older and took an MA in Archaeology and then did a PhD at the University of Liverpool.  I am now Head of School of Teacher Education, Liverpool Hope University, while Stuart is Director of Strategy and Planning at Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust.

We married and had our three children before most people, so we perhaps felt a little out of step with our contemporaries at earlier reunions.  However, life is a great leveller and everyone seems much mellower now!