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We Met at King's - Ann and Keith

On 19 June 1980, Ann Pearce AKC (née Heaton) (Theology and Religious Studies, 1982) wasn't keen to leave her student digs in Camberwell to attend a 21st birthday party, but the promise of a free lift from the King's College Chaplain changed her mind. She's glad it did, as it was that night she met Keith Pearce (Physics, 1982; PhD Physics, 1986), the man that has been her husband for nearly 40 years. We spoke to Ann and Keith about life at King's in the early 1980s, and where their lives have taken them since.

Why did you choose to study at King’s?

Keith: I knew I wanted to go to a London university because it was the big, exciting city and not too far from my parents, so I put several London colleges on my UCCA form. I had interviews at a range of London colleges and liked the size and feel of the Physics department at King’s. They also set us to solve problems on PET computers (a very early forerunner of the PC) which was my first experience with a computer and very exciting.

Ann: I was encouraged to study Theology by the R.E. teacher at school. He had studied at King’s so that influenced me to apply there as one of my five universities. I went to interviews at all of them but as soon as I walked in the main entrance at King’s, I knew it was the place I wanted to study. Not only was the course the best, but the history of the place drew me in.

As soon as I walked in the main entrance at King’s, I knew it was the place I wanted to study. Not only was the course the best, but the history of the place drew me in.– Ann Pearce

How did you both meet at King’s

Ann: I lived at Plats (Camberwell). I, along with two others on my course, were invited to a 21st party at Vincent Square on 19 June 1980. I wasn’t that keen on going but there was a special meal that day at Plats and Rev Colin Slee, the King’s Chaplain, offered us a lift to the Square. Shortly after arriving, I was introduced to Keith by a mutual friend. We met up a couple more times before the end of the year and kept in touch by telephone (expensive) and post for the three months of the summer break. Once the second year commenced, we were together and have been so ever since.

What are your greatest memories of being together at King’s?

Keith: We had quite separate lives whilst on campus at King’s, doing very different degrees but usually met up in 'Theologs Corner' (the name we gave to an area of the Union Building) for lunch. In the evenings and on weekends we had those parts of London we could afford to explore.

What have you gone on to do since graduating?

Keith: I stayed on at King’s doing a PhD and then as a Research Assistant. When I finally left King’s, I went to teach at the Royal Naval College down the river at Greenwich. Then I joined the nuclear industry as a general-purpose scientist. I specialised in the modelling of the migration of radioactive materials in the environment and the public dose implications of discharges. Later I became the Head of Emergency Planning and Preparedness for 10 sites across the UK. For the last eight years I have been self employed and work as a consultant within the nuclear industry and for local authorities and businesses that are close to nuclear sites and must respond to the risks posed in a proportionate manner.

Ann: I really didn’t know what I wanted to do after my degree, but I was adamant that I didn’t want to teach. However, a meeting with a Careers’ Advisor at King’s led me on to exploring what was then Remedial, now Special Educational Needs, teaching. I moved back up north to take my PGSE in Ormskirk from 1982 to 1983, married Keith in August 1983 and moved back down to London to live and work. I worked at Riverside School, Thamesmead, Bexley until we moved to Gloucestershire in 1990 where I worked in various schools for the Local Authority with children who had Statements of Special Educational Needs. I then spent seven and a half years teaching in a school for students with Emotional and Behavioural difficulties before moving on in 2006 to work with students with additional learning needs at Cirencester Sixth Form College and have been there ever since, but I am due to retire on 31st August this year.

Theology really hasn’t got a lot to do with SEND teaching but when I started working part time after my eldest was born, I had the opportunity to train as a Methodist Local Preacher and was accredited in 1993. I now regularly lead worship in the Gloucestershire Circuit and am a tutor and co-ordinator for the training of Local Preachers in our Circuit.

We have three children. Our eldest studied mental health nursing at King’s from 2007 to 2011. It was great having a base to stay in London and to introduce her to some of the sights we’d experienced as students. We even managed to get tickets to the Advent Carol Service, so I was able to enjoy the wonderful event which I had first enjoyed 28 years previously.

Ann and Keith are stood side by side, smiling. They are stood in front of a tree.

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