Stories

Tony Horsfall

Tony began his degree course in 1972. Having already started a career as a quality inspector for the Ministry of Defence (MOD), I was sponsored by the MOD to study at the university. Coming to university wasn’t something that I expected when I dropped out of school at 16 - having sat zero GCE’s, I was going to study for a degree at the age of 25.

Stories

Tony Horsfall being presented with an award by Ian McGeechan

Can you tell us a bit about when you were a student here?

I started my degree course in 1972. Having already started a career as a quality inspector for the Ministry of Defence (MOD), I was sponsored by the MOD to study at the university. Coming to university wasn’t something that I expected when I dropped out of school at 16 - having sat zero GCE’s, I was going to study for a degree at the age of 25.

What did you do after you graduated?

Having obtained my degree I was able to pass the Civil Service Commission Board, which allowed me to move from an industrial position as a quality inspector, to a management position as a quality engineer.

I’ve had many roles throughout my career, including the Quality Management Director of the New Zealand Dairy Board; the Quality Management Director of the Professional Services Group of London Underground; and the Director Safety, Quality and Environment of Harsco Corporation International. I also worked as a self-employed consultant, in South Africa, New Zealand and Saudi Arabia.

Did getting a degree help you with your career?

I attribute my career success to the skills, experience, and confidence I gained through the education I received here.

University provides a mindset and a roadmap to assist you in understanding a problem and working out a solution to that problem. Without the advanced education I received I know I would not have achieved both the success and pleasure that I derived in working for large organisations such as the MOD.

“There are so many memories from my time at university, which for me was one of the major highlights of my life. My Poly Olly colleagues and I simply get the pleasure through the scholarship of helping someone to have a similar once in a lifetime experience. I hope that future students studying at Leeds Beckett will enjoy their time, gain a great qualification, but importantly make new friends for life as we did.”

Can you tell us about your rugby career?

In 1972, I started out playing for the Leeds Polytechnic rugby team – nicknamed the ‘Poly Ollies’ - which I went on to captain to success during my time at university. I remember having limited facilities compared to today, training in a small gymnasium in Leeds city centre and playing home matches on a Leeds Council rugby pitch, before they were able to hire their own pitch. One of his biggest successes came in my final year when we won the Yorkshire Silver Trophy, beating Old Rishworthians 24 – 0 in the final.

Are you still in touch with the Poly Ollies?

Many of us have stayed in touch over the years, holding a reunion most years often at the varsity match. Our relationship with Leeds Beckett has been ongoing for many years, and it has been fantastic to be able to come back most years, catch up with each other, and see the current rugby team play.

Can you tell us a bit more about the Poly Ollies Scholarship?

In 2019 I helped to establish the Poly Ollies Scholarship. The scholarship was something that the group had talked about for a few years, with many of them knowing the costs that can put people off from attending university. I had personally seen this after my own daughter recently graduated from university. I had helped to support her costs throughout her studies, and realised how big of a contrast this was to when he was at university and everything was paid for me. The scholarship supports one student each year studying in the Carnegie School of Sport, supporting them throughout their university studies.

What will your story be?

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In Clearing
Students playing rugby in a sports hall
In Clearing
Female student doing squats in strength and conditioning suite
In Clearing
Male student using the environmental laboratory facilities in the Carnegie School of Sport building
In Clearing
Students throwing a ball through a hoop