1973 Edgar Riley

Edgar Riley joined the Carnegie College of Physical Education in 1973 on a one-year secondment from his course at Chesterfield College. His time at Carnegie impacted him so much he later designed and produced a plaque to commemorate 50 years of Carnegie (1933 to 1983) which today sits in the new Carnegie School of Sport building.


Man wearing Carnegie blazer in garden

Tell us about your journey to Leeds Beckett?

I left school at the age of 15 years with no qualifications and very little confidence. Unfortunately, my mother suffered from brittle bones and consequently my parents were advised not to allow me to participate in any physical activities. When I left school, I started an Engineering Apprenticeship in Crewe Locomotive Works and, after completing a one-year probationary period, I was accepted as a Moulding Apprentice in the Foundry. After the five years of training, I qualified as a Foundry man and attended night school and day release classes to achieve the Certificate in Advanced Foundry Practice. I then advanced to the position of Assistant Foundry Manager.

After a brief period of acting Foundry Instructor, I decided to explore the possibility of becoming a lecturer. This led to being appointed as a Lecturer in Foundry Technology at Chesterfield College of Technology. However, due to the rapid decline in Engineering, I was offered the opportunity of re-training. By this time, I had participated in a variety of sports including rugby, football and judo and was taking full advantage of the Sports Hall and new PE department which had been built when the College of Technology was amalgamated with the Art College. So, I applied and was accepted onto the one-year full-time PE course at Carnegie in 1973. All my peers were already established PE teachers, so the work required to complete the course was both physically and academically demanding.

What do you remember most about your time at Leeds Beckett?

I had secured a one-year secondment and Carnegie was the only college offering a one-year certificate in PE, so at the time it was the only course available to me. Being accepted at Carnegie, I felt privileged to be attending one of the most prestigious Sports Colleges in the country and fulfilling a long-held ambition. I felt part of a team and had a sense of belonging and relished participating in and learning new sports and activities, meeting people from different backgrounds, and performing at a level I once felt unachievable . I remember the feeling of absolute euphoria when I actually passed the course, after all the hard work I'd put in. Without a doubt my proudest achievement to date was attending Carnegie.

How did your course help you to get to where you are now?

The course enabled me to become more involved and active in cross college departments which in turn helped me to anticipate the possible directions the college would take. After graduating from Carnegie, I returned to Chesterfield College and divided my time between Lecturing in Foundry Engineering and Physical Education. I eventually moved to a full-time position in the Department of Physical Education. 

With the introduction of a new Student Services Department, I was appointed as a Student Counsellor as well as being responsible for the Health Education. This was a full-time appointment and I transferred from the Department of PE to the new Student Services Department.

As part of the college counselling team, we introduced short counselling courses for the course tutors who were responsible for student guidance and welfare. This led to the introduction of Counselling Courses offered to organisations and the public. I qualified to lecture in Counselling and then became a tutor on the Access to Higher Education Course as well as College Counsellor.

I was awarded a master’s degree in Education in 1987 from the University of Sheffield, after completing a one-year full-time course on secondment from college. 

I retired form my career as a tutor/counsellor in 2007 at the age of 65 having spent 40 years as a Lecturer in Education. 

What advice would you give to a student about to begin studying at Leeds Beckett?

Enjoy the experience as much as you can and take advantage of whatever is offered to you. You never know where it will lead.

What led you to design and produce the plaque to commemorate 50 years of Carnegie (1933-1983)?

The Curator from the Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet Sheffield contacted the college to ascertain whether any member of the Foundry staff would be willing and able to operate their Crucible Furnaces. My colleague Bryan Cameron Benton and I visited Abbeydale and consequently were invited to operate the furnaces and demonstrate the craft of moulding during their open days and annual craft fairs. We also participated in several films for both TV and cinema. The most notable being the story of Benjamin Huntsman the inventor of Crucible Steel. This was produced by two Sheffield brothers and was sponsored by Michael Palin. The interest shown by the public resulted in the formation of the Cameron Pearson Craft Foundry in the Derbyshire town of Bakewell in 1980. We produced many different types of castings in a variety of metals and cast a great number of Aluminium Name plates. 

Having been invited to attend the Carnegie Reunion, which was held at the Queens Hotel Leeds on Saturday the 17 September 1983, I decided to produce a plaque to commemorate the occasion. There were a lot of activities taking place with the Golden Jubilee Dinner in the evening. There were several guest speakers including Ron Pickering, an ex-student and TV presenter. I presented the plaque to Mr Bond, the Head of Carnegie, during the proceedings.