Liverpool’s Lady Mayoress says going to university in her mid-60s was one of life’s ‘great adventures’ as she celebrated her graduation from Liverpool Hope University.
Roz Gladden, whose husband is Lord Mayor Roy Gladden, graduated with an MA in History at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral on Thursday 26 January.
The 68-year-old, who lives in West Derby, has been Councillor for Clubmoor for 20-years and decided to embark on a part-time Masters following her own stint as Lord Mayor in 2016/17.
Looking for her next adventure, Councillor Gladden elected to pursue a lifelong passion for history and she reflected with pride as she collected her degree in front of her husband, children and grandchildren at Hope’s 2023 Winter Graduation ceremony.
“I didn’t want being Lord Mayor of Liverpool to be my last adventure,” she said as she explained her reasons for returning to university.
“That was the motivation for me. This is something that I have wanted to do for years and years but I thought perhaps I couldn’t.
“When I finished my last degree in 1990, I remember saying to my daughter, ‘if I ever suggest studying again, you can hit me.’ Luckily she didn’t because this time was just so different and I loved it. It was a great adventure and I feel really proud of what I have achieved.”
Studying, however, was not without its challenges.
Councillor Gladden was forced to overcome the disruption of Covid-19, a bout of pneumonia and a broken ankle to complete her degree, which she had to combine with her busy role as a city councillor - all while having to adjust to academic study after 30-years away from formal education.
She admits there were times when she felt like giving up, but a personal motivation kept her going, as she sought to learn more about the world her great-great-grandfather had inhabited.
“I loved the syllabus at Hope,” said Councillor Gladden.
“It was brilliant. We did history of crime and we did a lot of Irish history, which was right up my street.
“My dissertation was on the Irish Famine and I knew I was going to do that because of the link to my great-great-granddad. It was part of my motivation to do the degree.
“I had done some family history so I knew that he came to Liverpool on his own as a 10-year-old boy during the famine and lived in a workhouse in Newcastle-Under-Lyme.
“My dad was only two when he died but he did remember little bits about him, so for me it became very personal following his story and how he coped with what happened.
“I am his great-great granddaughter and he is a very real person to me, so I feel a compulsion to tell his story because nobody did at the time.”
An additional benefit of returning to university was that it allowed Councillor Gladden in her role as one of Liverpool's most visible and distinguished representatives to witness first-hand one of the city's higher education institutions.
And she was impressed with what she experienced at Hope, a university she credits for taking a unique approach.
“The support was amazing,” she added. “There are smaller class sizes and it seemed to me that it made the teaching more personal.
“They take care of their students. It’s not about getting them enrolled and leaving them. It’s about that follow up to make sure students are well looked after and aren’t struggling and that they can cope being away from home.
“It’s a different approach.”
Commenting on his wife’s achievements, Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Roy Gladden said: “I feel immense pride to see Roz graduate.
“This was hard for her to do particularly witnessing her trying to study amid the challenges thrown up by Covid and her already busy work schedule.
“Her tutors at Hope were amazing and kept her going throughout it all. I wait with trepidation to see what she does next!”