Archivist from Kensal Rise awarded a British Empire Medal
PUBLISHED: 18:32 05 January 2015 | UPDATED: 10:00 06 January 2015
A Kensal Rise resident who twice failed his university exams has been awarded a British Empire Medal for services to higher education.
Alan Parish, who lives in the same house he was born in 77 years ago, has worked at the City University of London for 54 years.
Now with the dominant role of being an archivist and mace bearer to the chancellor and vice chancellor at the university, he attends hundreds of graduations a year but never once thought he’d be honoured by the Queen.
He said: “It’s such a surprise. I didn’t expect it at all.”
Mr Parish received a letter at the end of November which said he was invited to a presentation and garden party “which I assume is at Buckingham Palace, but I don’t know about that,” he said.
Joking that he wasn’t sure he’d attend, he added: “It all depends on what dress we have to wear. I’m not going to go if you have to wear top hat and tails.”
Mr Parish attended Chamberlayne Road Infant School (later closed down and turned into Manor School), Kensal Rise Junior School, before going on to Kilburn Grammar School, which closed in 1988.
He studied for a his degree in electrical engineering at City University of London after joining in 1957.
He said: “I took the exams at the end of the first year and failed, then I took it at the end of the second year and I failed. So I came and saw the head of department, asked him what I suggested I do and he said why I don’t join the staff.
“I didn’t even realise the university had staff. So I came here as a technician in 1960 and just progressed through.”
He switched to part-time last January but continues to play an active role at the university, as a both as volunteer archivist and Mace Bearer, working five days-a-week.
For the last 45 years Mr Parish has divided his time with his love of music as the assistant organist at Barnet Parish Church.
He received a bachelor of music degree in 1971, and obtained a degree equivalent diploma in electrical engineering four years earlier.
“It’s difficult when you have two different interests but it all turns out well in the end.”
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