71: Marion Stuart

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My guest this week is Marion Stuart who studied Divinity at Lampeter in the 1980s and talks about the oddity of being in the same peer group as her lecturers. She reflects on how she took a subject which her parents wouldn’t really have approved of and she remembers the legendary DP Davies.
From childhood Marion recalls the bombs that dropped during the Second World War and when the Crystal Palace grounds opened up. She tells us why she was ‘teacher’s favourite’ and how she had to deal with bullying. Marion remembers the rules of grammar school and how different it is from today, and she reflects on the difference between public and private school and her experience of working in a Lebanese refugee school in Cyprus.
In terms of growing up, without pop music, Marion’s music was the school choir. She also learned songs from musicals and we talk about the concept of pop music being ‘of the Devil’ as well as how singing was her thing.
Marion became a Reader in the Church in Wales and she talks about being a member of the movement for the ordination of women and reminisces about the staff in Lampeter who influenced her, including Paul Badham. She talks about relating to staff in terms of life experience and we learn how she was an agony aunt to the younger students.
Marion reflects on her time working in the legendary Pooh’s Corner and about how the mural of Winnie the Pooh was created by her daughter. We talk about the role that university plays in ‘learning about yourself’ and Marion explains why Lampeter is somewhere that it is possible to stay for so long. Marion in turn asks me what it feels like to live now in Canterbury.
We talk about fate and destiny and why Marion could never return home after leaving school and she talks about political influences, how she once crossed the political floor and why students latch on to particular parties. We ask whether Brexit will ever happen (note this interview was recorded in November 2019), why she was a supporter of Wales becoming independent and why she hates strikes.
In the final part of the interview, Marion talks about whether her memories are positive and links this to questions of spirituality and we learn how she has turned around negative things. She has had some dark moments but she can now be nostalgic about them. We learn about how she officiates at weddings in Cyprus and also carries out humanist funerals. We learn how she ended up in Cyprus, how she has 2000 Facebook friends and how different it is to growing up in a house without a telephone, and why Marion thinks that life is a gift which has to be used.
Please note: Opinions expressed are solely those of Chris Deacy and Marion Stuart and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the University of Kent.

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