A passion for education

After graduating from Manchester in 1957, Norman Bland spent his life teaching and helping students. A legacy gift will ensure many others will benefit from the same world-class education Norman received.

Share In #RememberACharityWeek, read about how legacy gifts help support student scholarships at Manchester Share on X Many Manchester alumni choose to remember the University with a gift in their Will Share on X Norman Bland's life was dedicated to education, and ensuring students can fulfil their potential Share on X

Walter Norman Bland was a man who was passionate about education. From a young age he was diligent and hardworking, and that hard work and effort earned him a place at The University of Manchester to study in Politics and Modern History in 1954.

Coming from a working class background in East Manchester, it was quite rare for someone like Norman to attend university – the rates of attendance were only around 3.5% at the time.

He was given a small grant for his studies, and his mother went out to work to help support him through university as well.

University life

He made the most of his time here, getting involved in numerous extra-curricular activities including football and athletics, as well as working part time jobs in the local factories during the holidays – an experience which gained him the nickname ‘The Student Prince’ from the women working there.

But alongside all of his extra-curricular activities, Norman was fully committed to his academic studies, attending every lecture and class, and taking meticulous notes.

Every evening after lectures he would walk up to the Central Library with some friends and study for a few hours – often popping across the road to the local café for dinner.

A teaching career

After he graduated in 1957, he went on to do a one year Postgraduate Diploma in Education at Manchester, before getting a job teaching at the Central Grammar School where he was previously a student.

It was while studying for this Diploma that Norman met his wife Christina, who he remained married to for the rest of his life. They would often attend dances at the Students’ Union with Norman’s other university friends – many of whom he kept in touch with throughout his life.

He taught in schools around the North West for 30 years. Norman’s style was always to teach students how to think and how to analyse information, rather than just memorise facts – a style of learning he was taught at university and liked to pass on to his students.

One of Norman’s old students once rang him up out of the blue to thank him for teaching him this way. He told Norman that he had taught him how to ‘think and how to analyse information’.

He was always very passionate about helping students reach their full potential, and encouraging them where possible to attend university.

During his time working as a sixth form tutor, he often worked late helping students with their essays or other work. His wife Christina says that “’can’t’ didn’t exist in Norman’s vocabulary.” So when any pupil came to him with doubts about what they could achieve, he was always quick to tell them not to give up and keep trying.

He was very successful at getting his students into top universities all across the country, something he was always proud of.

Norman’s love for education didn’t just apply to teaching. He was also a lifelong learner. In his retirement he taught himself both Latin and ancient Greek. An avid reader, too, he once spent a winter reading the full works of Thomas Hardy.

Norman was also a proud member of the Historical Association for almost 60 years. He would regularly attend their lectures at the Renold Building at the University, often taking his students along with him.

Norman sadly passed away last year. In his retirement, he had reconnected with the University, attending talks and lectures including one given by University Professor and historian Michael Wood.

Leaving a legacy

Along with his wife, Christina, he also started supporting the University, and they have chosen to leave a gift in their Will to help provide scholarships to students from disadvantaged backgrounds, so they are able to access the same world-class education Norman benefited from.

At Manchester we share Norman’s passion for education, and we are committed to ensuring every talented student has the opportunity to make the most of their time at Manchester without financial worries.

Generous gifts from people like Norman and Christina ensure that our students are able to fulfil their full potential regardless of their background.

This legacy will ensure that Norman’s passion for education is continued long into the future.

Many alumni and friends like Norman and Christina have chosen to build on the long history of charitable giving to the University by including a gift to Manchester in their Will. If you would be interested in doing the same or would like to read more in our legacy pack, contact Rob Summers, Head of Development, on rob.summers@manchester.ac.uk or +44 (0) 161 275 2192.

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