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Goodbye to Grahame - Head Porter retires

Retiring Head Porter, Grahame Appleby, shares some of his memories of Jesus College and tells us what he plans to do next.

How long have you been Head Porter at the College?

I became Head Porter in 2001 after Peter Bacon retired, having been a porter here since 1994. Prior to that I spent over 20 years in the British Army as a Royal Military Policeman.  I served in many theatres including, Northern Ireland, British Army on the Rhine (BAOR) in Sennelager, Paderborn, Berlin Brigade, Hong Kong, Sardinia, Norway, Turkey, Belize and a few other exotic places  

What has been the best part of the job of Head Porter? 

I have loved developing the role of Head Porter.  When I took over the role it was just running the lodge and sorting mail.  I have developed the role and now the Head Porter sets and manages their own budget, is responsible to the Domestic Bursar for all health and safety throughout College and is also responsible for fire safety.  I oversaw the installation of the electronic locking system throughout college, getting rid of nearly all keys and making the whole site much more secure and user friendly. 

Is there a day in the year that you like the best?

I have two favourite days of the year.  The first one is Freshers Saturday!  Seeing all the new students arriving, all excited and apprehensive at the same time.  To help them start this new adventure in their lives is exciting.

The second one is Graduation Day.  A day of true ‘Pomp and Ceremony’ I love seeing all the parents, boyfriends, girlfriends, aunties, uncles and the like all dressed up and excited at what is to come.  The buildup is exciting, the speech from the Senior Tutor is funny, relaxing the nervous students, and I've been proud to lead the walk to the Senate House.  I love waiting for the Graduands as they leave the Senate House through the Doctor's Door and congratulating them on their success.

What will you miss the most?

I will miss my colleagues, not only the porters but those that work in other departments.  I will miss the students as they are the life’s blood of the College.  I have formed many friendships over the years with students and have a great relationship with the majority.  However it still amazes me on Graduation Day when I call out a name and have no idea who they are; they have remained anonymous throughout.

What are you planning to do in your retirement? 

We are retiring to Spain.  We have had a house there for around 20 years and visited about three times a year.  Due to Brexit I have to move now in order to get our ‘residencia’ before the transition period ends in December 2020.  We are looking at buying a cortijo or finca with a little bit of land for a small holding, and plan to keep chickens and some goats.  We are also planning a long vacation, once COVID-19 is finished (hopefully) visiting our old haunts including Hong Kong, Berlin, Belize and more.

Finally, what will you take away as your fondest memory of working at Jesus College?

I have had nearly 26 fabulous years here.  I love the sense of community that has developed over the years and the development of the site. We have fabulous buildings and surroundings to work in and I will have treasured memories of my time here.

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