IT WAS a momentous occasion for 364 former students of Salisbury Training College, later known as the College of Sarum St Michael, who received honorary degrees last month.

Students were awarded Honorary Bachelor of Education degrees by the University of Winchester in a special ceremony in Salisbury Cathedral on March 2.

Professor Joy Carter CBE, DL, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Winchester, said: “At Winchester, we train outstanding primary and secondary school teachers and boast a reputation as one of the best providers of teacher education in the country, so it is particularly exciting to celebrate past generations of inspirational teachers in this way.”

The college closed in 1978, but it lives on in the memories of many hundreds of students.

Former students have so many cherished memories of their college days and lasting friendships made there.

The honorary degrees recognise the teaching qualification alumni received at the college and their individual contributions to education.

Former education student Anne Johns, from Edington near Westbury, was head of St Martin’s infant School in Salisbury from 1988 to 1998.

She said: “Me and another 364 people, so all the students in Salisbury who studied at the time, got it. Most people didn’t do a degree or the college didn’t do very many.

“The college for men was in Winchester which later became the university and the women went to Salisbury college which later closed.

“They decided to give their own students a degree so they recognised the work of the college as the first women’s training college.

In 1968 Bachelor of Education Degrees were introduced. Not all students had the opportunity to study for a degree while at college, for example those who trained before 1968 and those who studied subjects in which degrees were not offered.

The honorary degree graduation was a celebration of their commitment to education during their training and throughout their careers in education.

“It was absolutely fantastic. There was the oldest person who was 93 which was an honour for everyone.We sang the college hymn and raised the roof of the cathedral. Students came from all over,” added Anne.

“Even though the college closed in 1968, which is now Salisbury Museum, there is still a newsletter published every year. It’s been 50 years it shows that the college is held in high esteem and people had happy memories and lasting relationships.

“I’m on the committee of the old students association and we still meet up three times a year which helps the memories live on and tells the stories of the students. It’s important to say how unique it is we still have the meet-ups.

“It recognises the contribution all the teachers have made over the years.”

There is an annual magazine published by the Old Students Association and a yearly reunion and service in the Cathedral attended by hundreds of former students. The next reunion was originally scheduled for May 9.