Features

The University of Love

Some of you may remember around two months ago the university posted a story about the lives of Megan and Nigel Temple. They’re a couple who met on the first day in Andrew Stewart Halls, graduated together and are now married.

This got me thinking – is this a common occurrence? Relationships that appeared rock-solid for one, two or even three years undergo a stern examination when the lecture hall is replaced by the workplace.

Amy Jenkins, creator of This Life, believes the odds are stacked against such romances surviving. She said in an interview with the BBC: “You’re probably too young to settle if you met at university.

“You haven’t found yourself then and don’t know what you’re going to do, necessarily. Your most important relationship is with yourself.”

However, I believe the University of Stirling is an exception to this. The sheer number of couples that I personally know couldn’t all be doomed to failure, surely? Unfortunately, universities don’t keep statistics on how many former students end up walking down the aisle, but with some investigating I have managed to find nine couples, all of whom walked the halls of Cottrell and are now Mr and Mrs and wanted to share their stories.

My first couple are the aforementioned, Megan and Nigel.

‘We met on the very first day of uni when our parents were helping us move in. Megan was 17 and I had just turned 18. We moved in on the Saturday and had our first kiss in Glow on the Monday, and have been together ever since!’

Megan and Nigel young.jpg

Credit: Megan Temple

‘After first year in ASH we moved into a flat of five in Cowane Street for a year and then decided to get a place just the two of us in third and fourth year in Braehead. Whilst studying Megan worked in Mr Simms Sweet Shop and Outback and I worked in WHSmith at the train station.’

They graduated together in 2014, Megan with a degree in Law and Nigel in Mathematics.

‘We then moved to Glasgow, got engaged September 2015 and bought our home in Giffnock last year. I teach in Bathgate and Megan is a civil clerk at Glasgow sheriff court.’

megan-and-nigel-graduation.jpg

Credit: Megan Temple

‘We really love Stirling and knew we had to go back there to get married. The service was in the Church of the Holy Rude and the reception was at Colessio, which wasn’t even open when we were at Stirling! Our table names were all places in Stirling we used to go to or lived.’

Megan and nigel wedding.jpg

Credit: Megan Temple

‘We also went to Dusk after the evening reception ended with the last few die hards … Nige kept his kilt on – I ditched the big white dress but kept my tiara!’

megan-and-nigel-dusk.jpg

Credit: Megan Temple

Dusk and Fubar are a popular meeting place it seems, with four of our couples citing their first unofficial date as being on the dance floors of Stirling’s finest clubs.

Helen and Grant Walker are part of this group, although they class their first official date was at the Macrobert centre. They both graduated in 2009, Helen in Politics and Grant in a Psychology masters, before marrying in 2012. They also have a daughter who they considered calling Stirling.

Another couple who can trace their first date back to Fubar are Mel and Thilo Petersen. Although they had met as waiters at the Dunblane Hydro, Thilo, a History student, graduated in 2005, a year after Mel, a Film and Media studies student. They have a daughter who is eight months old who they would love to one day study at Stirling as well.

Katie Hay was a week away from graduation in 1996 when her partner, Bruce, proposed to her. They married in 1999 and have one daughter who was born in 2009.

‘I cannot put my finger on what makes Stirling such a magical place romance-wise but there is definitely something as I know loads of couples who met over 20 years ago at Stirling and are still going strong!’

Jenny Beckett and her husband Jonathan almost missed their chance of love, before finally being introduced by friends just four weeks prior to graduation in 1996. They didn’t waste anytime however and were married in 1999. Jon is going to be guest lecturing at the university in January and the couple regularly visit from their nearby home in Larbert.

It’s not a new phenomenon either. Miriam Cox and her husband Gordon married in 1978. Miriam remembers, ‘Gordon, one-time chairman of Gannochy, and I met in a flat in Donnelly where my sister and her friends who lived in that flat were having a party and decided to invite the flat next door which was a flat of boys, almost all rugby players.’

‘I was invited as I had had a difficult week! It was October, I think the 13th, a Wednesday anyway in 1976. We were in the same year, but I graduated with an ordinary degree in June 1977 as there was not an option to do honours in Accountancy at that time. Gordon graduated in 1978 with Honours in Economics.’

‘We married on the 1st of June 1978 before Gordon’s graduation day and just after he had finished his final exams. We have two boys, who both went to Heriot Watt University. I had always gone to watch rugby on a Saturday and knew the faces of all that group. Our first date was probably essay writing in Gordon’s flat!’

‘It was all just ordinary to us at the time. We were very busy with student studies, being wardens and helping to look after others and playing sports and having fun! We really loved our time at Stirling and go up to the uni regularly. Gordon is still my very best friend.’

When it comes to the perfect date in Stirling take it from three of our couples that history and culture is the way to go. Amanda and Matthew Thompson who married in 2006 say ‘My perfect date in Stirling would be a picnic at the Castle’.

Sarah and Darren Cooper concur saying their perfect date would be; ‘A walk up to Stirling castle followed by a meal at Hotel Colessio’. Sarah and Darren met in Alexander court during Refreshers in 2008 and married eight years later in 2016. They also had their first daughter in August called Charlotte (Pictured below).

Finally, Debbie Kennedy and her husband Allan also feel history is the way to go. ‘Perfect date … probably going to the castle, then a visit to the Kilted Kangaroo for a meal’. They were both History graduates, so it shouldn’t be surprising, but their relationship was anything but history when they graduated in 2007. Married in 2009, they now have three kids, a 4-year-old girl and 2-year-old boy/girl twins. ‘We’d like them to go to Stirling, so we could visit!’

So, the question is; what is it about Stirling University which brings, and keeps, people together?

Unsurprisingly the most common reason our couples thought romance blossoms at the university is the campus. However, lots also thought it was because the student’s connection to one another. Helen Walker said; ‘I think it’s the closeness of the community, especially halls. We have loads of couples from our first year at AKD still together now. From our corridor in first year alone we have five married couples. It’s a very picturesque and romantic campus too.’

The Becketts also alluded to this; ‘I think Stirling’s gorgeous campus location and small scale makes for an intimate and romantic setting.’

In no way is this a factual representation, but it seems on the surface that Stirling has a high success rate when it comes to matchmaking. Maybe in a few years the university prospectus will hold the statistics on marriages between students as a potential lure to prospective students.

It may seem a ludicrous idea but when I look back on my time at Stirling after graduation next June, I will always look back on it with affection for many reasons but primarily because in my third year I found the person I want to spend the rest of my life with. So, here’s hoping Stirling’s record of keeping people together continues.

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