Older and wiser: Bath Spa University Master's student graduates at 88

Friday, 16 February, 2018

At 88 years old, local resident Jack Ladevèze is Bath Spa University's oldest graduate to receive an MA in Travel and Nature Writing, proving that it is never too late to learn.

Jack, who received his award at the University's Winter graduation ceremony on Wednesday 14 February at the Bath Assembly Rooms, spent two years studying part-time to hone his writing skills while examining the history, context and genres of travel and nature writing.

He said: "As a very experienced traveller I was immediately attracted to studying for an MA in Travel and Nature Writing, and decided that 2016 would be the year to further my learning. When I started the course I explained to my tutors that my only writing experience was as an accountant, preparing a document for a tax counsel to consider, so the learning curve was rather steep but highly enjoyable.

"The course has enabled me to see life from a distinct perspective. I most enjoyed meeting other students whose ages ranged from early twenties, to mid-thirties, forties and over sixty. At eighty-eight I feel as though I was a good addition and brought variety to the group.

"Using a range of styles and formats, together with a reflective diary of my progress, I am pleased to say I have produced a portfolio of twenty of my best items of work including experiences and observations I have made while travelling such as encountering bears, birds, volcanoes and documenting the sounds in nature. I plan to modify my portfolio and add to it to create a book. My next aim will be to have it published.

"To others contemplating a Master's degree, my advice would be 'have a go', it brought out abilities in me of which I was not aware. My tutors were very helpful and the overall studying experience was very stimulating."

Jack's connection with the University goes beyond his own love of learning. In 2016, he and his wife Audrey Ladevèze established the Bath Spa University Writing Award for students wishing to study for a Master's in Creative Writing. Each year the £1,000 award is given to a student who has demonstrated outstanding talent in writing, enabling them to progress their studies to Master's level.

Jack and Audrey are also trustees of the Enid Linder Foundation. Through this they sponsor the Victoria & Albert (V&A) Illustration Award that many Bath Spa students enter each year.

Over the years, Jack and Audrey have donated a beautiful collection of V&A Illustration Awards prize-winning books and papers to Bath Spa University. The unique collection, housed in the University's library at its Newton Park campus, shows the challenging nature of book illustration and design over 20 years and is a valuable learning resource for both students and staff.

Jack added: "Our initial contact with the University was on the occasion of our proposal to donate a collection of work from the winners and runners up from the V&A Museum's Illustration Awards, which as Trustees of the Enid Linder Foundation we have sponsored. We had a collection of these selected books and felt that they could be useful for Creative Writing and illustration students to consider the changes over a period of some twenty years."

In his spare time Jack, who is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, likes to travel and enjoys spending quality time with his wife in France.

Jack is committed to developing his knowledge further. He said: "I am currently taking a module in art, past and present, through the Open University. My spare time is spent travelling, although I do not consider that spare time but more of a continuous task. I also like to paint in watercolour, a very relaxing pleasure, and I have been known to try wood carving from time to time."

The MA in Travel and Nature Writing at Bath Spa University is designed for writers seeking advanced skills in creative non-fiction by the natural world and contemporary travelling. To find out more visit the course page.

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