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Andrea Walters

Andrea Walters, Manager in the Telephone Exchange, will officially retire from the University at the end of July. Here, her friends and colleagues reflect back on her time at Warwick...

Andrea began her working life at Warwick on Monday 3 February 1969. These were the days when people waited for the 'Inter-Site Bus' in the post room, which was a wooden hut located on ‘East Site’ (Gibbet Site) and then taken to Central Campus, of which the only buildings at that time were the Library, Engineering and Chemistry (Molecular Sciences). The Telephone Exchange was located in the basement underneath Lecture Theatres L3. This area was designated as an underground car park, but it was decided that a better use for it would be to locate the telephone exchange in that space. She also remembers the excitement of the Queen coming to Warwick to open the new Physics building (can you spot Andrea in the picture?) and the student sit-ins when the students managed to get into the telephone exchange and operators had an enforced 3 weeks holiday!

In the early years, we operated with an Ericcson switchboard that was so 'state of the art' we had a key pad to dial calls and not a 'rotary dial', this was a 'wow' factor at the time and we had many visitors who came to see this amazing system.

When she started at Warwick, Jack Butterworth was the founding Vice Chancellor and Dennis Linfoot was the Registrar. The telephone operators used to have a lot of contact with staff as there were no DDI (Direct Dial In) lines, consequently, every call, incoming and outgoing, were connected by the telephone operators.

One of Andrea’s memories was of the wonderful evening parties that the operators used to put on in the exchange, people used to beg for an invitation as they were so popular and renowned for being the place to be seen in!

Andrea was co-opted on to the Social Policy Committee in the early 70s, as the non academic member of staff. This committee was the equivalent of today’s Senate. Her claim to fame was that she and another non academic member of staff, Ted Clack, (Estates) were responsible for closing down the Junior, Middle & Senior Common Rooms, which used to be located at East Site above where the refectory is situated and replacing these with the 'Staff Club'.

For many years, there were frequent Balls organised by the first appointed Senior Tutor of the University, an economist, Bryan Sadler and his secretary Val Gladman. These were known as the 'JMS Balls' (Junior, Middle & Senior, Common Rooms) and when the tickets went on sale, they were sold out within hours as this was a major event for University staff and students. They were extremely popular as most people knew each other because the University at that time was still quite a small community.

Andrea also served on was the Sports Committee for 25 years and remembers when the Committee reluctantly decided the time had come to start charging for sport, which, up until then had been free. Squash at that time was the major sport and, as there were only four (over used) courts, the Sports Committee asked the University if they could provide extra courts. This was agreed, however, the proviso was that a 'mortgage' was taken out to pay for the courts, which was reluctanctly agreed to, and charges were passed on to the users.

Andrea’s other interest has been Popmobility classes, which started in the Sports Centre nearly 40 years ago, by Judy Hurrion, wife of an academic staff member in the School of Industry & Business (WBS). Andrea has been exercising to Popmobility for just under 30 years now. When Popmobility started in the Sports Centre, it was the only exercise to music class of its kind and people used to queue from the Sports Centre up to the Rootes building just to get a ticket. At the peak, 250 people used to attend the class and at one point the then Sports Director (Michael Ralph) had to put a limit of 180 per class because the sprung floor collapsed with the weight!

Andrea has made many very good friends through her time at the University, in fact she first met her husband (Peter) an Emeritus Professor in the department of Mathematics in 1972, however, it wasn't until 2001 that they finally married!

Andrea is sad to be retiring after many happy years at Warwick, but, is looking forward to having time to relax and enjoy this new phase in her life.