Great day for gran as Johan graduates from course she taught

September 2018

Retired senior lecturer Mary Elkerton couldn’t have been prouder to see her grandson graduate from UCB this week – especially when his course is one of today’s equivalents of the one she taught at the University for 31 years.

Johan Elkerton was awarded his Food and Nutrition foundation degree at Birmingham Symphony Hall in front of Mary, who taught Food and Consumer Management and received a UCB Fellowship on the same stage in 2007.

Over the years, Mary taught countless success stories from UCB’s College of Food, including former BBC Good Food and Delicious magazine editor Mitzie Wilson and Sandra Ziles, who was instrumental in the Queen’s 90th birthday party food as Head of Product Development at Marks and Spencer.

However, seeing 23-year-old Johan receive his FdSc degree and get ready to return to UCB for a third year to top-up to a full BSc (Hons) degree - studying modules Mary helped to pioneer and develop – was extra special.

“Johan was always interested in sports nutrition and, being close, we would have great arguments about food supplements” said Mary. “It was really interesting, coming from different generations, although the rest of the family would get fed up of us nattering on about it.

“When we started looking at getting him into higher education, I said, “why don’t you look at my place?”. He did and loved the look of the Food and Nutrition degree, essentially the course I taught. It’s, clearly, in the blood.

“To see him up on that stage, the one where us lecturers sat for hours and hours during graduations back in the day, was such a proud moment for me.”

Mary joined UCB in 1976 after working for British Gas as a home service advisor, holding demonstrations to guide consumers through changes in gas supply at the time and how they could adapt their cooking to benefit. She also worked for Stoves Limited as a home economist, finding her fledgling feet in research and development as a designer of self-clean oven liners.  

Johan’s lecturer Mandy Lloyd was also taught by Mary as an undergraduate in her early 20s and went on to lecture with her from 1994. Mandy then succeeded Mary in leading many of the creative food modules within the College of Food when she retired in 2007.

Mandy said: “Mary was an inspiration for me from the first time I met her and she continues to support and advise me. Her enthusiasm and energy for teaching food is infectious and she approached everything with professionalism and a wicked sense of humour. It has been a pleasure to teach Johan and I know how proud she was to see him graduate.”

Find out more about courses at UCB’s College of Food.

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