UNIVERSITY NEWS LAST UPDATED : 22 JANUARY
Whilst most people leave university with a degree, new friends, and more independence, a lucky few can find their soulmate on campus too.
Research conducted by Accommodation for Students found that 23% of UK couples got together whilst at university, with 32% of graduates going on to marry their university partner.
We caught up with a group of couples who were lucky enough to find their other halves right here at BCU.
CLARE AND ROB
Rob: “I studied BA (Hons) Economics from 1987 until 1991, and Clare studied BA (Hons) Business Studies from 1988 until 1992. We vaguely knew of each other through mutual friends. We first spoke to each other in the Crowbar, which was the student union bar on Westbourne Road in Edgbaston, on 19 October 1990. We then went on our first date at The Duck on Hagley Road. We’ve now been together for 31 years!
"It was great meeting at university when you're young, free of responsibilities and both skint! Neither of us really expected to meet our future partner at university, but I knew that Clare was the one for me when I realised that she had the same music taste as me. We still go to concerts together now.
"We got engaged at Burgh Island, Devon, while on holiday in 1997. I did the whole traditional thing of asking Clare's dad in advance. Luckily, he agreed, and I proposed on one knee. We got married in March 1999 at Boarhunt Church in Hampshire, followed by a reception at Port Solent Yacht Club.
"There were several other BCU graduates there from both mine and Clare's friendship groups. I went onto work at BCU in the Finance Department for a year, so there were also several friends who worked at the university at the wedding too. One of the best things about the day was having the DJ playing all our favourite music, which was mostly indie music from the late 80s and 90s, a lot of which we had spent our student days dancing to in various clubs around Birmingham.
"Nowadays, I am Finance Director for The Royal Naval Benevolent Trust, which is a charity that supports current and former members of the Royal Navy and their families. Clare is a Careers Advisor at Oasis Academy Sholing, a secondary school in Southampton.
"In the time we have been together, I’m most proud of when we spent two years living and working in St Helena, which is a remote island in the South Atlantic, from 2008 until 2010 with our two young children. It was an amazing opportunity for the four of us and we had a great experience settling into the local community.
"We have always encouraged each other in our careers, as well as in our own interests and worked together to try and be the best parents we can to our children too. Clare is the most caring person I know, and she makes me laugh a lot. Clare just says that I’m much better at managing money now than when I was as a student.”
DANIELLE AND STEPHEN
Danielle: “I started studying BA (Hons) Primary Education QTS in 2002. Stephen had started at BCU a couple of years before me to complete a HND before deciding to study the Business Management course. We met at the University’s Christmas Ball at Aston Villa football ground in 2003 and we made things official a few months after meeting.
“I graduated in 2006, and Stephen stayed on at the university to manage the BCU football team. I never thought I would meet my soulmate at university, especially at the age of 19. Stephen was super popular. He was captain of football teams, ran for student union president and I was so proud that he was mine!
“Stephen said within weeks he knew that I would be his wife. I just knew after months of the butterflies not disappearing after each time, I saw him. He made me wait 11 years until he popped the question, but we finally got engaged in 2014 at BCU, at the old Perry Barr campus. We walked by the library and were reminiscing on the old days, and Stephen got down on one knee. We then headed to the Hare of the Dog for a pint.
“We got married a year later in my hometown of Rugby. The venue, Dunchurch Park, was a childhood dream of mine. Walking down the aisle and saying I do was the best moment for me. Seeing all our friends and family together celebrating us was amazing and there were lots of other BCU grads there with us too.
“Nowadays, I work at Walkwood Middle School in Redditch as the Assistant Principal, and Stephen is currently Head of Bid Management at Novus Property Solutions. We have both helped each other a lot. Stephen has managed to open his own business and I have reached a senior level in teaching. We have believed in ourselves and achieved so much together, both personally and professionally.
“We are still as in love as we were at university, and now we’re raising a family with our two young boys, Charlie who is five and Henry who is nearly two years old. Our biggest achievement is going from the crazy going out all the time couple to parents, while we still appreciate each other at the same time.”
DANIELLE AND JACK
Award-winning alumna Danielle Pinnock, who graduated from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire in 2012, met her husband Jack Wallace whilst studying here in Brum.
Danielle grew up in New Jersey before choosing to study at the Conservatoire and gained more than just an Acting degree whilst here, after she met Jack from Warwickshire who completed an MA in Professional Voice Practice.
Nowadays, the couple live in Los Angeles, with Jack working as a dialect coach and Danielle becoming a Hollywood star thanks to her roles in Ghosts, Young Sheldon and most recently in Candy Cane Lane.
The couple got married in 2013, with it taking place in an intensive care unit after Danielle’s mother Joan suffered a stroke the night before the wedding was due to take place.
In April 2023, the couple were finally able to have the wedding day of their dreams with a vow-renewal on their 10-year anniversary.
INESSE AND CLIFFORD
"Me and Inesse met at BCU in March 2016. We had both started at university just two months before, I was studying Mental Health Nursing and Inesse was studying Adult Nursing. We were talking during a joint lecture and realised that we both understood each other’s language. We are both from Cameroon. Inesse is from the French speaking part of Cameroon, and I’m from the English-speaking part. I never expected to meet my soulmate at university, but we made it official a few months after meeting and we’ve been together ever since. We are the perfect match.
"We had a wonderful time together at university. There was never a dark moment, we helped each other and shared ideas together. It was like finding my best friend. Having spent so much time together whilst at BCU, as we were approaching graduation, I knew I had to spend the rest of my life with her.
"On her birthday in March 2019, I gathered around 20 classmates from BCU at Marco Pierre White’s in Birmingham. During the meal, I proposed. We got married on the 25 September 2021 at Birmingham Register Office followed by a reception of over 200 guests. The best moment of the day was when I made my speech and referred to her as my wife for the very first time. The fellow BCU graduates who celebrated our engagement with us were also there on our wedding day.
"We both now work for the NHS. I’m a Deputy Ward Manager at Mary Seacole House in Winson Green, and Inesse works at the City Hospital in Birmingham as a Staff Nurse. We are proud about the experience we have gained since university, and we always try to be as supportive of each other as possible. My ambition is to complete a prescribing course and become a manager, and Inesse hopes to become a Health Visitor.
"But since BCU, we are most proud of becoming parents to our baby boy. Our son, Ethan, was born on 11th July 2020, and baby number two is due to arrive soon. We have always aimed to communicate well, have an understanding towards each other and spend time together too. But our most common goal is the love we share for family, and we can’t wait for our future together."
BONNIE AND CHRIS
Chris and Bonnie Hay met whilst studying together for an MA in Jewellery and Related Products at BCU’s historic School of Jewellery back in 2010.
Bonnie, who is from Birmingham and starred on BBC Two’s All That Glitters in 2022, which was filmed at the School of Jewellery, soon fell for Chris thanks to their shared love of their chosen industry.
Chris, originally from Somerset, grew up around jewellery as his father had his own shop in Taunton. So, it wasn’t a surprise when Chris also chose to follow in his footsteps, and he soon enrolled onto an evening class in stone setting at the School of Jewellery in 2005.
This was followed by a HND in Jewellery and Silversmithing which he completed in 2008, a BA (Hons) in Jewellery which he graduated from in 2010, before additionally completing the Master’s course in 2011.
After getting married in 2013 and settling in to married life at their home in Bearwood, the couple both found work at BCU. Bonnie currently works as a Senior Metal Technician and until recently, Chris worked as a Knowledge Transfer Technician at STEAMhouse, alongside raising their daughter who is now four years old.
It is their joint passion of jewellery, as well their desire to leave a legacy and build a future for their family, that has led the couple to open their very own store; Hay Fine Jewellery, based in the Jewellery Quarter.
CHARLOTTE AND BENEDICT
Lottie: “I studied Media and Communications as a Television specialist and graduated in 2017 and Benedict was in the year above me on the same course but as a Photography specialist.
“Towards the end of my second year at BCU, I came out of a long-term relationship and started hearing from mutual friends of mine and Benedict's that he was interested in me. Time went on and me and Benedict still had never spoken properly, until one day when I was hungover! Me and my friend walked over from Curzon Gateway, the student accommodation where we lived, to the Eagle and Ball, because I really fancied nachos. When we headed over, we walked past Benedict, and despite looking like a hungover mess, we said hello and swiftly walked off. I took this as a sign and decided to message him that day. We have spoken every day since! We now also celebrate that day as nachos day.
“We have dated ever since nacho day on the 18 May 2016, but Benedict officially asked me to be his girlfriend on 6 October 2016. Going into university in a long-term relationship, I hadn't thought about what the future would hold, but I couldn't be happier to have met Benedict there just before he graduated.
“Just before the pandemic hit, we were fortunate enough to be able to get our first home together in Shropshire. Now we have been in our home for over three years, and we have recently become a family of three, after rescuing our lovely lurcher Apollo late last year.
“Nowadays, I work as a Content Officer in the Marketing and Communications team at BCU and am loving it. Over the last few years, Benedict has built up his own wedding and events photo booth business, Made You Look. Benedict is also currently starting up a second business alongside, making outdoor joinery and gates, after landing a job at an outdoor wooden product business over covid which he really enjoyed.
“My favourite thing about Benedict is that we have so many traits in common, he is adventurous and wants to experience new things and places all the time, like I do. But most of all, he really cares about me and makes a real effort with me. He has helped me grow in every aspect of myself in all the best ways, whether it be adult things like our mortgage, helping me with my mental health struggles with his positive attitude, supporting me through my career since and he is great at finding new things for us to experience too.”
Benedict said: “Charlotte is a very kind person, she will always help people out and genuinely mean it when she does, but it’s the simple things like always being up for an adventure and never saying no to a bag of crisps that are the best.
“Charlotte is basically my business advisor and creative assistant, with everything I do with my business, she is always there to offer her opinion and feedback on how to make things better or look at things from a different perspective. On the down days, she will always make me smile and get me back on track, and on the good days, she always knows where to find a good place to eat.”
JESSICA AND ROBIN
Jessica: “I studied Fashion Design at BCU, and Robin did Illustration, so although we both chose creative courses, we probably would never have met during university if it wasn’t for us being placed into the same flat in Jennens Court in our first year. We made it official shortly after we realised that there was something between us, and we were together for the duration of our time at BCU.
“However, at the end of university in 2012, we decided to break up. I was moving down to London for an internship at London Fashion Week and we never spoke again. That was until late 2014, when I bumped into Robin’s brother several times in the same month. I thought it was odd, so decided to message Robin about it. He’d recently moved down to London too, so we decided to meet for a drink. We’ve been together again ever since.
“Having that break was good for us and gave us chance to grow as individuals. Robin went to China for a year to teach, and then decided to become a teacher back in the UK and I was able to focus on my career and life in London. I don't normally believe in fate, but I feel like something must have happened, because the chances of seeing his brother so many times in a city as big as London are very slim, so it must have been meant to be.
“We're both very different people. He’s very determined and has a get up and go attitude, I’m much more relaxed and chilled, so we complement each other well. Robin is also very positive and encourages me to do new things. We’re both taking part in the Hackney Half Marathon soon, it’s something I would never do but he pumps me up. We are both very patient people though, so we work together well.”
“After working in the fashion industry for several years, nowadays I work as an Optimisation Executive at Channel 4 and Robin is a Primary School Teacher. In 2020, we both turned 30 and we were going to get engaged at his parents’ house at a big family party. However, lockdown happened. He cooked a meal for my birthday at home and invited me into our dining room for drinks beforehand. I walked in, and he was on one knee. I thought he was joking!
“We then got planning the wedding, and we were so lucky to have the best day in July 2021, not long after the restrictions on weddings were lifted. We got married at Robin’s family home in Hertfordshire. His dad did the ceremony for us, and we had a huge tepee in the garden, and everyone danced to Sweet Caroline. It was an amazing day, so relaxed and after the last 18 months, our 120 guests had the best time.”
“We’re both looking forward to the future. We moved into our first flat a couple of years ago and we’re doing lots of work to it and we’d love to start trying for a family of our own by the end of the year too.”
Did you meet your partner at BCU? We would love to hear your story. Email us today: Alumni@bcu.ac.uk