Memories of York University


Great evening last night at the Guildhall in York where the University of York was hosting a dinner for current and former students union officers as part of the university’s 60th anniversary celebrations.

Having been President of the Students Union 1976–77, I was one of the “oldies” there. Lovely to catch up with my immediate successor, Phil Harris (President 1977–78), in person for the first time in over 40 years and to meet new friends from later generations of student union officers.

It has all brought back lots of special memories. Here is one – me with the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsay, who we had invited to visit our 1977 occupation of the University administration building, Heslington Hall, as he happened to be in York at the time.

The occupation was part of the union’s campaign against steep rises in student fees, which were going to hit self-financed postgraduate students and overseas students particularly hard. Nice of him to visit but, from what I recall, he was not a fan of what we were doing!

Richard Burden with the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsay, in 1977.

Recent Posts

Richard Burden

Avatar photo

I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

Get in touch

You can reach me by email at or use the form on the Contact page to send me a message.