Archie White awarded fine arts degree from East Sussex College aged 96 years and 56 days
A former solicitor from Hastings is believed to have become Britain’s oldest new graduate after receiving a degree in fine art at the age of 96.
Archie White, who retired at 92, said he was “not too bothered about being the oldest graduate or not” and had thoroughly enjoyed studying at East Sussex College.
“A friend of mine studied here the year before me, and she was quite enjoying it, so that gave me the idea when I retired as a solicitor to come here and do the BA fine art degree,” said the amateur artist, who was born when George V was on the throne and the average weekly wage equalled £103 in today’s money.
“The first year included a series of more or less introductory courses to the fine arts. So we dabbled in photography and making negatives, then we did clay modelling, which was great fun. Then we learned Photoshop, which was fun but not really for me,” he said in an article posted by the college.
A stroke five years ago had limited certain abilities, which meant he had found it difficult to work in dark room, but White was grateful for help from staff and other students. He is planning to create a charity to support graduates and to continue painting.
“If anyone is foolish enough to pay me for my paintings, I shall be amused, but if they don’t, it doesn’t matter,” White said. “I’ve had a long and enjoyable career, but one of the things I am most concerned about is for most people graduating, there is an inevitability almost, of them failing to make a living as an artist, a potter, photographer or modeller.”
At 96 years and 56 days, East Sussex College said White was also thought to be the oldest person in the UK to complete a degree.
At the time of submitting his final piece of work to the University of Brighton exam board, the college said he was just 145 days short of being a world record-holder. That was held by Shigemi Hirata, who graduated in Japan five years ago at the age of 96 years and 200 days.
Hannah Birkett, the fine art course leader at East Sussex College, said: “It has been an absolute pleasure to teach Archie over the last three years. He brings a unique contribution to the course, and his personal development has been extraordinary.”