Principal of The Isle of Wight College, Ros Parker OBE, was delighted to host a lunch in the college restaurant for two former employees, William (Bill) Smith and Ken Killeen, aged 101 and 100 years respectively.

Bill was Head of Food and Fashion from 1971, at the same time as Ken was Registrar of The Isle of Wight College.

Amazingly, during their celebratory lunch, another former employee, Leslie Vernall-Levins (aged 84), who was enjoying Christmas lunch in the college restaurant with a group of friends, came across to say hello; Ken had interviewed and appointed Leslie as a switchboard operator at the college, a role which she subsequently held for six years.

During their lunch Ros enjoyed hearing stories about the college including ...

  • In the early 1970s the Isle of Wight Technical College expanded to run courses in engineering, construction, business and general studies, food and fashion, and agriculture and horticulture.
  • Bill oversaw construction of the college restaurant and brought in a specialist team from a brewery to build the bar area.
  • The college ran work experience day release every week for nurses to ensure they had the required skills for work. This resulted in all of the student nurses completing the course and achieving their qualification.

Bill spent his honeymoon on the Isle of Wight in 1950, having travelled by train from Gloucester. He recalls that "the seawall at Ryde was completely full of couples, who had come to the island to spend their £47 end-of-year tax refund".

Ken Killeen was born a stone's throw away from the college, at the junction of Hunnyhill and Banner Lane, where his family ran the Castle & Banner pub (demolished in the 1970s).

Bill says that the secret to his good health and longevity is swimming every day and push-ups. To celebrate his 100th birthday he swam 136 metres to raise money for the NHS.

Ros really enjoyed spending time with Bill and Ken and is looking forward to hosting a reunion for people who worked at the College in the 1970s. If this applies to you, or if you know anyone who might wish to attend the reunion, please let us know by emailing