Friends reunite in Fife after 40 years

The group last met up over 25 years ago.
The group last met up over 25 years ago.

A group of former St Andrews University and exchange students has reunited in the town, 40 years after forming lifelong friendships.

The 14 friends – 11 exchange students and three former pupils – met in the town to reminisce, catch up and run on West Sands in a recreation of the iconic moment from Chariots of Fire, years after one of the group took part in the original scene.

The friends came from locations across the globe, such as the Los Angeles, Beijing and New South Wales, Australia.

Since finishing their studies, the 14 have gone on to have differing careers, with one the CEO of the European Fund Administration, another a senior recreation adviser in Beverly Hills, and one even appearing on the cover of Time magazine.

The reunion was the group’s sixth since meeting in 1977, but the first in over 25 years.

Thomas Seale, who studied at the University of California, met his wife, Sophie Verger, during his time at St Andrews.

He explained how the reunion came about.

He said: “Over the years, several of us have hosted these affairs. This one, and the one in St Andrews back in 1988, were organised by two couples, but during the week everyone takes turn in organising events, or telling stories, or preparing slides shows of old pictures.”

Thomas described their time in St Andrews as “formative” and said it wasn’t hard to get the group together, adding: “When the word gets out about a reunion, people come from all over the world to see their old friends.”

The group took part in a number of activities during the visit, taking in Fife along the coastal walk, braving the cold to swim in the North Sea and taking part in a ceilidh.

While most of the group could attend, two could not, so at the ceilidh on the final night, one delivered the Ode to a Haggis over Skype.

Despite it being over a quarter of a century since their last meeting, Thomas said it was like they had never parted.

“Funny enough, we just picked up where we left off,” he said.

“We are all a bit more grey with a few more wrinkles, but the feeling is the same.

“Being in St Andrews after all these years was magical.”

To mark the reunion, the group gifted around £1000 to the new Gatty Marine Laboratory extension.

Thomas explained why the group had made the donation, saying: “We wanted to make a gesture to the University. We heard about the Scottish Ocean Institute at the Gatty Marine Lab and felt this was a worthy cause.”

Thomas said it won’t be another 25 years before the next reunion – the group have already discussed meeting up in five years.