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You’re never too old to learn, as one student at HEART partner, Leeds Trinity University has proven by progressing onto the second year of a Foundation degree at the age of 89.
Bill Hart is Leeds Trinity University’s oldest student, studying a foundation degree in Professional Coaching of Lishi Movement. Lishi is a 3,000 year old Chinese culture that trains in the function and role of posture and alignment, the development of breathing skills, and the context of using energy for movement and dance. The course is physical, requiring regular training each week as well as research, reading and essay writing.
So why now, and why Lishi?
After serving in the Royal Navy during the war, Bill started out in labouring. While working full-time, he studied engineering at night school to become a Chartered Engineer and as a result he rose up through the ranks in a career in aircraft electrical engineering, which included working on Concorde. Bill eventually became a Chief Engineer in charge of 250 staff.
Although Bill has not been involved in academic studies for a long time, China and its culture have been in Bill’s blood for as long as he can remember. This passion was kindled by a photograph of the Great Wall of China that his grandmother showed him when he was 7, and intensified when he watched the film ‘Lost Horizon’, an adaptation of the book which is best known for being the origin of Shangri-la. Bill said that he, and everyone else at the time, was very struck by the film because it presented an attractive vision at a time when everyone knew that war was coming.
China has been his lifelong passion ever since, and Bill has visited China many times throughout his career as part of the ‘The 48 Group’, an independent business network (also known as the ‘icebreakers’) that was among the first to promote business links with China. He visited Shanghai, Beijing and many other places, and went twice a year until he retired in 1980.
Bill used to practise yoga and after his wife died in 2007, he decided to try and take it up again. He found the stretches challenging and so decided he would try and find something different that might be a little easier. He Googled ‘Tai Chi’, and the first search result that appeared was ‘Lishi in Leeds’, so he decided to give it a go!
Bill has been practising Lishi since 2008, spending six hours per week training. When Leeds Trinity University launched its foundation degree in Professional Coaching of Lishi Movement, he was personally invited onto the degree by the Chief Coach of Lishi. As part of the degree he’s been on courses to Germany and Utrecht, where he trains for 5 hours per day.
Speaking about the course at Leeds Trinity, Bill said:
“The best thing about the course is the research and reading. I’ve always read, but the degree gives me a purpose to actively research. Although it’s challenging, studying and practising Lishi has definitely kept me more active, and I particularly love studying it at Leeds Trinity University. It’s a lovely campus with a lovely, welcoming community.”
Dr Ian Kenvyn, Programme Leader for Professional Coaching of Lishi Movement, added:
“Bill has been a delight to work with, he brings such a wealth of life experience to his university engagement. Having mature students like Bill in our students’ cohort adds a sense of depth and focus that very much enriches the whole university experience and highlights that education is a life-long process that cannot be restricted to our teens and twenty-somethings.”
The 2014 Adult Learners’ Festival commences on 1 May, what will you be learning?