The organisation for ex-students at Coleg Harlech is known as the Coleg Harlech Association of Old Students (CHAOS).
Never has chaos been so well planned.
A week ago my wife and I spent a fine week-end at the CHAOS annual re-union at the College. I was there to talk about the Iraqi Trade Union Movement.
It is 40 years since my only previous visit to Coleg Harlech. Along with other lecturers from the Sheffield University Extramural Department, I was present for a fortnight's Summer Schools in 1967.
Ann and I have the good fortune to live near Geoff Bratley-Kendall who is the Secretary of CHAOS. He not only gave us a lift to and from the College, but he also toured us around telling sites at Portmeiron, Criccieth and Portmadog. He then took us to (and from) the CHAOS-organised walk around Harlech.
We were blessed with a week-end of fine weather and had a breathtaking view from our room at the top of an eleven storey residential block. We looked out upon Snowden, Harlech Castle, a fine Golf Course, the Bay, a single line railway and the College itself.
An important feature of the week-end was that the ex-students of Coleg Harlech, the Northern College and Ruskin College built an important link for the future. Ten ex-students from the Northern College were in attendance, whilst the Secretary of Ruskin College's equivalent body arrived to attend CHAOS's own AGM.
The new interconnection is one I indentify with closely. As an ex-Ruskin Student, I am a member of its ex-student body - the Ruskin Fellowship. Whilst I organised an annual short-course at the Northern College for nine years following its opening in 1978.
On top of this, I had a small hand in facilitating the new links by passing on a couple of key e-mail addresses to the right person at the right time - Geoff.
Geoff was an electrician at Markham pit when I first met him. This was only a month after I had first visited Coleg Harlech. He was a student on an Industrial Day Release Class run for Derbyshire Miners and I was the politics tutor. Afterwards, he moved from day-release studies to two year's full-time studies at the Coleg Harlech Adult Education College.
He then moved on to my old University at Hull, College Lecturing and firm voluntary commitments with his Trade Union NATFHE (National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education). On retirement, he has had the good sense to return to his original electrician's work, but now in a self-employed capacity.
In the days when Geoff and I attended Adult Education Colleges, these were part of an important (if limited) provision of full-time study for mainly working-class adults who had few or no formal qualifications. Geoff and I benefitted from this. Today this avenue is largely replaced by wider forms of opening for educational advancement. But for late developers like Geoff and myself, this tends to require a slog to obtain acreditations - a stage at a time. I am convinced that it is an access route to higher education which we both would never have had the determination, self-belief and planning to follow. For it is an avenue in which ambition tends to replace an interest in study for its own sake. Yet the chance to pursue new interests and develop fresh horizans, seems to some of us to have had invaluable spin-offs both for the individuals who participated in such studies and the wider society.
Hopefully, the new links forged through CHAOS will help keep a belief in the earlier formats of Adult Education at College's such as Coleg Harlech, Ruskin, and the Northern College alive. A good sign at Harlech is that the College is now known as "Coleg Harlech WEA". The Worker's Education Association were, of course, amongst the original propounders of the educational values I have stressed. And they were the organisers' of that first Summer School I attended at Coleg Harlech 40 years ago.