John Ioannou

1962 Biology & Economics

Keelite of the Year Novemebr 2011 John Ioannou with daughter Sarah  What I am doing now
Enjoying retirement. I live on the northern flank of Whernside (the highest of the three peaks of Yorkshire) and enjoy walking. I have done the three peaks 43 times, and hope to get to my 50th before too long. I run (two half marathons a year, and 5 full marathons so far!), raising sponsorship for the North West Air Ambulance. My wife and I enjoy travelling – we have friends and family in Canada, Cyprus and Australia, as well as across England, so no shortage of places to go.

Photo: Running the London Marathon in 2009 with daughter Sarah at Mile 18

How  did you get to where you are now?
By a very roundabout route. After graduating I did a PhD in the Department of Anatomy at Birmingham, then a Research Fellowship for three years, followed by a Lectureship in Anatomy at Leeds Medical School. By this time I was married (to a Medical Student!). After six years as a Lecturer I decided I wanted to become a doctor, and with my wife’s encouragement I studied medicine and qualified MRCS LRCP in 1977. I was a GP in Bramcote, Nottingham from 1983 until retirement in 2002.

What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Persuading Newcastle Medical School to admit me as a mature student to their Clinical course without having gone through their Pre-Clinical course. I passed the Conjoint first part while still working as a Lecturer, so I only had three years of full-time study to Part 2.

And your biggest mistake?
At age 64 I accepted an invitation to play squash with a new friend 25 years younger than me (having not played for a year). Predictably, I ruptured my Achilles tendon. I made a good recovery, but have been more careful since. No more squash!

What are your ambitions now?
To live long enough to share the delights of walking and running with my grandchildren. Since they are only 18 months and 7 months old, this may seem a bit ambitious!

What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in a similar field?
Do some living before embarking on a career path. As a mature medical student I found I could often empathise with patients better than my consultant boss despite his or her much greater clinical skills, simply by having lived longer.

What made you choose Keele University?
Good luck. I had no idea about universities in 1957 but a school friend had applied to Keele, and the wide course options seemed attractive. Also, going to a university meant deferred National Service, hence no risk of being sent to Cyprus to shoot at my cousins.

Keelite of the Year Novemebr 2011 John Ioannou returns from USA  What kind of a student were you?
Quite serious at first, but much more laid back as time passed, especially after my year at Reed College. Because of that, I took five years to get my BA, and was better able to cope with demands of fulltime research.

Photo: Returning from the USA in 1961.

How has Keele influenced your life?
Profoundly. The Foundation Year course introduced me to Science (my A levels were English, French and History). Prof Alan Gemmell was generous enough to encourage me when I asked him if I could change from English to read Biology. The field trips to Aviemore, Loch Lomond, Aberystwyth and Malham opened my eyes to the natural world, which I have loved ever since. He also encouraged me to apply for the American exchange scheme, and I spent a year at Reed College as a result – this was another life-changing experience.

What is your favourite memory of Keele?
There so many. Noisy nights in the union bar; leisurely strolls down to the Sneyd, making snowmen outside Keele Hall, tobogganing down the hill towards the lake (on a borrowed tray from the dining room!), the ridiculous fun of Rag Day...    

What is your impression of Keele now?
I know little of Keele now, since I haven’t visited in a long while - but I hope to remedy that very soon!

Anything else you would like to add?
I hope the things that changed my life and made Keele unique – the Foundation Year, the American exchange, the wide choices available, the closeness of campus life – are still features of Keele. I also hope the establishment of the Medical course has not adversely affected the balance of cultures in the student body.