The University of Chester’s 175th anniversary programme of events and celebrations was launched with the official unveiling of a handcrafted commemorative quilt, stitched by staff and alumnae from the institution. Unveiled by the Lord Mayor of Chester, Cllr Bob Rudd, and the High Sheriff of Cheshire, Mrs Susan E Sellers, the quilt represents the journey of the former Chester Diocesan Training College which was founded in 1839, to the present fully fledged University with international status.

Each block from the two-metre square quilt, depicts an element of the University’s history and was designed and carefully crafted by one of the 17 members of staff or alumnae involved in the project.

Fiona Roberts, Alumni and Development Manager at the University, developed the original idea after creating quilts as gifts and personal keepsakes for a number of years.

She said: “I’ve always had a keen interest in sewing and quilting and wanted to create a permanent reminder of the 175th anniversary, something that could be seen for years to come long after the celebration events had finished.  I invited staff, alumni and local quilting groups to become involved in the creation of the quilt and received and enthusiastic response from people who were keen to help in some way.

“As a group, we held regular meetings where initially we shared our ideas for themes, decided who would like to take responsibility for each block and then we returned with our sketches or pieces of fabric. Experienced members of the group were able to offer and share advice with those who hadn’t done much in the way of appliqué or quilting before so the project  served as an opportunity to bring like-minded creative people together,  who may not otherwise have crossed paths.”

The intricate quilt took just over 12 months to create, with the final 25 blocks being stitched together by some of the members of the group, and transformed into the finished quilt at the Quilter’s Trading Post in Buerton, Cheshire.

Themes illustrated in the quilt include: the founders of the original College, including a Prime Minister and two Archbishops of Canterbury; international students; friendships; the University’s inauguration; the Eastgate clock; the River Dee and Handbridge; the City Walls; the University formal crest; iconic buildings across the different campuses and the University’s commitment to sustainability.

The grand reveal, which took place at the University’s new Grosvenor House building on the Parkgate Road Campus, Chester, was also attended by the Right Reverend Dr Peter Forster, Lord Bishop of Chester, who chairs the University’s governing body, as well as members of the sewing group, staff, alumni, and invited guests. A specially designed cake in the shape of a sewing box was also made for the occasion by Jackie Rowlands, Chef at the University.

The University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tim Wheeler said: “The 175th anniversary quilt is a remarkable piece of craftsmanship which will be admired by students, staff and visitors to the University for many years to come.  The official unveiling was the perfect launch to the University’s 175th anniversary celebrations, my special thanks goes to Fiona Roberts for her co-ordination of this project.”