Twenty years being a “people-person” porter
Piers Fletcher celebrated his 20 years of service at Trinity Hall this year in one of the most iconic roles in academic life – a College porter.
Having been told by his father that he’d support whatever role Piers chose to go into, he opted to pursue jobs that allowed him to interact with people on a day-to-day basis: first as a postman in Cambridge for a decade and then working in the city’s YMCA for a further ten years.
Then, aged 44, Piers looked to the colleges he’d walked around for so many years.
“You spend your life going past the colleges when you live and work in Cambridge. I thought then that, at the age of 44, the college life would be a nice change and be something that complimented the work I’d already done.”
Piers’ role at the YMCA helping young people is something he believes has stood him in good stead, supporting and encouraging students.
“I’m a real people-person. When I got here I didn’t know much about college life but I soon learned. I’d never heard of the bumps but I was soon down on the bank supporting them and now it’s good to see students when they come back to talk about their time here.”
Helping students and interacting with Fellows are parts of the job Piers likes the most. It can be very rewarding he said.
“Listening is a really important part of being a porter. I remember helping a student who felt she’d been singled out by some others in her first week here. I told her that she was here because of her academic record and deserved to be here, whatever anyone else said. Years later, on her graduation day, she and her father came up to me and shook my hand – she said she’d never forgotten what I’d told her that day.
“I think that’s one thing that’s a privilege: you see them the day they start, right through to the day they finish.”
Outside of work Piers loves football, and Chelsea Football Club in particular. He’s managed to combine that with another passion: writing.
“I keep a diary and I like to write whenever I can. I’ve written for the Chelsea fanzine and I’ve been to more than 840 games around the world to support them!” If he’d not been a porter, Piers would have loved to have become a sports journalist.
Now approaching his 65th birthday Piers reflects on why he’s been at Trinity Hall for so long: “No two days are the same and Trinity Hall has always had a reputation for being ‘the friendly college’.”