Anne Pőnisch & Victoria Tomlinson

Episode 177,   Sep 13, 2023, 12:05 PM

It was a huge privilege for my latest Nostalgia Interview to meet Anne Pőnisch and Vicky Tomlinson, daughters of John Roland Lloyd Thomas who was Principal of Saint David’s (University) College for nearly a quarter of a century from 1953 until the mid-1970s.

Anne and Vicky remember the days of living behind the College Chapel with its spiders, attics and cellars in an age when students wore academic gowns and had to be back home at around 10pm. They paint a fascinating picture of Lampeter from a different age.

We talk about how SDC was not just a theological college, and they remember how students would line up to see their father after supper. Their father enjoyed rugby and cricket and the pastoral side of being Principal was important to him. He did all the admissions work during his time as Principal as well as taking disciplinary measures.

They grew up knowing their father was a big fish in a small pond, and remember the diverse range of people they would encounter around the house.

We find how things were for their mother whose first husband died in the War, and they talk about how she did all the dinner parties and cooking, in those days. We find out why she didn’t let on that she was a Welsh speaker as well as why their father was keen to admit female students. This was an era when it wasn’t obvious the College would survive.

Vicky reminisces about once being kidnapped near Burgess Hall during Rag, and how there was once a This Is Your Life-type show arranged for their father in Lampeter’s Victoria Hall.

Anne and Vicky have many records from that era, including the letters that their father would write to them every weekend, and sermons and cine films. We also find out who they are in touch with from that era.

Anne and Vicky reflect on how much smaller things seemed when they returned to West Wales as young adults, and we talk about returning to the place of origin.

They remember when things changed in Lampeter, e.g. problems around drugs and the police having to be involved, and we learn how their father felt about retirement.

Towards the end of the interview, we find out whether they have followed in their parents’ footsteps at all and what their parents would have thought about the lives they have led. We learn that their father might not be happy about some developments in the Church, and what he might have thought of women priests, and they refer to the ‘lost souls’ that their father was keen to take in to Lampeter who might not have secured a place elsewhere.