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Bill Neely

Bill Neely with History students during a visit to Queen's University Belfast in October 2009

"I loved history at school, so once offered the chance to do Honours at Queens I jumped at it. I was in the History department from 1977-81 - or rather half in it, as I took Joint Honours History and English. I loved it. Not all of it, mind. Irish history was not my favourite, especially as it was compulsory. I'd just done too much of it at school, though I ended up doing well in it in my Finals. My favourite course was seventeenth century English history, with a fantastic tutor, who also eventually helped me with Medieval history as I struggled with it a few weeks from Finals. Back then, it was ten exams in nine days. No marks for coursework; no continuous assessment. That was hard. It was also a bit of a mountain doing Joint Honours English and History. So much to read. But I loved it, got a decent 2.1 and a Departmental Prize at the end of it.

I have found my study of History (and English) so useful in my career. In fact it's been the bedrock of all I do. Within eight years of graduating I was in Berlin, covering the fall of the Wall. I remember, as the deadline for News At Ten approached, being encouraged by my editor to "just write it long"; to give a sense of how historic this was, to tell the public what this meant for Europe. There's no doubt that a thorough grounding in history allowed me to do that easily. Studying history gives us a lifelong sense of where we've been, how our world has come about and what mistakes we've made in the past. I'm not sure it prevents us making more; each generation makes its own. But the perspective is invaluable."

Bill Neely, International Editor, ITV News