Our family friendship

Created by Jun one year ago
My wife, Ding and I were one of the first 3000 students selected abroad for post graduate education from China in 1978. I was allocated to Civil Engineering, Imperial College where I studied under Professor Dowling. We had two years of studying as visiting scholars in the UK, and that was the start of our family’s friendship with Patrick’s family more than 40 years ago.
When we first arrived in the UK, our funds were very limited. We seldom attended social events, walked an hour to and from college every day. Never ate in the canteen, took instant noodles instead. Patrick saw this and invited us home for our first Christmas in the UK. Grace prepared a wonderful Christmas dinner, and we felt the warm Christmas atmosphere for the very first time. Patrick’s family were so caring and hospitable towards two students from China that we will never forget. After the dinner, Patrick invited us to stay the night, but we wanted to go back to London. It was already past the train time, so he paid a car ride for us to go home. I even feel a bit embarrassed now thinking about it. Patrick really was too kind. He was the head of Civil Engineering at Imperial, then the Chancellor of Surrey University, Fellow of Royal Society among other prominent titles. But he treated us as equals, easy to talk to, humorous and caring. During my two years of studying, he often let me took classes in other faculties and do internship at an UK company where I found employment later on. Patrick is a very noble man, and gladly helped many other students like myself. 
Years later, Patrick would became guardian to my son Jun, who studied at Bedford School from GCSE to A level, then Information System Engineering at Imperial. He stayed with Patrick’s family during all of the school holidays until his graduation. We were fortunate to visit Patrick’s family with our son’s family in 2018. I remember during our lunch together, we wished our friendship with Patrick’s family would carry on from generation to generation. Patrick is my dear teacher, mentor and my dear friend. May he rest in peace and we will always remember him with lots of love and fondness.
Xiaoli Shao
30th of May, 2023