Dedication to the course! Leeds grandfather Ken, 89, clocks up nearly 50 years studying German

Ken Knapton.
Ken Knapton.
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He’s the senior scholar who definitely wins top marks for dedication to his studies.

Ken Knapton, 89, has clocked up nearly 50 years learning German at Leeds Beckett University.

The grandfather-of-three is fluent in the language but still attends his weekly part-time classes to help him stay abreast of Germany’s politics and current affairs.

And next week his commitment will be recognised when he receives the Adela Bond Memorial Prize for Achievement in Modern Foreign Languages.

Adela, who passed away in 2015, was course leader of Leeds Beckett’s part-time language programme.

Ken, a former chemical engineer who lives in Headingley, said: “I started studying German back in 1968.

“I’ve always been very interested in European affairs and I’d studied German at school.

“Before joining, I’d started classes elsewhere, which were good – but really, what I wanted was something that was more current affairs based and that’s when I switched to Leeds Beckett, which at the time was known as Leeds Polytechnic.

“I’ve continued studying German with the university for all of these years because I enjoy it.

“And if you don’t keep on top of a language it’s easy to forget things, so I keep at it.”

Ken has gained a number of qualifications during his time at the university, including a degree in German and a diploma in European studies.

His current German teacher, Ulrike Hitchen, said: “Ken is a remarkable student. He always does his homework with great commitment, attends every lesson and is brilliant at the language.

“He has been the expert in the class on German politics and history. I don’t know anybody else who has studied German formally as long as he has – he is an inspiration and is truly deserving of this prize.”