University of Northampton’s oldest graduate Ernie Sharp has died, aged 93

Ernie Sharp
Ernie Sharp

The University of Northampton’s oldest graduate, Ernie Sharp, has died aged 93.

Mr Sharp completed a degree in waste management and pollution control at the university in 2002 before returning in 2010 to complete a masters in waste management, aged 88.

He was a fellow of the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) and started his career in London as a dustman before working up to the role of Assistant Director of the Greater London Council Operations Department.

When interviewed by the Chronicle and Echo in 2005, Mr Sharp said: “I’m very pleased with myself. I enjoyed doing the research degree. It was refreshing and encouraging and I learnt so much.

“It was a completely new experience for me to do something so academic. I found the most difficult part was learning what not to put in as I was accused of doing too much work. I’m more of a practical person so it was hard to become used to academia but I learned an awful lot and my professor guided me through. If I can do it with my background than it proves it’s never too late to stop learning.”

Dr Margaret Bates, manager of the Centre for Sustainable Wastes Management, commented: “After he enrolled in a distance learning course he got sucked into learning again. Everything he did he did properly and to the best of his ability. We got involved in all sorts of things because of our association with him and how considerate he was, and he always had a cheeky smile!”

In 2012 Ernie appeared on the BBC’s Secret Life of Rubbish, which revealed tales from “old binmen” using archived footage that had never aired before on TV.