Jimmy Kelly

Jimmy Kelly

BA (Hons) Politics 1998

Students’ Union President 1996/97

Jimmy Kelly, 39, from Wakefield, is Head of Direct Channels at HSBC Expat. Based in Jersey in the Channel Islands, the Sunderland graduate looks after the retail channels for HSBC’s international business- call centres, online banking, new customer teams, email handling and social media.

In his free time, he is also a Performance Coach working with sports teams and business to improve their mental strength.

“I was recently part of the coaching staff for the Jersey Women’s Football Team who won Gold at the 2015 NatWest Island Games,” he said. 

Jimmy was the Students’ Union President during the Academic year 1996/97, an experience that he can’t forget.

He said: “I loved my time as President of the Students’ Union. The variety was incredible, one minute we were answering questions about policy at a Student Council, the next talking to the local radio station about student safety on campus, and at the end of the day drinking in Manor Quay.”

During his tenure Jimmy achieved ‘a thousand little things’, as he puts it, such as representing students in numerous university committees including the Board of Governors, bringing in new service standards for all their commercial activities for the first time, a new fleet of mini-buses, helping support hundreds of students with academic and personal challenges and, last but not least, keeping the price of beer down.

The Students’ Union Handbook 1996/97 reflects this in one of its pages: “In a survey of prices in popular student pubs around Sunderland conducted last year, USSU’s bar prices were found to be around 40% cheaper”.

However, the achievement that stands out for him was successfully lobbying the University to change a decision regarding closing the halls of residence mid-term.

“It didn’t make the headlines, but the heart felt thank you letters I got from both students and their parents was special,” he said.

On the other side, his biggest challenge as a President was the tuition fees.

He said: “I was President during a time when Sir Ron Dearing was undertaking his review of higher education funding.  I had the pleasure of meeting him when he visited the North East.

“My biggest challenge was that while I personally felt that some form of tuition fees were inevitable, and therefore we should engage with the review from a point of negotiating and minimising the impact, the student population felt differently and passed a motion at the Annual General Meeting to campaign for no fees and full grants at 1979 levels. 

“So, I was bound to pass that message on to Sir Ron. That’s democracy!”

Asked about his abiding memory of Sunderland and his time living in the City, Jimmy commented: “If I’m honest, the lasting memory will be the state of the houses I lived in. The same group of mates for four years, and none of us ever learned the art of cleaning!

“Seriously, the friends I made at Sunderland will literally last a lifetime.  Two of them were best men at my wedding. One now lives in Perth, Australia and I went with my wife and children to visit him at Christmas last year”.

He concluded: “The bars were also an important part of the student life. The usual route would include Wearmouth Bar, Fitzgeralds and then, depending on the night, Chambers, Annabel’s, Pzzaz - but 80% of the time, it was Manor Quay.”

Click here to read the Students' Handbook 96/97

Students Handbook 96 97

Jimmy Kelly

University of Sunderland

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