‘A lot has changed’ – Norwegian friends return to Sunderland to mark 50 years since graduation

Former Sunderland Polytechnic students, Norwegian's Ole Kobbe, Rolf Stene, Erik Dullerud and Steinar Hartvig Hanssen
Former Sunderland Polytechnic students, Norwegian's Ole Kobbe, Rolf Stene, Erik Dullerud and Steinar Hartvig Hanssen
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It might be 50 years since they left Sunderland, but for a group of former students the memories are still very much alive.

Four pals from Norway returned to Wearside to mark the golden anniversary since they graduated with Durham University degrees in engineering from the then-Sunderland Technical College.

Ole Kobbe, 73, Erik Dullerud, 75, Steinar Hartvig Hanssen, 75, and 76-year-old Rolf Stene, were delighted to be back on city soil and paid a visit to the University of Sunderland’s St Peter’s Campus.

All four said they loved their years studying and having fun in Sunderland and were delighted when Steinar brought them together with the idea of the reunion.

He said: “I think it was an age thing, I thought we should do this before we are all gone.”

Erik, who has lived in Canada for almost 50 years, said: “We had some fantastic times in Sunderland.

“Some things still look the same, but a lot has changed. The city is looking beautiful now and I hope the people who live here appreciate it.”

Ole said: “The people of Sunderland were so friendly and welcoming. At first it was strange being called ‘love’ or ‘pet’ but you got used to it and realised their kindness really came from the heart.”

Rolf formed such a strong bond with the family he boarded with in Fulwell that they became like a second family and he has continued to return many times over the years to visit friends.

He said: “It became a second home to me.”

The friends stayed at The Roker Hotel during their five-day stay in the city, which 50 years ago was one of their favourite watering holes.

Erik said: “Our visit has been wonderful.”