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How did YMCA Fairthorne Group Trustee, Mike Cranston, achieve an MBA at the age of seventy-five?

In the early 1960s, going to university was not a family value within the working class. Therefore, as soon as Mike left school, he went straight out to work in an office. However, some life events during this time encouraged Mike to move forward in his learning:

  1. His office supervisor told him that he had more ability than he realised and that by studying for a qualification, he could move forward in his career.
  2. Becoming a Christian gave Mike a purpose in life.
  3. Joining the popular Christian Group “the Gospel Folk”. The first local church-based group to appear on BBC national radio in the 1960s.
  4. Meeting his future wife who encouraged him and supported him.

Mike said these events of encouragement, purpose, and belonging led him to start a journey of lifelong learning.


"Multiple methods and experiences contribute to our lifelong learning and their importance is personal to everyone" - Mike Cranston


Mike embarked on his academic study which led him to gain his accounting qualifications (FCCA, FCMA, and CGMA). This supported his career development from an office junior in 1964 to the Finance Director/Chief Financial Officer of (what is now known as) Ageas Insurance in 1978 at the age of thirty-one.

At the same time as qualifying as an accountant, he started studying to become a voluntary Licenced Lay Minister (LLM) of the Church of England. Once licenced he became one of only a few LLMs to gain the advanced Archbishops Diploma (ADipR). Recently he celebrated his 50th year in this role.

His interest in Christianity led him to gain some more understanding of his faith. This led him at the age of forty-one to start his university journey, where he gained Bachelor, Master, and Doctoral awards in Religious Studies and Theology (BA, MA, and PhD) over the next 23 years.

As he approached the age of fifty, he made a personal choice to spend some of his voluntary time helping younger people develop their understanding of Christianity and Ministry within the Church of England. This resulted in him serving for almost thirty years as a voluntary tutor for the Diocese of Winchester in conjunction with the University of Winchester and Durham University. This led him to become an Associate Fellow of the Higher Learning Academy (AFHLA).

After retiring at the age of fifty-eight, his life saw some changes. Mike started his journey with YMCA Fairthorne Group, and he had more time for church activities and family time. A year later, his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, and he rapidly learned how to be a nurse and a carer. Sadly, his wife died in 2018 of secondary breast cancer in the bones just after they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

A few months after his wife died, he had the honour of attending Windsor Castle where he received the ancient Maundy Money from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for services to the church and community. Whilst this was a great occasion for Mike, the real joy was to be part of a loving family and to serve others through his local church and the YMCA.

After two years of living by himself, he decided to do something that would keep his mind active. Mike enrolled in a Master of Business Administration Course for fun and personal enrichment and received the award at the age of 75 in 2022 (MBA). One of his great joys of the course was being with bright young people including his son who was also completing the course at the same time.

We asked Mike “What’s next?”. He replied, “To keep focussing on my faith, family, and friends and to continue learning for the rest of my life. Within that focussing on supporting Fairthorne Group whilst I am still able to will be one of my priorities”.

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