A LEADING lecturer is moving on to new challenges, hoping to spread traditional letter-making around the world.

The University of Sunderland Programme Leader for MA Design, Dr Manny Ling will be leaving his academic post for pastures new in Vietnam.

Dr Ling made it his mission to create a calligraphy hub in Sunderland and set up the region’s International Research Centre for Calligraphy (IRCC).

Now, after 22 years, Dr Ling will take up a new post with the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, based in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.

It’s a decision he admits is bittersweet, Dr Ling said: “I have really enjoyed my time at Sunderland and have some incredible memories, but an opportunity has arisen and I felt the time was right to take up the next challenge in life.”

“I have really enjoyed my time at Sunderland, the people here are so nice, supportive and friendly.

"I have worked with many colleagues right across our faculties over the years, and it’s been incredibly rewarding.

"I have seen so many students graduate over the years and I’ve been lucky enough to keep in touch with many of them, some now have their own families and have forged wonderful careers for themselves.”

Dr Ling emigrated with his family to the North East from Hong Kong almost 40 years ago, living in London with his wife Sue, teaching at the London College of Printing, among others.

Since then the 54-year-old has achieved many milestones in his career, including setting up the IRCC at Sunderland, which will now be taken over by the University’s Professor Ewan Clayton.

Dr Ling believes Sunderland has now firmly established itself as an international centre for calligraphy.

He said: “We developed the IRCC at the University and since 1999 we have been hosting regular international calligraphy conferences, attracting calligraphers and academics from across the world.

"They come to Sunderland for master classes, as well as lectures and seminars to discuss the serious issues surrounding the art.

“As a result of our efforts, Sunderland is now perceived globally as the centre for calligraphy development.

“You only have to look back at Sunderland’s history at St Peter’s and the writings of the monastic scholar Bede, who studied calligraphy, to realise how connected this area is to this art form.”