Belfast Telegraph

Ex-student returns to Belfast to seek tankard's owner after 50 years

By Harriet Crawford

An Iranian man has returned to Belfast to return a silver tankard he has mistakenly had in his possession for more than half a century.

Just a few months ago, Arzhic Basirov (76) discovered a mysterious silver tankard from the Queen's University Air Squadron in among his university snooker championship trophies.

Mr Basirov has made the journey to Belfast from London with the sole purpose of returning the drinking vessel to its rightful owner.

"I very openly say to the owner that I am sorry that it is yours and it ended up with me."

In 1962, he arrived in Belfast from Iran to study civil engineering at Queen's University.

Mr Basirov - known as Arzhane Basir while at Queen's - has no recollection of how the tankard came into his possession.

He was never a member of the Air Squadron although he remembers spending many evenings in the Air Squadron members' club with friends.

The tankard was most likely swept up by Mr Basirov during an evening of drinking, before being packed up with the rest of his belongings and carted over to the Persian Gulf when he left Queen's in 1967.

He told the Belfast Telegraph: "I have come to Belfast just for the tankard. It was such a strong urge that I should I return it to the original owner."

The original owner, he estimates, would now be around 75 years old. "I am absolutely sure that one of the relatives of the original owner of this will come back and say 'Yes, this is my dad's'.

"I do not know how I it ended up with me. Somehow it moved from the Air Squadron to my room. It must have been on a drunken night, because we used to have some fantastic nights.

"It was a very polite and lovely gentleman's club. The only thing that concerned me was to go there and have cheap drinks!

"It was very cheap - threepence for a Scotch, I remember it."

He discovered the mystery tankard among other belongings a few months ago. "It was dirty and my wife had put it next to the cups I had won for being university snooker champion; she thought it was my trophy. Suddenly last week, I was asking what the tankard was - I never knew I had that!"

The former president of Queen's Elms remembers his university days with affection, including the bi-weekly 'hop' dances and nightly black tie dinners.

"I could almost cry, Queen's was such a fantastic time. It was just perfect - the Sixties meant freedom of everything and you met good people."

Anyone who can lay claim to the tankard can contact Arzhic Basirov, formerly Arzhane Basir, on 020 8998 9495/ 07767 660800 or email

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