Chemists' Dinner: Thursday, 7th Jan 2016
Activities of the (Ch)3 Affinity Group so far:
You will almost certainly have heard by now that an “affinity group” has been set up to promote the interests of alumni of Christ Church who read Chemistry there, or who carried out research in Chemistry under the umbrella of Christ Church as their graduate college. In the interests of brevity, we shorten “Christ Church Chemists” to (Ch)3 in what follows, so that our affinity group is the (Ch)3 AG.
Christ Church Chemists: how those words roll off the tongue! What are the objectives of the (Ch)3 AG? (Ch)3 have a reputation well beyond the walls of The House, and even outside the boundaries of the University of Oxford. Of course, for centuries (Ch)3 have been making important contributions to scientific research and understanding, and those activities continue to this day, with some members of the research community being of the highest distinction. But (Ch)3 are also renowned for the special nature of the team of more junior members. There is a unusually strong cohesion amongst our undergraduates and graduates, with the glue not being entirely alcohol-based, but where social activities do offer a common theme. The (Ch)3 behave in some ways like a close-knit family, where there is a team spirit of playfulness, of helpfulness in times of adversity; and admiration and true mutual celebration in times of success. It is worth pointing out that this kind of internal relationship is rare within the University, and perhaps unique to Christ Church and Chemistry. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Martin Grossel, who from the first days of his association with Christ Church fostered this team interaction amongst the chemists with his own warm hospitality in Blue Boar, and his initiatives such as the Chemists’ annual dinners in the McKenna Room and Christmas Parties, both functions often accompanied by games or small cabarets and other theatrical performances that offered opportunities for bonding.
Over the course of the past few years, there have been several milestones such as significant birthdays and retirements that have been marked by Chemistry Dinners that have proved both successful and popular. After each of these events, several of our alumni have told their former Tutors and Lecturers how much they appreciated the occasions, with the opportunity these events provided to interact with old friends and colleagues. A repeated theme was that, in some ways, such “subject reunions” were more welcome than the conventional “year Gaudies”, with the clear implication that more such social events should be mounted on a regular basis. To test the strength of interest, Fiona Holdsworth (1981) devised a survey that went out during September 2013, and attracted an unusually strong response (51%) that demonstrated quite clearly a considerable enthusiasm for the fostering of the kind of activities that had been suggested. Several respondents indicated that they were keen to help, directly in practical aspects, or with generating ideas for the group. The Affinity Group was therefore considered to be effectively in existence, and an ad hoc Steering Committee (SC) was set up. This committee has Martin Grossel as its Chairman, an obvious choice in view of his knowledge both of the Chemistry alumni and the college, and with Ann Holloway (1989) as the Secretary. The Christ Church Development Office (DO) has provided much help, and Fiona Holdsworth, an editor of Christ Church Matters, is both a vital link with the DO and a leading light in fostering the interests of the AG. Pete Biggs (1978) has provided us with enormous assistance with IT matters, setting up the survey online, and even obtaining our own internet domain and setting up our web site and the soon to be launched bulletin board. The SC thanks all those people most warmly.
To date, there have been four meetings of the SC (October 2013, January, March and May 2014), the most recent being convened on 10 May 2014. The members of the SC are currently (arranged by year of matriculation): David Dunmur (1959); Ian Jones (1964); Richard Wayne (1965); Tony Law (1965); Graham Allatt (1967); David Franks (1973); Martin Grossel (1973); Simon Hall (1975); David Wheeler (1978); Nick Allen (1979); George Marston (1980); Fiona Holdsworth (1981); Mike Tuddenham (1983); Alex Ashcroft (1985); Ann Holloway (Kiddle, 1989); Judith Fox (1989); Sarah Allatt (1996); Charlie Vincent (2000); Sean Murray (2000); Craig Mills (2001); Alex Robinson (2002); Irene Summers (2003); Kiri Stevens (2004); Alex Drong (2006); Tristan Smart (2006); Will Peveler (2007); Leia Clancy (Development Office) and, ex officio, the current Tutors in Chemistry (Jason Davis and Dirk Aarts).
The members of the SC were initially selected on the basis of the names of those who, in response to the Survey, volunteered to help, and to attempt to give as wide a spread as possible across the decades of matriculation.
The photograph shows the SC at its most recent meeting, with Chairman Martin Grossel on the far left (clockwise from Grossel: Franks, Holloway, Fox, Dunmur, Jones, Sarah Allatt, Graham Allatt, Peveler, Robinson).
Please use your Affinity Group! Attend events as often as you can, suggest new events that we might mount, help with the organisation of them if you can, dine on High Table as entitled Old Members, use the web site and the Bulletin Board, and generally continue to enjoy the privileges of being a member of a distinguished group of alumni of our college.