e-Matters - April 2022

Dear Members and Friends,

Welcome to this edition of e-Matters, written while a snow shower swirls around Peck.  Here’s hoping spring returns soon.

In this edition, the Censors update you on the Governance review, particularly the executive search for an independent chair of the review panel which will be advertised next week.  There is also news on the Christ Church Association Constitution consultation and the AGM of the Association. 

As ever, we are delighted to share with you news and achievements of members of the Christ Church community.  Our congratulations go to Riz Ahmed (2001, PPE) on his Oscar for best live-action short film and to Dr Becky Smethurst (Junior Research Fellow) on her Royal Astronomical Society Research Fellowship. Read on for more details. 

We also report on recent events, including two reunions welcoming back the years of 1960, 1961, 1962, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1990, 1991, 1992 and 2002, and our first Returners’ Dinner, welcoming back those who left Christ Church last year.  It was great to see you all!   Some events for next term are featured too and we hope that you will find something of interest. 

We’ll be back in touch next term.  In the meantime, Happy Easter!  Please do drop us a line if you would like any of your news to appear in our next edition of e-Matters. 

With all best wishes,

Philippa Roberts
Development Director


News from the House

Message from the Censors

Dear Members and Friends,

We are committed to informing you about our progress in reviewing our governance and processes, and we write to let you know that we will shortly be advertising for the appointment of an independent Chair of our Governance Review.

The Governing Body of Christ Church will commission this Review to ensure that Christ Church’s statutes, by-laws, and governance arrangements meet the needs of the institution as a constituent college of the University of Oxford in the 21st century.

The last comprehensive review of the foundation’s statutes was conducted in 2011. The Review will encompass the governance arrangements of all aspects of Christ Church, including the Cathedral, College, and School.

We now seek to appoint an independent Chair, an individual with no current or recent connection with Christ Church, who will, having consulted Governing Body, Chapter and other parties,  prepare a report setting out recommendations for the Governing Body to consider.

Christ Church has committed to publish the Review in full in 2023.

We will share the details of the appointed Chair as soon as we are able.

It has been a pleasure to see so many of you back at Christ Church for reunions this month and we look forward to meeting more Members and friends at events next term.

Prof Sarah Foot, Censor Theologiae
Prof Dirk Aarts, Senior Censor
Prof Kevin McGerty, Junior Censor


Christ Church Association Consultation

A consultation paper has gone out to all Christ Church Association members to hear your views on a revised Constitution of the CCA. 

The consultation was sent by email this week. If you have not received it, please do check your junk mail. For those not on email, letters will be sent out shortly. The deadline for your feedback is Wednesday 13th April. 

Please make a note of another CCA date for your diary: The AGM will take place on Saturday 21st May 2022. It will be an in-person meeting at Christ Church. More details will be announced shortly.

Tom Tower turns blue and yellow.

Christ Church turns blue and yellow in Ukraine charity drive

Following on from the last edition of e-Matters, we are pleased to announce that over £3,700 has been raised by members of the House past and present for the crisis in Ukraine.

Donations have been given to the Disasters Emergency Committee Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, which combines 13 charities' fundraising efforts and is being matched by the UK Government. 

Earlier this month, Christ Church's Tom Tower was lit up in blue and yellow in a show of solidarity with those suffering in the conflict.

Alumni, family, and friends are welcome to continue donating in any capacity they can to add to students’ contributions. The link to the fundraiser can be found here. 



Photo of Becky SmethurstDr Becky Smethurst awarded the 2022 RAS Research Fellowship

Congratulations to Dr Becky Smethurst who has been awarded the 2022 Royal Astronomical Society Research Fellowship. 

The purpose of the RAS Research Fellowships is to enable outstanding candidates to pursue research in the UK in the disciplines advanced by the RAS, such as astronomy, solar system science, geophysics and closely related branches of these sciences.

Dr Smethurst is a Junior Research Fellow at the House. Her research accomplishments include applying state-of-the-art statistical tools to dissect the evolutionary paths of galaxies in the Universe, using large datasets such as Galaxy Zoo and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. As well as communicating astrophysics and astronomy to the public via her YouTube channel, she also co-hosts the Supermassive Podcast along with science journalist Izzie Clarke.

Dr Smethurst plans to use the fellowship to continue her work on understanding supermassive black holes. She said, “I’m absolutely thrilled to be awarded the RAS fellowship so I can continue my work studying merger-free growth of supermassive black holes. My recent work has shown that unlike previously thought, the majority of supermassive black holes grow due to processes internal to a galaxy, but we still don’t understand how that happens yet! So I’m ready and raring to get stuck in and find out how during my tenure with the RAS fellowship."

Dr Smethurst's website can be found here.


Photo of Leah BroadDr Leah Broad: Quartet

Dr Leah Broad, Junior Research Fellow in Music, is currently working on her first book, Quartet, a group biography of four twentieth-century women composers: Ethel Smyth, Rebecca Clarke, Dorothy Howell and Doreen Carwithen. It will be published by Faber & Faber in 2023.


As part of the book launch, Leah is collaborating with The New London Orchestra to present a series of three concerts celebrating the four women composers. The aim of the project is to increase public awareness of these composers and their work, with the hope of increasing performances of their music.

The concerts will take place at London’s Southbank Centre over two days in Spring 2023, coinciding with the release of Leah’s biography. Two of the concerts (Friday and Saturday evening) will be orchestral concerts in the Queen Elizabeth Hall. The third (Saturday afternoon) will be a chamber concert in the Purcell Room. On the Saturday afternoon, Leah and other historians will give talks as part of the Southbank Centre’s series of Study Days.

Further details will be released soon, and more information on Leah's project can be found on her website.



From the Cathedral Music Trust...

ChoristersOn 18 March, the Christ Church Cathedral Choir joined forces with the choirs of New College and Magdalen College and Instruments of Time and Truth to celebrate the centuries-long tradition of musical excellence at Oxford’s three choral foundations.  After so many cancellations and disruptions to live choral music in the past two years, it was a delight to have more than 90 voices supported by a full baroque orchestra performing for a sold out Sheldonian Theatre. Music is once again very much alive and well in Oxford!

On 3 May, the Cathedral Choir sings joint Evensong with the Choir of the Chapel Royal, Hampton Court.  The service in the Cathedral will be preceded by a special viewing of Tudor treasures in the Upper Library, including original manuscript scores by Thomas Tallis and William Byrd, Elizabeth I’s Psalter, and Cardinal Wolsey’s Epistle Lectionary.  Evensong will be followed by a drinks reception and buffet dinner.  Booking information for the free viewing and pricing for dinner can be found online here.

In 5th Week of Trinity (22-27 May), the Cathedral Choir will be on tour in Sweden.  Alumni, friends, and supporters of the Music Trust are invited to come along to take part in a programme of specially planned activities, including a boat tour of the archipelago on which the choir will sing, a private tour of the Stockholm Modern Art Museum, and a special talk on the hidden impact of Swedish modern design on Cold War politics.


Meeting Minds Global - April 2022

 Clockwise from Top Left: Professor Simon Dadson, Dr Cristina Neagu (Keeper of Special Collections); Gabriel Sewell (College Librarian); The Cathedral Choir.Christ Church will be taking part in the University's Meeting Minds Global from 6th to 8th April. Once again, this event will be held online, allowing alumni from all over the world to participate.

In this year's Meeting Minds Global, we will be delving into the causes of and solutions to Britain's flood problem, exploring the newly acquired special collections and manuscripts of the Upper Library, and immersing ourselves in the harmonious melodies of the choirs of Christ Church.

Our keynote speakers include Gabriel Sewell, College Librarian, Dr Cristina Neagu, Keeper of Special Collections, and Professor Simon Dadson, Official Student and Tutor in Geography, and Professor in Physical Geography at the University of Oxford.



Alumni Regional Events in Spring

Spring is finally upon us, so we are writing with a reminder for the two regional events we are hosting in the coming months, which will be filled with flowers, food, and friends. 

The first is a trip to Morton Hall Gardens and White Cottage on Tuesday 26th April, and the second is a weekend visit to Hereford and Hergest on Saturday 14th – Sunday 15th May.
Both events will be wonderful opportunities to connect with fellow House members in beautiful (and hopefully sunny!) settings. Further details including itineraries, costs, and booking links can be found on our Events page.



A warm welcome back to the House –
The Reunion Dinners for matriculates of 1960,61,62,70,71,72,80,81,82,90,92,92,02 (!)

Reunion DinnerWe were thrilled to host two Reunion Dinners over the last two weekends, with alumni and their guests being welcomed back to the House for decennial celebrations. 

Matriculates from 1960, 1961, 1970, 1971, 1980, 1981, 1990 and 1991 were able to attend their much-delayed celebration on Saturday 19th March whilst those from 1962, 1972, 1982, 1992 and 2002 joined us on Friday 25th. Both events included  evensong, a drinks reception featuring the excellent House English sparkling wine in the Thatched Barn, a spectacular 4-course dinner in Hall, and the chance to reminisce after dinner in the Buttery.

A great debt of gratitude is owed to all who enable these events to happen; many behind the scenes. Of course, our greatest thanks go to all of you for helping to create such a thriving Christ Church community. We hope to see you all again soon. The photos taken by our wonderful student helpers will be made available on our new platform, Christ Church Connections, which will be launched next month. 



Returner's Dinner2021 Leavers: The Returners' Dinner

We were delighted to host the 2021 leavers for a dinner in Hall on Saturday, in recognition of their Leavers' Gift. 

Leavers donated £15.46 each towards the Gift, with 97% of the year’s cohort contributing. That sum was generously matched by Samuel Robinson (1991) and Nat Greene (1991).

The dinner was a thank you to all the Leavers for their donation, and an opportunity for them to reunite and enjoy one another's company following their socially distanced Schools Dinner in Trinity 2021. Wine and conversation flowed throughout, and a speech by Katy Holland (2017) was followed by further celebrations, drinks, and dancing in the Undercroft.

In the future each cohort of Leavers will be invited back to dine in Hall on the Saturday of 9th Week of the Hilary term in the year after they have gone down.


The Christopher Ainsley Memorial Bench

Christopher Ainsley Memorial BenchThe Christopher Ainsley Memorial Bench has been placed in Christ Church Meadows, opposite the Jubilee Bridge to which he generously contributed.

Family and friends of Christopher Ainsley (1976) met to celebrate his life, see the wonderful new bench, and the copse of trees, which has been planted on the approach to the Bridge, and were given in his memory.



News from Alumni


Riz Ahmed wins OscarRiz Ahmed (2001) wins Oscar

Riz Ahmed (2001, PPE) won the Academy Award for Best Live-Action Short Film this weekend, for 'The Long Goodbye.'

Co-created by Riz and Aneil Karia, 'The Long Goodbye' depicts Riz and his family at home preparing for a wedding whilst a far-right march plays out on the telly in the background. Eventually arriving at their front door, the march leads to a devastating outcome. You can watch the film for free on YouTubePlease note that the film contains depictions of racist violence. 

The 12-minute film was inspired by Riz's 2020 concept album of the same name, which looks at Britain’s post-Brexit relationship with South Asians and British Asians using the metaphor of an abusive relationship. 

In his acceptance speech, Riz dedicated his award to anyone "who feels like they don’t belong,” stating that "We believe that the role of the story is to remind us there is no us and them. There’s just us." Riz made history last year as the first Muslim nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role for 'The Sound of Metal,' in which he played a drummer losing his hearing.

Congratulations Riz!



Book cover of Within the LawMichael de la Bastide (1956): Within The Law, Memoirs of a Caribbean Jurist

"Within The Law, Memoirs of a Caribbean Jurist" is an autobiography of Former Chief Justice The Right Honourable Michael De La Bastide, T.C, Honorary Student of Christ Church.

The biography encapsulates the life story of Michael de la Bastide, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Trinidad and Tobago. It maps Michael's childhood memories, sporting achievements, his climb to success as a barrister, judge and passion to continue serving as a humanitarian since he retired as president of the Caribbean Court of Justice in 2011.

It was researched and written by Justice Kathy Ann Waterman Latchoo. Within the Law is revealing, intriguing and well flavoured with the delightful wit that Michael was known to dispense, both on and off the bench. 

Limited copies available. All profits go to The Children’s Ark, a registered, non profit, charitable organization that caters to the needs of marginalized children in Trinidad & Tobago. 


Book cover of Teaching Self-Compassion to TeensDr Niina Tamura (2008): Teaching Self-Compassion to Teens

Dr Niina Tamura (2002) introduces her new book Teaching Self-Compassion to Teens:

Adolescence is a time of tremendous growth and creativity, and of unique challenges. Many young people struggle as a result. Self-compassion -  meeting oneself with kindness in difficult times - is increasingly being recognised as a powerful psychological resource.

Our book presents an in-depth materials and guidance for teaching mindfulness and self-compassion to teens and young adults in clinical, educational, or community settings. We provide guided meditations, creative exercises, and teaching strategies adapted from Kristin Neff and Christopher Germer’s widely disseminated Mindful Self-Compassion programme for adults. Case examples, sample dialogues, and teaching points illustrate how to set up and run successful groups that address adolescent concerns such as self-criticism, social comparison, and strong emotions. The materials can also be used in one-on-one settings such as counselling or psychotherapy.

The book offers guidelines for cultivating a personal practice and working with parents. Tips for providing a safe, effective learning environment are woven throughout, with a special chapter covering trauma-sensitive teaching.

Teaching Self Compassion to Teens is coming in April 2022. Click here to pre-order your copy.




Sir William Fittall: 26 July 1953 – 10 March 2022

Photo of Sim William FittallSir William Fittall (1972) died on 10th March 2022, aged 68.

Sir William entered the Home Office after reading French and Latin at the House. After 27 years as a civil servant, the culmination of his career was working for 13 years, until 2015, as Secretary-General of the Archbishops’ Council and the General Synod. 

In 2018, Sir William succeeded Sir Philip as Independent Reviewer for the Resolution of Disputes Procedure concerning the Bishops’ Declaration on the pastoral care of those unable to receive the ministry of women as bishops and priests.

In his civil service career, Sir William was involved in the daily management of the Northern Ireland peace process. He had first become involved with Northern Ireland in 1992. As he entered Belfast city centre on his first visit, following behind the car of the Northern Ireland Secretary, Peter Brooke, there was an enormous explosion.

He was made a Knight Bachelor in 2016 for services to the Church of England.

Click here to read Sir William Fittall's obituary on Telegraph. Please note that this obituary is behind a paywall.



Other News

BIPOC STEM Network - Mentor Recruitment

BIPOC STEM logoThe University of Oxford’s BIPOC STEM Network is launching its flagship Mentorship Programme, THRIVE, for postgraduate students of colour in Oxford STEMM, and applications are open for prospective mentors.

Applications are welcome from a wide array of current academics and non-academic professionals who also identify as Black, Indigenous & People of Colour (BIPOC) or Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic (BAME), and a postgraduate degree is not a requirement for mentors.

Mentor backgrounds could include, but are not limited to: 

  • postdoctoral research associates
  • research fellows
  • permanent academic staff
  • consultants
  • industry scientists
  • civil servants
  • employees of NGOs and startups
  • CEOs and entrepreneurs

Mentors will receive training for the year-long programme and will meet with their mentees every 1-2 months. Meetings might include career and applications advice, sharing experiences of navigating a professional/academic environment as a Person Of Colour, signposting mentees to available resources, and providing information about the Oxford system if applicable. Mentors will be invited to attend a number of talks, receptions and dinners held in Oxford over the course of the programme.

The aim of THRIVE is to support postgraduates in their research and future endeavours, while generally promoting well-being. At present, BAME students are vastly underrepresented in academia. In 2019 in the UK, BAME students accounted for 30% of all undergraduates, but fewer than 8% of the ~1,200 PhD students funded by the Medical Research Council, and just 1% of PhD students funded by the Natural Environmental Research Council in 2015-16 identified as Black. Beyond postgraduate studies, 2016 data shows that of 8,300 professors in the UK working in science, engineering and technology, only 35 (0.004%) were Black.

Programmes such as THRIVE offer important representation to students. If young, aspiring undergraduate and graduate students see more people that look like them in places they want to be, they’ll be inspired to strive for what seems attainable, and we hope that Christ Church alumni can contribute to this scheme. 

To find out more about the mentorship scheme, please contact bipoc.network@mpls.ox.ac.uk.

To apply please click here.

Deadline: 22nd April


Tony Walton Obituary - Oscar-winning set and costume designer, much of whose early work featured the House

Photo of Tony WaltonTony Walton (24 October 1934 - 2 March 2022) was a legendary set and costume designer, who began his career putting on plays in the Christ Church gardens.

As a 16-year-old student at Radley College, Walton led a group of theatre students putting on a series of marionette shows in locations including the gardens of the House. Performances ranged from Vaudeville to Gilbert and Sullivan, and Mozart's The Magic Flute, and Walton both designed and built stage sets, and the hands and heads of the marionettes.

He spent two years of mandatory military training with the Royal Air Force, as a trainee pilot in Ontario, Canada, before his career break designing the set for Noël Coward's 1957 off-Broadway production of Conversation Piece. Throughout the late 1950s and early 1960s, Walton designed for the New York and London stage, and he entered the motion pictures business when Julie Andrews, his then-wife, showed his portfolio to Walt Disney.

Walton went on to design the set and costumes for Mary Poppins (1964), Murder on the Orient Express (1974), and The Wiz (1978), each garnering him an Oscar nomination. His work on All That Jazz (1979) won him the Oscar for Best Art Direction, and he received three Tony Awards for his work on Pippin (1973), House of Blue Leaves (1986), and Guys and Dolls (1992). 

Christ Church are proud to continue this legacy of supporting student drama, highlighted by last summer's performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the Cathedral Garden. Directed by Katy Holland (2017) and produced by Nick Phipps (2017), the play was enabled through alumni's generosity in contributing to the Covid-19 Student Support Fund. We hope to see many more thespians from the House! 


Would you like to contribute to e-Matters? Get in touch! 

If you would like to contribute to our e-Matters newsletter please email development.office@chch.ox.ac.uk for more information. 

For more news articles and information please see our e-Matters webpage.