e-Matters - December 2022

Dear Members and Friends,

I have pleasure in introducing the last edition of e-Matters for 2022. Peckwater is looking suitably festive and we are looking forward to the Christmas break.  

In this edition, we report on an award for the beautiful restoration of the Chapter House, now the venue for regular events, on our visit earlier in the term to the US and on a recent musical event held jointly with the choir of HM Chapel Royal, Hampton Court.   

Read on to find out how research into Astrophysics and into Computational Science and Engineering has been recognised, and to discover some wide-ranging achievements of alumni, including the appointment of four new Honorary Students.  We have pleasure in reporting back on the recent Giving Day, with our thanks to all those who got involved and gave support.  

Thank you to those who emailed us following the Official Warning from the Charity Commission.  A response on this matter is included in this edition.  

A ‘Save the date’ email will be with you shortly, listing the events currently scheduled for the rest of the academic year and we hope very much to see you at one or more event in 2023.  Please note that the Development and Alumni Office will be closed between Thursday 23rd December 2022 and 2nd January 2023. Emails in response to this edition of e-Matters will be answered in the New Year.

With very best wishes,

Philippa Roberts

Development Director


News from the House


Dr Ben Fernando explores Mars meteorite smashes

Dr Ben FernandoChrist Church Access Fellow and Oxford InSight geophysicist Dr Ben Fernando, appeared in multiple news outlets this term with analysis of two Mars meteorite impacts.

Taking data from two Nasa missions, the InSight team discovered that Mars is home to more subsurface ice than previously thought.

“The larger impact made a crater about 150 metres across — one and a half times the size of London’s Trafalgar Square — and a blast zone around 35km across, which would cover most of the area inside the M25,” Dr Fernando told the Financial Times.

“I think we were a little surprised to find ice that close to the equator,” he said. 

The team detected the event using the seismometer on the US space agency's InSight lander and then identified the impact sites with the use of Nasa's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter satellite.

Dr Fernando told the BBC: "InSight's observations in the transition zone between the North and the South have been really valuable because clearly the crust evolved in very different ways in those regions of the planet," he told BBC News.

"How and why they developed the way they did is still an open question, but I think these impact events have probably provided more understanding on this topic than anything else we've done so far on the mission."

In addition to his research on numerical high-performance computing simulations of seismic waves, Dr Ben Fernando is also Christ Church’s Access Fellow, responsible for programmes helping state school students and students from Black, Asian, or Minority Ethnic backgrounds discover whether Oxford might be for them.


Dr Kaibo Hu awarded SIAM Early Career Prize in Computational Science and Engineering


Dr Kaibo HuDr Kaibo Hu, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Christ Church, has been awarded the SIAM Early Career Prize in Computational Science and Engineering for his "contributions to the finite element exterior calculus, particularly structure-preserving numerical algorithms for magnetohydrodynamics.”

Dr Hu, who is also a Royal Society University Research Fellow in Oxford Mathematics, is a numerical analyst whose current research is on numerical methods for partial differential equations that preserve certain topological, geometric and physical structures of continuous problems in numerical computation.

Kaibo will be awarded the prize at the 2022 SIAM Conference on Computational Science and Engineering (CSE23), in Spring 2023 in Amsterdam, where he will give a plenary lecture.

This biannual prize is given to an outstanding early career researcher whose work makes a significant research contribution to the development and use of mathematical and computational tools and methods for the solution of science and engineering problems.


Christ Church Chapter House wins Oxford Preservation Trust Award

Purcell’s conservation of the Grade I listed Chapter House at Christ Church Cathedral has won a prestigious Oxford Preservation Trust Award for building conservation. Christ Church worked with Cliveden Conservation to carefully upgrade this significant building, to improve its accessibility and ensure its continued protection. The Chapter House is now fully open and in regular use for a wide range of events.

James Lawrie, Treasurer of Christ Church, said:

“Christ Church is delighted that the thirteenth-century Chapter House has been restored to its former glory for use by the Cathedral and the rest of Christ Church.”


Read the full article on Christ Church website.


Election of new Honorary Students

New Honorary Students

Clockwise: Howard Goodall (1976, Music), Dr Henrietta Hughes (1987, Medicine),The Rt Honorable Sir Nicholas Patten (1969, Law) and Dame Joanna Smith (1986, Law).

Christ Church’s Governing Body has elected four  new Honorary Students, as part of a tradition dating back to 1858. The newly-elected Honoraries are Howard Goodall (1976, Music), Dr Henrietta Hughes (1987, Medicine), The Rt Honorable Sir Nicholas Patten (1969, Law) and Dame Joanna Smith (1986, Law).

Howard Goodall read Music at Christ Church where he gained a first-class degree.  He is an EMMY, BRIT and BAFTA award-winning composer of choral music, stage musicals, film and TV scores. 

In recent years he has been England’s first ever National Ambassador for Singing, the Classical Brit Composer of the Year and was Classic FM’s Composer-in-Residence for 6 years. In the 2011 New Year Honours he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to music education.


Dr Henrietta Hughes came up to the house in 1987 to study Medicine before completing her Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery at St Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical School. After initial training in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, she embarked on a career in General Practice, eventually joining a practice in London. She developed an interest in management within the NHS and held the position of Medical Director for much of London from 2013 until July 2016, when she was appointed National Guardian for the NHS. Dr Hughes received an OBE in the 2020 New Year Honours List for her work in this role, providing leadership, training and advice for a network of Freedom to Speak Up Guardians who promote transparency and accountability across all NHS trusts.


The Rt Honorable Sir Nicholas Patten came up to the House in 1969 to read Law.  He was called to the bar (Lincoln’s Inn) in 1974 and made a Bencher in 1997.  In 2000, he was appointed to the High Court of Justice, receiving a knighthood.  In 2009, Sir Nicholas became a Lord Justice of appeal and was appointed to the Privy Council.  He retired in 2020.  Nicholas taught at Christ Church in his early years at the Bar, as a 'weekender', and has remained a very close friend of Law at Christ Church ever since. 


Dame Joanna Smith is the first female former Christ Church law undergraduate to become a High Court Judge, following an extremely distinguished career as a junior barrister and as a QC. She was called to the bar at Lincoln’s Inn in 1990, practising commercial, professional negligence and construction law.  She took silk in 2009 was appointed a deputy High Court Judge in 2017.  She was appointed to the Chancery Division of the High Court in January 2021, receiving the customary damehood. 


Giving Day

Giving Day

Over 36 hours on November 29th-30th, Christ Church held its first ever Giving Day, raising money for a Refugee Academic Futures Scholarship. Thanks to the generosity of the whole Christ Church community, we have raised a total of £76,000 which, coupled with the funding from Governing Body, will ensure the full course fees and stipend for a refugee graduate student to undertake a DPhil here in Oxford. 


The entire Christ Church community got involved – alumni, SCR, GCR, JCR, staff, family, and friends. A Giving Day formal dinner and corresponding High Table took place with students and fellows donating to the Scholarship. Judith Valerie Engel (2020, Music) gave a beautiful piano recital in the Cathedral featuring music by F. Chopin, F. Liszt, and others, at which the audience was encouraged to donate. The Christ Church Boat Club, founded in 1817, smashed their target of 181.7km rowed, managing an enormous 212.74km total! Members of the College Choir held a beautiful carol service in the Cathedral, illuminated by candles, and donated their retiring collection to the Refugee Academic Futures Scholarship. The Cathedral too held Evensong in support of the Giving Day. A special thanks to the pupils of the Christ Church Cathedral School who helped to run our cake sale and made wonderful bunting which could be seen on the Hall steps. 


The Refugee Academic Futures Scholarship is just one part of our far-reaching and varied outreach work, and it is only thanks to your generosity that we can offer such a range of access initiatives, which you can read more about here. Widening access to the transformative education offered here at Christ Church is one the College’s key missions – thank you for helping us ensure that a lack of financial and political resources do not prevent someone from being welcomed to the House. 


The Official Warning from the Charity Commission

A statement from Christ Church regarding the Charity Commission

Christ Church was issued with an Official Warning by the Charity Commission on 10 November 2022, concerning budgeting and accounting procedures for legal and professional costs. It requires Christ Church to take the following actions: 


  • Completing a full independent Governance Review and taking all reasonable steps within our remit to implement its recommendations.  
  • Keeping the Commission informed of the progress and implementation of the Governance Review at key milestones. 
  • Ensuring that the charity’s accounts and Trustee Annual Report for the year ending 31 July 2022 comply with the legal requirement to ensure the charity is accountable. 

As you will know, the Governance Review led by the Rt Hon Dominic Grieve KC, who was appointed on 15 June 2022, is well underway. We expect to have the recommendations of the review by the end of Hilary Term and will update alumni as soon as possible. Our 2022 accounts have now been audited and will be published in due course. Furthermore, Christ Church has reviewed all of its financial controls, including clarifying spending limits and authorisations, and is consolidating these within a single policy document operative across the Foundation.  


The Governing Body has taken time to reflect on the Official Warning and its implications. A dedicated committee will oversee the progress of these measures and ensure that Christ Church continues to work effectively with the Charity Commission. 


During a very difficult time for the charity, trustees sought and scrutinised professional advice where appropriate. In all cases, decisions were made in what the trustees judged to be the best interests of the charity. The nature of some of the disputes made it difficult to budget and account for their costs in the way the Charity Commission in its warning has made clear that it expected. Christ Church recognises this, and the concern that this has caused for many who care about the House, and we are committed to following through the steps set out by the Commission. 


Development Office's Visit to New York and DC

The Development Team had a successful trip in New York and DC in October, having met dozens of members and friends in the two cities. We were delighted to see our American alumni after three years. 

During our visit, we learnt that alumni would like to have more opportunities to meet up and stay in touch with other throughout the year. We have set up networking groups for alumni in New York and DC on Christ Church Connections to help you keep in touch, and make new connections, with each other and we very much hope this will be a useful forum to help facilitate a strong and active Christ Church alumni network.


We look forward to visiting our alumni on the West Coast next Spring.


Cathedral Music

It was a great pleasure for the Christ Church Cathedral Choir to join the Choir of HM Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace for a concert to celebrate St Cecilia’s Day with an evening of music.  The evening began with special presentations and behind-the-scenes tours of Hampton Court Palace not normally accessible to the public.  These included tours of the Little Banqueting House, the Grace and Favour Apartments, and a look at ‘haunted Hampton’ as well as a talk by Tracy Borman FSA, Co-Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces, in conversation with the Reverend Canon Anthony Howe FSA, Chaplain of Hampton Court, on the Boleyn Falcon and a unique copy of the Prayer Book from the Reign of Elizabeth I.  The concert programme offered a highlights survey of both the sacred and secular music of Henry Purcell, including ‘Welcome to all the pleasures’, ‘I was glad’, ‘Hear my prayer, O Lord’, ‘O sing unto the Lord’, and ‘Rejoice in the Lord always’. The evening concluded with a reception in the King’s Guard Chamber.

The Christ Church Cathedral Choir returned to St John’s, Smith Square to join in their 37th annual Christmas Festival on Tuesday, 13 December.  This year’s programme featured familiar favourites and a range of works from the 16th century to the present day including music by Cheryl Frances-Hoad and John Rutter. 


Peter Parsons

Peter ParsonsMembers and friends will be deeply saddened to learn of the death of Peter Parsons, aged 86. In spite of poor physical health, he remained a model to many younger friends and colleagues for his dedication to scholarship.

Peter matriculated in 1953 as an undergraduate at Christ Church. He studied Lit. Hum. and won many distinctions.  Later he was appointed to a Research Studentship, a post combined with the University Lecturership in Papyrology. He made a huge contribution to many volumes of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri series, editing and commenting on hundreds of new texts, literary and documentary. In addition he assisted in the Classics teaching here for many years and served as Tutor for Graduates for a double term.

In 1989 Peter was appointed Regius Professor of Greek in succession to Hugh Lloyd-Jones, and held the chair until retirement in 2003, serving as Director of Graduate Studies and also chairing the Faculty Board. He continued to be an active scholar in retirement, and maintained countless academic connections across the world. His superb book City of the Sharp-Nosed Fish (2007) offers a wonderful introduction to the world revealed by the papyri from Roman Egypt. He was an FBA and held doctorates from a number of other universities.


Peter was an outstanding classical scholar, and his death is a blow to research. But his many friends will miss still more his witty conversation, his keen sense of humour, and the essential modesty which made him such a loveable man.


Professor Richard Sheppard

Professor Richard Sheppard, former lecturer of Christ Church, died recently at the age of 78.

Richard was Lecturer in German for many years, from the retirement of David Luke till his own retirement. He was both a world-class researcher and an exceptionally gifted and popular teacher.


Professor Robin Offord (28 June 1940 – 11 March 2021)

Robin OffordProfessor Robin Offord, Former Official Student in Biochemistry, died in March 2021. If Members would like to share any anecdotes or memories of Professor Offord, please email development.office@chch.ox.ac.uk. They will be passed onto Dr Martin Grossel, Tutor in Chemistry, who will include them in his tribute to Professor Offord in the next Annual Report.


Support Needed: Breakwater Film

Breakwater, Oxford University's first feature film since Privileged, is being written and directed by Max Morgan, a second-year undergraduate reading English at the House. As you may know, Privileged featured the likes of Hugh Grant and Mark Williams, and also launched the filmmaking careers of many successful producers and directors, including Andy Paterson, Mike Hoffman, and Imogen Stubbs. Forty years later, Max and several other students from Christ Church are part of a University-wide team which has been lucky enough to enjoy the support of Andy and Mike in bringing the film to fruition. With interest in casting from professional actors, the project is set to be a thrilling one. 


We would be delighted to receive any support or advice you may have for the film. If you’d like to find out more about the project and how you can get involved, please have a look at the attached document. We also have a fundraising page- any and all donations would be massively appreciated, as we tackle Oxford’s most ambitious filmmaking project in 40 years!


Thank you,

The Breakwater Team

Max Morgan (Second year, English): Writer/Director 

Minna Moody-Stuart (Second year, PPE): Chief Financial Officer

Jasper McBride-Owusu (Second year, PPE): Assistant Producer

Mia Beechey (Second year, History of Art): Hair and Make Up Artist

Click here to find out more about Breakwater.

Sponsorship link: https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=TMRBPKUSEEX7L  


News from Alumni

Mark WhitwillMark Whitwill (1974) appointed Chairman of the World Nuclear Fuel Market Board of Governors

Mark Whitwill (1974) - currently living in Switzerland and working as Senior Advisor to the Swiss nuclear plant operator Kernkraftwerk Gösgen-Daniken AG, as well as acting as an independent consultant for a number of other European utilities and SMR start-ups, was appointed Chairman of the World Nuclear Fuel Market Board of Governors in August 2022.

The World Nuclear Fuel Market (WNFM) was established in 1974 to promote international commerce in nuclear fuel materials. 

The WNFM’s efforts have evolved to a focused, ongoing dialogue among industry participants to solve commercial, nuclear fuel-related problems through the WNFM Annual Meeting.


Jason Hogg (1992) appointed Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police

Jason HoggJason Hogg (1992, Theology) has been appointed chief constable of Thames Valley Police.

Jason has been deputy chief constable since 2019, and will lead the force from next April. He has worked for the force since 2016 and will replace current chief constable John Campbell, who will retire next year.


Click here to read more on BBC News.


Mo-CarMarcus Humphrey (1957): Mo-Car, The Diary of an Arrol-Johnston Dog Cart

Marcus Humphrey (1957) introduces his latest book, Mo-Car, The Diary of an Arrol-Johnston Dog Cart:


Mo-Car is a delightful and well illustrated story of a 1902 Arrol-Johnston double dog cart. The Arrol-Johnstons were the first all British motor cars, and it is a wonderful testament to Scottish engineering that this car is still running 120 years after it was built, ten times longer than most modern cars! What makes this story so special is that the car has remained in the same family since new, and the book tells the story of the family as well as that of the car.


Click here to order on Amazon.


Will Pank (1999): Where Innocence Ends

Where Innocence EndsWill Pank (1999, English) published his first novel Where Innocence Ends. A synopsis of the book can be found below.


Hertfordshire, England, 1804. As the 19th century dawns on Britain, an abandoned new-born child is taken in by wealthy widower Sir Godfrey Ramsay. Given a name and an education, Victor Winter grows up knowing that he must earn the right to be part of his patron's family. Yet while Sir Godfrey's patronage grows ever stricter and more stifling, the enigmatic Lord Elsfield promises adventure and advancement - and the keys to the heart of Victor’s intended. But is Lord Elsfield all that he appears, and can he be trusted?


Will says: “Where Innocence Ends is an epic tale of trust and betrayal, played out against the backdrop of Regency England and the age of sail."


Will Pank matriculated in 1999, and went on to complete a Creative Writing diploma at Oxford. He recently took a sabbatical from work to write this novel.


Where Innocence Ends is currently available on Amazon, under the pen name ‘WJ Stockdale’.



Frazer MacDiarmid (2013): The Memory of Ignatius of Antioch

Photo of Frazer MacDiarmidFrazer MacDiarmid 's latest book, The Memory of Ignatius of Antioch, is to be published by Mohr Siebeck by the end of the year.

The concept of 'memory' provides remarkable insight into the early second-century bishop and martyr Ignatius of Antioch. In this work, Frazer MacDiarmid seeks to explore the nature of this insight and unpack its significance. Ignatius' rich literary legacy and personal preoccupation with remembering make him uniquely suited among early Christians to be unlocked by the key of memory. As is becoming increasingly recognised, remembering in community is central to the development of the early church, its theology and self-understanding.

This volume is structured around three related questions: What is the nature of the memories inherited by Ignatius and his communities, and how are they engaged in the rhetorical and polemical context of his letters? How does Ignatius construct himself as a figure to be remembered by Christian interpreters? And how was Ignatius in fact memorialised in early Christian history?

Click here to pre-order your copy.


George Cawkwell (1946): A New Zealander in Oxford


A New Zealander in OxfordGeorge Cawkwell (1919-2019) was a fellow of University College, Oxford for seventy years. Arriving at Christ Church straight after the war as a Rhodes Scholar from New Zealand where he had spent the first 26 years of his life, he became an Oxford institution of a kind. He made a notable contribution to the study of the history of Ancient Greece, but more importantly as a college tutor he devoted himself to the welfare of both undergraduates and graduates. He served the college community in a number of posts, becoming Vice Master from 1980 to 1985, and even after retiring worked with his accumulated knowledge of generations of students to raise funds for the College.


He had a gift for lively conversation, for making speeches, and for letter-writing. When he died in 2019 he left a considerable number of unpublished papers in the form of an abandoned autobiography, addresses of various kinds, and a large number of letters. Supplemented by material from two long interviews he gave in the 2000s (including generous if trenchant views on several colleagues in the Ancient History faculty), this book gives a vivid portrait of an individual with vigorous, maverick even, views about the world, always expressed in an interesting manner, but above all one with an abiding love of Oxford University as an institution, and of his chosen subject of Ancient History. The maverick quality derives from his New Zealand background, his sic omnes ego non / 'as all think, I don't' quality of thought, and the vigour of his writing and speech from his love of English language and literature, and from his study of Greek and Latin literature.

While being devoted to Univ, Christ Church retained a special place in his affections and of particular interest to alumni of the House will be the chapter devoted to his time at Christ Church from 1947 -9.

As pre-war New Zealand and post-war Oxford recede into the past this book is a work of memory of that past and of its value as a civilized world, a memory of - in his words - 'the loveliness of life'.


Click here to order your copy on Amazon.


Hugh Sockett (1956): The Gargery Trilogy

Conscience of the GargerysMembers and Friends may remember Marriage and the Gargerys, Volume I of the Gargery Trilogy written by Professor Hugh Sockett (1956), from a previous edition of e-Matters.

Volume II, Conscience of the Gargerys, was published in November. A synopsis of the book is below:

Human beings feel the burdens of conscience and its challenges to their personal and professional duties and responsibilities. In 1896 Pip and members of the Jaggers Trust struggle with their collective conscience over their ownership and conduct of the Clumber estate in County Londonderry against the background of Home Rule and the cultural hatreds. Albert Pirrip becomes a man without conscience seeing the world only through contracts and manipulations. His marriage flounders, he contracts syphilis, and his body is washed up at Le Touquet after a suicidal leap from the Boulogne ferry.
Captain Malcolm Gargery is in a liaison role at Port Elizabeth, South Africa as the Boer War gets under way. He shadows Emily Hobhouse in her famous enquiries into conditions in the concentration camps established for women and children. He sees Kitchener’s army as having no conscience and he cannot be a part of it. Mr. Justice Macdonald (Hamish) also struggles with conflicts between law and justice, on the execution of a mentally disturbed man, a case of bigamy and police methods of enquiry.
Tragedies leave parents with pangs of conscience, even where they deserve no blame;  the Numquam House Elm tree is uprooted, killing two of the Fletchers’ children. Pip’s religious fervor is stimulated by this and the extensive history of the house as a center of tragedy. 

However, the status of women continues to be controversial in the upbringing of children, sexuality and the suffrage. In 1899 suffragism was a regular conversation at dinner parties, but for women the question of militancy in the face of male intransigence raises complex questions of conscience. 

Queen Victoria’s death in January 1901 might prove to be a turning-point. 


Click here to order a copy of Conscience and the Gargerys.


Professor Thomas Meade (1936–2022)

Photo of Thomas MeadeProfessor Thomas Meade (1954, Medicine) died on 24 October 2022.

He was an epidemiologist whose research into the role of blood in heart disease paved the way for new targeted treatments. 

Meade was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1994 Birthday Honours "For services to Medicine and to Science", elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1996 and received the Balzan Prize for epidemiology in 1997.


An obituary of Professor Thomas Meade can be read on The Guardian.


Other News


SAS Rogue Heroes

SAS Rogue Heroes, the historical drama series on BBC, features the founding of the Special Air Service (SAS). One of the co-founders, Jock Lewes, was an alumnus of Christ Church.

Jock Lewes matriculated in 1933 and read PPE at the House. He was President of the Oxford University Boat Club 1936–37 and rowed in the 1st Eight.

Lewes was first commissioned to the British Army's General List as a university candidate in 1935, while a student at Oxford. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant, University Candidate, General List in 1935. After he graduated, he transferred to a Territorial Army unit, 1st Battalion, the Tower Hamlets Rifles, Rifle Brigade before joining the Welsh Guards in 1940. He was billeted at Sandown Race Course and was appointed training officer for the regiment. The artist, Rex Whistler, a fellow officer, painted him with a gun on his knees, sitting on the steps of the grandstand (picture above).

Learn more about Jock Lewes on The National Army Museum website.