e-Matters - May 2022

Dear Members and Friends,

Welcome to this month’s edition of e-Matters, compiled at the end of 2nd week.

In this edition, we report back on the consultation on the Christ Church Association Constitution. Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete the questionnaire and to submit feedback. The AGM which will take place on Saturday 21st May – more information below. I’m happy to report that the next AGM will be at the usual slot during the Association weekend (17th September 2022).

Read on for reports of recent sporting events against the dark blues (Rugby Varsity Match and Boat Race), for information about the busy Music Trust and the Christ Church connection to The Corn is Green, currently being performed at the National Theatre.

We are delighted to be looking ahead at a visit to the East Coast in the autumn (15-22nd October) and we’ll be in touch soon with details of events in New York and Washington.

Lastly, we will be welcoming a new member of the team later this month. Laura Jostins-Dean will be joining as Senior Development Officer, having previously held the position of Strategic Development Officer across the road at Pembroke. We very much look forward to her arrival.

With all best wishes,

Philippa Roberts
Development Director


News from the House

Christ Church Connections: Our new online community platform

Dear Members and Friends,

The wait is over! We are excited to invite you to Christ Church Connections, our new online community platform.

As you might have already seen in the most recent Christ Church Matters, Christ Church Connections is an exciting, brand new online community platform for all members of Christ Church. Powered by Toucan Tech, a company founded by Kate Jillings (1998, PPE), Christ Church Connections serves as a platform for members to connect with one another, share news among the Christ Church community, keep up to date with the House, and offer and receive careers mentoring support. 

ChCh Connections

To register, please head to https://chchconnections.org/ and click “Sign Up”. It only takes a few steps to set up your online profile, and you will then become an ‘official’ member of Christ Church Connections. Please also check your junk mailbox for our system emails, which will come through via development.office@chchconnections.org. We also suggest you add this email address to the verified sender list, so the emails will end up in your main inbox in the future.

We have also attached a guide to sign up to Christ Church Connections, which you may find useful. Please also make sure to put up a profile picture, so that your contemporaries know that it’s you. 

Once we have approved your online profile, you will be able to explore all the features on the platform: search and connect with your contemporaries, join interest groups, read the latest news from alumni and friends, and more.

We hope that this platform will allow members to connect with one another more easily, to share news with a wider audience in an accessible way and to connect with Christ Church in a way which is most relevant to members’ interests. 

From next month onwards we will be sending e-Matters to Members and Friends via Christ Church Connections. Make sure to sign up and create your online profile to receive our latest communications!


Consultation on the Christ Church Association Constitution and the forthcoming Association AGM

Thank you to the many alumni who contributed to the recent consultation on the revised Constitution of the Christ Church Association. 
As set out in the consultation documents, the objectives of revising the constitution were:

  • To ensure that the Association facilitates active engagement with Members in the most effective way
  • To ensure the Constitution responds to contemporary charity law, good governance and the legal responsibilities of those concerned, and
  • To reflect the changes in the composition of the Committee since the introduction of the last constitution, as highlighted by members at the last CCA AGM. 

The consultation was sent to 8660 Association members by email/on-line form and 860 members by hard copy.  Members received a paper outlining the rationale for changes, the current Constitution and the proposed Constitution. 
We received 179 replies, 173 by on-line form and 6 by hard copy. Eighty-four responses included feedback in the free text box.  In addition, we received thirteen e-mails with further feedback.  We are grateful to everyone who took the time to respond, for the thorough review of the draft and the thoughtful suggestions that were contributed.

The responses were strongly in favour of the revisions. 

Section of Constitution % of Approval
Name:  Christ Church Association 93%
Objects 92%
Membership 91%
Officers 87%
Committee purposes 92%
Committee composition 85%
Meetings 95%
Administration 94%
Amendment 89%

The CCA Committee recommended increased representation of college members to ensure that staff can properly support the ambitions of the Association, and the activities that it wishes to develop.  Most feedback related to the balance of membership between alumni and college staff, with fourteen people sharing comments in relation to this matter.  In summary, in the proposed new constitution, the largest proportion of members of the Committee (8 out of 17) are alumni, the rest being students (2), staff (3, all non-voting) and GB members (4). As a result of your feedback, we have amended the proposed composition to make one further staff member non-voting. The result is that, considering voting members only, 8 out of 14 are alumni, 2 out of 14 are current students and 4 out of 14 are members of the Governing Body. 

Feedback from members also suggested that the process for electing and nominating members should be part of the Constitution. This will not be included in the Constitution, but will be agreed by the Committee at its next meeting.  
A number of contributors queried the independence of the Association.  For clarity, the CCA is not an independent body.  Christ Church is legally responsible for the Association.  Feedback also encouraged cross-referencing to Christ Church’s policies and statutory obligations in the Constitution.  We can confirm that as a Christ Church body, the CCA is subject to such obligations.  However, importantly, the proportion of alumni on the Committee is intended to strengthen the voice of the alumni and the Committee composition aims to ensure that the CCA is supported by Governing Body members and staff who can help deliver the Association’s plans.

We hope that this new Constitution will mark the beginning of a new chapter and put the Association on a strong footing for years to come.  Thank you again to all those who participated in the consultation. 
The AGM will take place on Saturday 21st May at 11am in the Thatched Barn, Christ Church.  The main agenda item will be the approval of the variation of the Constitution. There will be no elections at this meeting. If you would like to attend the AGM, please register by emailing Sandra Harrison at sandra.harrison@chch.ox.ac.uk. There is limited parking available. Please let Sandra know if you require parking and include your car registration details in the email.

The agenda can be found here.

The following AGM will take place on Saturday 17th September 2022 during the Association weekend.  


Emlyn Williams (1923): The Corn is Green Revival

The Corn is GreenEmlyn Williams’ (1923, French and Italian) 1938 semi-autobiographical play, The Corn is Green, has been revived by the National Theatre. Detailing his journey from a Welsh mining town to Oxford, the play showcases the barriers which threaten to derail the transformative effects of education.

Williams was born into a Welsh-speaking, working-class family in Ffynnongroyw, Flintshire. He later said he would probably have begun working in the mines at age 12 if he had not caught the attention of Sarah Grace Cooke, the model for Miss Moffat in The Corn Is Green. She was a teacher of French at the grammar school in Holywell, Flintshire in 1915, where Williams had gone on a scholarship. Over the next seven years, Cooke encouraged him in his studies, helping to pay for a three month stay in Haute-Savoie to allow Williams to perfect his French. When he was 17, she helped him win a scholarship to Christ Church, where he studied French and Italian. Whilst at Oxford, Williams joined the Oxford University Dramatic Society (OUDS), performing in his first full-length play, Full Moon, at the original Oxford Playhouse in 1927, aged 22.

To find out more about Christ Church’s access and outreach work or to donate to our Open Doors project, please visit https://www.chch.ox.ac.uk/alumni/tom

The Corn is Green is being performed at the National Theatre until June 11th, starring Nicola Walker (SpooksLast Tango in HalifaxThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time) and directed by Dominic Cooke. Tickets start from £20, and are available for £5 for 16-18s and £10 for 19-25 year olds.


Dr Lucy Taylor: Study shows how elephant calves can keep up with the herd from birth

Photo of Dr Lucy TaylorElephant herds do not slow down for mothers who've just given birth, according to new research from an international team led by Christ Church Junior Research Fellow, Lucy Taylor.

In collaboration with Save the Elephants, Lucy and her team discovered that following a 22-month gestation period, mature baby elephants emerge from the womb able to keep up with the family from the day they're born.

The findings, published in Animal Behaviour, show the average daily speed of the mother did not significantly change during pregnancy, birth and when moving with a newborn calf, except for a small dip in daily speed on the day of birth itself. In fact, the speed on the day before the elephant gave birth and the day after (i.e. the first complete day of the calf’s life) were not different from the yearly average speed.

Click here to read the full article.


The Battle of the Blues Round-Up

Oxford Blues winsWe returned to Twickenham on Saturday 2nd April for the 150th Anniversary of the Men's and 35th Women's Rugby Varsity Matches, with a mixed outcome for the two OURFC Blues teams.

Christ Church attendees were treated to elevenses, a picnic lunch, and drinks throughout the matches. Especially large cheers went to Henry Hackett (2018), competing in his third Varsity match.

The Women’s Blues put in arguably their best Varsity performance since their last victory in 2016, and, although they had to settle for a 10-all draw, all should be immensely proud of their performance. Oxford’s No 7 Lauren Webb was deservedly awarded the Bunting-Pegers Player of the Match Trophy for an outstanding display.

At half-time of the Men’s Match, the result looked to be in the bag for the Dark Blues as they had secured a 21 nil lead, however a stirring second half comeback from the Light Blues kept the Oxford supporters on the edge of their seats until the full-time whistle which saw the Dark Blues hold on for a 21 – 17 victory. The Dark Blues hooker Alexander Post was awarded the Alistair Hignell Medal as Player of the Match.

For full match reports and if you didn’t manage to get to Twickenham or see them live, links to watch both matches in full, click here.

On Sunday 3rd April, Christ Church alumni, current rowers, and friends came together at the Bull’s Head to cheer on Oxford’s rowers.

Oxford rowing teamOverlooking the Thames, it was a wonderful opportunity for rowers from across the years to meet, enjoy a drink, and cheer on the Dark Blues, including our very own Barnabé Delarze (2021), who rowed at 3 in the men's Blues Boat.

Celebrating being back on the historic Tideway course, it was a superb day's racing with both women's Blue Boats going under the course record and none of the losing crews at any stage giving up, leading to narrow margins.

In the women’s race, the Light Blues claimed a short lead early on, but had to overrate Oxford during the first minute to carry on extending their advantage. Although Cambridge's coxing earned some warnings from Umpire John Garrett, Cambridge won with a new Tideway record of 18 minutes 23 seconds, and a finish margin of 2.25 lengths. Oxford’s women also went three seconds under the previous course record.

The 167th Men's Boat Race ended a four-year drought for Dark Blue chief coach Sean Bowden. It was a clean start with Cambridge, who had won the toss and chosen Middlesex, quickly taking two seats advantage. However, Oxford's power as the heavier crew reversed the lead within the first 30 seconds. Passing the Milepost the river turned in the Dark Blues' favour and they made the most of it. "Oxford, turn the tide" called Oxford cox Jack Tottem as they passed St Paul's School, and the Dark Blues rowed to success, breaking the record from Chiswick Steps to Barnes Bridge by one second. 

There was a win apiece in the reserve races too, again going Light Blue for the women and Dark Blue for the men.

Congratulations to all the Dark Blues, and thank you to all House members who came out to show their support!


From the Cathedral Music Trust...

ChoristersIt was so good to see so many alumni and Music Trust friends back at the House to help welcome the Choir of HM Chapel Royal, Hampton Court Palace this past week! Celebrating our shared history with Hampton Court, we were delighted showcase the very best of our own joint foundation with an exhibition of rare Tudor treasures in the college's Upper Library in tandem with living tradition of music and liturgy of Evensong in the Cathedral.

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. 

The Christ Church Music Trust presents a special dedicatory harpsichord recital given by former Christ Church Cathedral Organ Scholar, Laurence Cummings (Music, 1986) on the newly acquired two-manual Flemish style harpsichord recently featured in the Three Choirs Concert and St John Passion. The recital will take place on 31 May at 19.15 in the Chapter House.  Thanks to the generosity of our Music Trust supporters, tickets for the concert are free of charge.  .


From the Christ Church Boat Club...

We very much hope to see Boat Club members over the next few months, supporting the crews at Summer Eights, and hopefully Henley, and also enjoying the hospitality of the House.
Forthcoming Boat Club Events:
25-28 May: Summer Eights
28 May: Boat Club BBQ & Drinks at the Boat House. All welcome
28 May: Christ Church Boat Club Society Dinner in Hall.
All Boat Club members welcome. Book here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/christ-church-boat-club-dinner-tickets-337223573787
25 June: Naming of the Mike Rosewell, following the 1981-85 Gaudy the day before.
28 June-3 July: Henley Royal Regatta. Boat Club drinks on Saturday.


News from Alumni 

Andrew Chamblin Memorial Concert 2022

Photo os Stephen FarrThe sixteenth annual Andrew Chamblin Memorial Concert will be given by Stephen Farr FRCO ARCM at 8 pm in Christ Church Cathedral on Thursday 23rd June 2022 and will also be livestreamed online.
Mr Farr will play an hour-long programme of organ works by Couperin, Byrd, Muffat, Guilain, Sweelinck, Krebs and Bach. The concert is free. There are no tickets required for in person attendance in the Cathedral and the weblink for the live-streamed performance can be found here.
Andrew Chamblin, an old member of Christ Church (1991), died suddenly and unexpectedly in 2006 at the very early age of 36. A brilliant theoretical physicist, Andrew was additionally distinguished as an organist and harpsichordist with a passion for Bach. Given Andrew's own accomplishments as an organist and great appreciation of organ music, friends and relatives of Andrew have joined together to commemorate his memory by forming the Andrew Chamblin Memorial Concert Fund. The intention is to fund an annual organ concert to be given in Christ Church Cathedral.

Click here to learn more about Andrew Chamblin Fund and make a gift. 


Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari appointed Foreign minister of Pakistan

Photo of Bilawal Bhutto-ZardariBilawal Bhutto-Zardari (2007) was appointed Pakinstan's foreign minister last month.

Aged 33, Bilawal becomes one of the world's youngest foreign ministers. 

He is the son of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and ex-president Asif Ali Zardari, as well as the grandson of another former premier, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

His grandfather also served as foreign minister in the mid-1960s and was the founder of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) that Bilawal now leads.

Bilawal read History at the House from 2007 to 2010.


Dr Paula Owen (1989): Little Brown Dog

Photo of Paula Owen and the book cover of Little Brown DogCongratulations to Dr Paula Owen, who recently published her first historical fiction novel Little Brown Dog.

Published by Honno Press, Little Brown Dog is closely based on an extraordinary, but largely forgotten, true story that unfolded in Edwardian London. At the crux of the story is a controversial statue that sparks a libel court case, riots, violence, civil unrest and numerous attempts to destroy it. So far, so familiar, you may think, until you learn the statue was a memorial to a nameless stray dog.

Members might be interested to know that the forthcoming Audible version of the book is going to be narrated by actress Geraldine James OBE, who has an intriguing connection to the true story and is mentioned in the book itself!

Click here to order your copy of Little Brown Dog.


Gavin Millar: 11 January 1938 – 20 April 2022

Photo of Gavin MillarGavin Millar (1958), alumnus of Christ Church, passed away on 20 April 2022.

Gavin died aged 84 from a brain tumour. He was a leading light of television arts journalism of the 1960s and 70s before going on to direct work.

Gavin read English at Christ Church from 1958 to 1961. His richest film was Dreamchild (1985), written by Dennis Potter, in which the elderly Alice Liddell reflects on her youthful relationship with Charles Dodgson, AKA Lewis Carroll, who used her as the inspiration for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. 

Along with Dreamchild, Gavin made two other films for cinema: a warm, enchanting take on Roald Dahl’s Danny, the Champion of the World (1989), starring Jeremy Irons and his 11-year-old son, Samuel, and an adaptation of Iain Banks’s thriller Complicity (2000), which followed Gavin’s acclaimed four-part BBC version of Banks’s The Crow Road (1996). Other notable TV work included Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop (1987) for London Weekend Television. Gavin won an ACE award for Tidy Endings (1988), based on Harvey Fierstein’s play Safe Sex, with Fierstein as a man who befriends his late lover’s widow, played by Stockard Channing.

Click here to read Gavin Millar's obituary on the Guardian.


Other News

Photo of Professor Peter SeebergerThe Newton-Abraham Lecture

The Newton-Abraham Lecture, ‘Chemistry and biology of sugar’ will be given this year by Professor Peter Seeberger.

This will be held in the Maths Institute on 19 May at 5pmFurther details can be found on the poster here.

The event is free of charge but booking is required. Please click booking link below to register:

Newton-Abraham Lecture 2022 | University of Oxford (oxforduniversitystores.co.uk)


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