Conservation of the past
Early on in my Fellowship, I heard that my colleagues from the National Portrait Gallery had been investigating an enigmatic painting of Lady Margaret Beaufort, held in the foyer of the Master’s Lodge. They thought it could be associated with the Netherlandish artist Meynnart Wewyck from the sixteenth-century, which happens to be my period of expertise (medieval and early modern art).
Financing from the Annual Fund allowed the cleaning, conservation treatment and new technical analysis of the painting. The grant also acted as a cornerstone for further collaborative research on the portrait, confirming its artist and his culture.
Conservation of the past provides culture and enrichment to all of society but most especially to students on the verge of discovering so much more about the world. I am delighted to have had the opportunity to help re-establish something of such value to us and our College’s history.
Dr Andrew Chen, Research Fellow
The Wellness Project helped students adapt to some of the challenges of the pandemic. The project has provided a wide array of resources and activities including a series of workshops on different aspects of wellness to give people a basic toolkit for supporting wellbeing. Community building activities funded included a summer painting evening in the Master’s Garden. For relaxation and self-care we were able to purchase a selection of sustainable yoga mats, blocks, foam rollers and other equipment that can be used at any time by students.
We also created student-organised gardens to allow opportunities for community building. These are sustainable, easily maintained spaces containing hardy plants such as lavender, fuchsia and roses, with seating made from trees felled onsite.
Dillon Rinauro (2019), Chemistry PhD
Success in sports
The Annual Fund has helped the Lady Margaret Boat Club (LMBC) to purchase two additional boats, a men’s eight and, most recently, a women’s four, allowing us to maintain a set of boats that are of equal quality to our competitors. The men’s eight is now used by our first and second crews. The women’s four allows smaller groups to go rowing, which helps when students’ busy schedules make it challenging to find times when a group of eight can go out. It also allows us to enter a larger range of events where a smaller group of individuals may wish to take part. Rowing in a four requires more technical ability than a larger boat, which makes this shell a useful training tool for the club.
The LMBC is one of the most inclusive societies in College. It fosters collegiate spirit and breaks boundaries between genders, ages, areas of study, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, and levels of fitness and physical ability – everyone can participate in the life of the boat club! Rowing provides multiple benefits to physical and mental health, which is especially important in light of the pandemic and other pressures that students are facing. The club actively brings people together, giving new students an easy and unintimidating opportunity to build friendships, many of which last a lifetime.
Thomas Cowie (2013), Physics PhD, and Nele Vauth (2019), MML MPhil
All-female a cappella
St John’s has a very prestigious all-male choir. Even with the mixed choir [the St John’s Voices] now existing, it felt like most of the attention fell on male singing. It’s great to have Aquila as the College’s first all-female a cappella group to act as a counterbalance and give women a harbour to make music too. The fact that a system exists to fund these projects is just another reason why I love being at St John’s.
Elisabeth Gaberdiel (2016), Natural Sciences Physical
I love the friendship and enjoyment in the rehearsals. There’s a real sense of College community, with students singing alongside Fellows and staff. Aquila helped me get through my exams – it gave me a break from studying and a space where I could focus on the music and relax. I’m grateful that the Annual Fund supports projects like this; becoming a member of Aquila has radically enriched my time in College.
Käthe-Marie White (2016), Engineering
The hidden costs of rugby
The Redboys have a reputation as the best rugby team among the Cambridge colleges, and most of that success is owed to the amazing facilities that St John’s provides the team. Despite the perceived simplicity of the sport, there are many hidden costs associated with training equipment and team kits. Having the financial backing of the College for a new scrum machine or team kit allows students to have fun and enjoy the sport rather than stressing about the costs of playing. Experiencing the benefits of the Annual Fund first-hand inspired me to be a caller for the summer Telethon, so I could help other students benefit in the same way I did.
Judah Aiyenuro (2015), Engineering
Poetry Pamphlet 2021
The St John’s Poetry Pamphlet is founded and run by students. Each year the pamphlet has run in a similar format, without restrictions on theme: a call for poems goes out, submissions are collected and edited, and a print and digital edition are released.
I submitted to the pamphlet in my first year and I still remember that feeling of elation when I got my hands on the printed copy with my name in the contributors’ section. In 2021, I decided to take on the production of the pamphlet myself. I learned that not only was it in retirement, due to the pandemic, but so was the funding. To my delight and surprise, my Annual Fund application for pamphlet printing was granted.
The call for poems went out. We received almost 40 submissions, and I am so thankful to everyone who submitted: it was like Christmas every morning when I opened my inbox. As I was in the middle of my finals, Alex Chernova – previous editor and poet extraordinaire – agreed to assist me. Alejandro Lemus-Gomez offered suggestions on poems. Tara Panesar designed the most beautiful cover and graphic designer Adi Levin stepped in help with the interior design finishing touches; then, we were off to print.
I am so proud of what we produced. Thank you so much to everyone involved.
Rebecca Gutteridge (2018), English